AG Racine Leads 16-State Coalition Supporting New Jersey's Ban on Large-Capacity Magazines

States Argue in Court Brief that the Second Amendment Permits Reasonable Gun Safety Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today led a group of 16 state attorneys general to defend New Jersey’s ban on large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, AG Racine and his counterparts argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits states to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that protect public safety, prevent crime, and reduce the harm caused by gun violence.

“Banning large-capacity magazines will help prevent the kind of devastating mass shootings that are plaguing our country,” said  Attorney General Racine. “We have a responsibility to enact common-sense gun safety laws that can save lives, and the Second Amendment allows us to do so.” 

The District of Columbia and partner states filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Inc. v. Attorney General of New Jersey. The lawsuit was filed by the New Jersey affiliate of the National Rifle Association and sought to prevent a 2018 law prohibiting the possession of large-capacity magazines from taking effect.

New Jersey enacted its ban on large-capacity magazines to protect residents from gun violence and to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities from potential mass shootings. Half a dozen other states and the District of Columbia have also enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which have been upheld as reasonable firearm restrictions by federal courts of appeals.

In September 2018, a lower court denied the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs’ request for a preliminary injunction. The association appealed to the Third Circuit, where the case is being heard on an expedited basis.

In this amicus brief, the states collectively argue that a ban on large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction that New Jersey has the right to adopt because:

  • The Second Amendment does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun regulations: The brief explains that states are entitled to adopt reasonable restrictions on firearms to address the unique conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction because it would reduce firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals who wish to exercise the core Second Amendment right to self-defense.  
  • States have a responsibility to prevent gun violence and protect public safety: The brief notes that states have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety. This includes a duty to reduce the likelihood that their citizens will fall victim to preventable firearm violence, and to minimize fatalities and injuries when that violence does occur. The brief notes that deciding how best to protect the safety of state residents is a question better suited to legislatures than courts.
  • Regulating large-capacity magazines protects the public: The brief cites evidence that large-capacity magazines are especially attractive to mass shooters and criminals, posing increased risks to innocent civilians and law enforcement. At the same time, there is no proof that large-capacity magazines are necessary—or even commonly used—for self-defense. 

AG Racine is leading today’s friend-of-the-court brief and is joined by state attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

The brief as filed is available at: