ALBANY – A coalition of 13 Attorneys General filed an amicus brief this week seeking to uphold a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that held that states and localities can impose certain types of firearm regulations when they are substantially related to an important government objective, such as the protection of their citizens.
“While President Trump, his allies in Congress, and the NRA do absolutely nothing, our schools, our workplaces, and our places of worship have become killing fields — due in part to the free-flowing movement of guns — but New York is standing up and fighting back,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “We are not only defending the right of state and local governments to enact regulations tailored to their distinctive needs, but, more importantly, their ability to slow down the senseless loss of life that continues to haunt community after community, day after day.”
The suit challenges regulations New York City enacted restricting the transport of firearms held under a premises license, unless the firearms were unloaded, locked, and transported separately from ammunition, and being transported to firing ranges within the city.
Attorney General James and her counterparts are arguing that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms does not prevent state and localities from enacting laws that protect the safety of their residents.
In 2013, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and three individual residents of New York City filed a suit challenging the then-existing New York City regulation in the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
These plaintiffs alleged that the city’s former regulation violated the Second Amendment, the dormant Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel. After losing in the SDNY and, subsequently, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the four plaintiffs took their case to the United States Supreme Court.
In the amicus brief filed last night, Attorney General James and her counterparts across the country argue that the Supreme Court has made clear that state and local governments throughout the nation may tailor their firearm safety regulations to deal with varying circumstances in each local jurisdiction, which is what New York City did here to protect public safety in the largest, densest, and most urbanized major city in the nation.
Additionally, the Attorneys General make clear that the plaintiffs’ Commerce Clause and right-to-travel claims should also be rejected because states and localities have the right to impose restrictions on firearm transportation.
Joining Attorney General James in filing the amicus brief are the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The amicus brief was prepared by Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood, Deputy Solicitor General Anisha S. Dasgupta, and Assistant Deputy Solicitor General Andrew W. Amend.