Attorney General James joins coalition to ensure states can protect their residents from gun violence

State News

FILE- In this Aug. 6, 2020 file photo, New York State Attorney General Letitia James takes a question at a news conference in New York. During a Tuesday, Sept. 29 media conference call on an initiative, dubbed “Operation Corrupt Collector,” James offered frank advice to older people who are often seen as easy marks for dubious debt collectors. “Senior citizens, as I always say, they’ve earned the right to hang up and to be rude,” James said. “Most seniors are not rude, but when it comes to individuals engaging in illegal conduct, they should hang up and report the collector to the FTC immediately.” (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

NEW YORK (NEWS10) – New York Attorney General Letitia James, in coordination with 18 other attorneys general, is fighting to ensure states have the right to protect their residents from gun violence. In an amicus brief supporting the defendants in Jones v. Becerra, Attorney General James argued in defense of two recent changes to California’s penal code that restricts the sale of long guns and semi-automatic centerfire rifles to people under 21.

The coalition also argues that states have the right to impose reasonable firearm regulations that protect public safety and reduce gun violence.

“Gun violence in America remains a serious threat to us all, whether we live in New York, California, or any other state,” said Attorney General James. “States have every right to take the necessary steps to protect their residents from gun violence, which is why we are taking this action to stop another avoidable tragedy. The last thing we need to do is to make dangerous weapons more accessible to young people. This is about protecting our residents from experiencing more pain, more death, and more gun violence.”

In the brief, the 18 attorneys general argue that laws restricting the sale of long guns and semi-automatic rifles to individuals under the age of 21, unless they fall into special exceptions, are reasonable requirements that California has the right to adopt because:

  • The Second Amendment allows states to enact new and varied measures in response to gun violence: The brief explains that states are allowed to adopt reasonable restrictions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents, which includes preventing crime and minimizing gun violence. All states have imposed age-based regulations on the sale and use of, and access to, firearms within their borders.
  • California has demonstrated that its age-based regulations promote public safety and prevent gun violence: In addition to being consistent with regulations historically imposed by other states and the federal government, these regulations are related to the state’s interest in promoting public safety and preventing gun violence, as demonstrated by social science evidence, legislative history, and statistical analyses. The coalition argues that states have the right to innovate or change past legislative models to combat difficult and evolving problems, such as gun violence and mass shootings. 

While the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that California’s laws restrict the Second Amendment rights of individuals aged 18-20, a lower court previously denied the plaintiffs’ request after concluding that they are not likely to succeed based on their claims. 

Joining Attorney General James in filing this brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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