RICHMOND (June 13, 2018)—Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief that defends the ability of states to set their own gun safety laws, and the constitutionality of a Massachusetts gun law limiting the carrying of guns in public.
“Research shows that there is a link between gun violence and the ease with which someone can acquire and carry a weapon,” said Attorney General Herring. “Even though Virginia law doesn’t go as far as it should to protect our citizens from gun violence, it is clear that we have the right to do so. I will continue to push the General Assembly to enact the commonsense reforms we know can save lives, like universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, and a return to the one-handgun-per-month law that served us well for nearly two decades.”
Filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the brief notes that widespread public carrying of firearms has been shown to increase violent crime and homicide. Moreover, the brief notes, between 2007 and 2016, concealed-carry permit holders shot and killed at least 17 law enforcement officers along with more than 800 private citizens.
The multi-state coalition that filed today’s brief includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The coalition’s amicus brief explains that allowing widespread public carrying of firearms poses risks from civilians “without sufficient training to use and maintain control of their weapons,” and would force members of law enforcement “to take extra precautions … effectively treating encounters between police and the community that are now routine, friendly and trusting as high-risk stops.”
“This is why (state) legislatures and law enforcement have … opted to strike a permissible balance between granting handgun permits to those persons known to be in need of self-protection and precluding a dangerous proliferation of handguns on the streets,” the brief notes.
“To be sure, multiple other states chose to adopt unlimited public carry laws, but the Constitution embraces the right of each state to make different choices based on local needs,” the brief asserts. “Simply put, state legislatures have the power to decide how best to address the carrying of guns in public, and nothing in the Second Amendment is to the contrary.”