|RICHMOND (September 21, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending New York’s law regulating when individuals may obtain a license to carry firearms in public. Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that the Second Amendment does not provide Americans with an unrestricted right to carry loaded firearms in virtually all public places, but instead, in keeping with centuries of tradition, allows states to enact policies regulating public carry that are tailored to local public safety concerns and needs.
“States and localities must have the ability to enact gun safety measures that are tailored to their communities’ unique public safety needs and goals. Last year, I successfully got legislation passed that allows localities to restrict firearms at permitted events, something I had pushed for since 2017 when we lost the lives of three Virginians in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville,” said Attorney General Herring. “If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs in this case, it could mean that any American, including potentially dangerous individuals, can carry a loaded firearm at any time in virtually any public space. I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general in supporting states’ rights to enact commonsense gun safety policies that are tailored to a specific community’s needs and concerns.”
Last year, Attorney General Herring successfully helped get legislation passed that gives localities the ability to restrict firearms in a public space during a permitted event, making it easier for law enforcement officials to protect Virginians and keep their communities safe during large-scale events. Attorney General Herring introduced this legislation for a number of years following the fatal Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, but Republicans continuously blocked the measure in committee.
A one-size-fits-all approach to regulating public carry would take away the ability of state officials to address the unique public safety needs of their communities. In this case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to grant Americans the right to carry loaded firearms anytime, in virtually any public place – disregarding the established practice that States and local governments may regulate the public carry of firearms in their jurisdictions.
In today’s brief, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that throughout the history of this country, public carry regulations have varied from region to region, and that tradition actually goes back more than 700 hundred years in England and pre-dates the founding of the United States. Regulations today and centuries ago “varied substantially between and within the States—the result of accountable policymakers enacting regulatory schemes tailored to local needs and conditions.”
Joining Attorney General Herring in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.