AG Nessel, SOS Benson Back Commonsense Approach to Concealed Carry Laws

Agency: Attorney General

Media contact: Lynsey Mukomel 517-599-2746
Public inquiries: 517-335-7622

September 22, 2021

LANSING - Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 19 state 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.  

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also affirmed support for the regulation given her stance on preventing open carry at election polling locations. 

The coalition of attorneys general argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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. 

"We must not conflate commonsense safety regulations with infringing on the Second Amendment," Nessel said. "As this brief correctly points out, our country has long relied on state discretion to regulate the public carry of firearms and backtracking would be nothing short of federal overreach. I am proud to join this coalition and appreciate support from Secretary Benson." 

In addition to joining the coalition brief, Attorney General Nessel and Secretary Benson fully support an amicus brief filed by the League of Women Voters. Upholding commonsense regulations like New York's will help ensure states maintain the right to provide voters with safe access to polling locations, free from the unnecessary threat of firearms. The amicus brief filed by the League persuasively and powerfully details why the Second Amendment should not be interpreted to bar regulations like New York's from protecting voters in exercising their First Amendment right to vote.   

"Fair, free and secure elections are the foundation of our democracy, and I continue to stand for the right of all eligible Michigan citizens to vote without fear of threats, intimidation or harassment," Benson said. "Prohibiting the open carry of firearms in areas where citizens cast their ballots is necessary to ensure every voter is protected, which is why a Michigan court made clear last year that it is illegal to brandish a firearm anywhere people are voting and why I am proud to support the League of Women Voters amicus brief submitted today that reaffirms this truth." 

A one-size-fits-all approach to regulating public carry would take away the ability of officials, democratically elected by the people of their states, to address the unique public safety needs of their residents, the coalition points out. 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 its brief, the coalition argues 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 Nessel in the filing are attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. 

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