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Attorney General Nessel Files Amicus Brief Supporting California's Firearms Regulations

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in defending California’s regulations on the sale of long guns and semi-automatic centerfire rifles by federally-licensed firearms dealers to people under the age of 21.  

In an amicus brief filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the coalition argues that states have the right to enact reasonable firearms regulations that protect public safety and reduce the prevalence of gun violence. 

The coalition filed the brief in Jones v. Becerra, a lawsuit challenging two recent amendments to California’s penal code. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit claim the amendments unduly infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of individuals aged 18-20. A lower court previously denied plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunctive relief after concluding that they are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.   

“In recent years, an alarming number of mass shootings have been top stories for media outlets across the country, and action on sensible gun reform continues to be needed,” Nessel said. “States have the right and responsibility to protect our residents against harm by enacting commonsense laws and policies. In support of protecting public safety, I join my colleagues across the U.S. in defending California’s firearms regulations because even a single death from gun violence is a tragedy.” 

In the brief, the coalition argues that laws restricting the sale of long guns and semi-automatic rifles to individuals under the age of 21, unless they fall into enumerated 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 entitled 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 imposed by numerous other states, these regulations are reasonably 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 amend past legislative models to combat difficult and evolving problems such as gun violence and mass shootings.    

Joining Nessel in the brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.  

A copy of the brief is available online here