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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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October 15, 2019


Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general to defend states’ rights to ban large-capacity magazines and protect public safety. In an amicus brief filed in the Vermont Supreme Court, Raoul and the coalition argue that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun violence.

Raoul and the coalition filed the brief today in Vermont v. Misch, a lawsuit in which the Vermont Supreme Court will determine whether Vermont’s prohibition on large-capacity magazines violates the Vermont Constitution’s right to bear arms.

“States have the right and responsibility to enact laws and policies that will help protect residents from gun violence,” Raoul said. “A ban on high-capacity magazines for guns that are often used to commit horrible acts of mass violence is a reasonable and necessary common-sense restriction.”

In 2018, Vermont prohibited the manufacture, importation, possession, and sale of large-capacity magazines, with some exceptions, including for magazines lawfully possessed before the law went into effect. The law bans magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long guns and more than 15 rounds for handguns. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar prohibitions. The constitutionality of those laws has been consistently upheld by federal courts of appeals under the Second Amendment, as have similar assault-rifle bans enacted by Illinois municipalities.

Raoul and the coalition argue that a ban on large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction that Vermont has the right to adopt because:

  • The right to bear arms does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun safety measures. The brief explains that states are entitled to adopt reasonable restrictions on firearms to address the unique conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is reasonable because doing so would reduce firearm injuries and deaths leaving many other options available for individuals who wish to exercise the Second Amendment right to self-defense.
  • States have a responsibility to prevent gun violence and protect public safety. The brief explains that states have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety. This includes a duty to reduce the likelihood that their residents will become victims of preventable gun violence, and to minimize fatalities and injuries when that violence does occur. The brief notes that deciding how best to protect the safety of residents is a question better suited to state legislatures than courts.
  • Regulating large-capacity magazines protects the public. The brief cites evidence that large-capacity magazines are especially attractive to mass shooters and criminals, posing increased risks to innocent civilians and law enforcement. At the same time, there is no proof that large-capacity magazines are necessary – or even commonly used – for self-defense.

Joining Raoul in the amicus brief are the attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.


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