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Press Release

Press Release  AG Campbell Leads State Attorneys General in Supporting Rhode Island’s Restrictions on Large-Capacity Magazines

Court Brief Argues That the Second Amendment Permits Reasonable Gun Safety Laws
For immediate release:
6/29/2023
  • Office of the Attorney General

Media Contact for AG Campbell Leads State Attorneys General in Supporting Rhode Island’s Restrictions on Large-Capacity Magazines

Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary

BOSTONAttorney General Andrea Joy Campbell led a coalition of 18 state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief defending Rhode Island’s restrictions on large-capacity firearm magazines. In the brief, filed yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the states argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits states to enact reasonable firearms regulations, including those that restrict the size of firearm magazines, that protect public safety, prevent crime, and reduce the harm caused by gun violence.

AG Campbell and her colleagues filed the brief in Ocean State Tactical, LLC, et al. v. State of Rhode Island, a lawsuit filed by Rhode Island gun shop owners seeking to overturn a 2022 Rhode Island law restricting magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition. The brief urges the First Circuit to affirm a District Court ruling that Rhode Island’s limitation on the size of ammunition magazines should stand while the case proceeds on the merits.

“High-capacity firearms are weapons of war, and states can and should enact reasonable, commonsense laws to restrict the sale and ownership of large-capacity magazines, consistent with the Second Amendment,” said AG Campbell. “As our nation continues to be wracked by successive mass shootings, we can and should take the necessary steps to protect the public from gun violence.”

Rhode Island enacted its law restricting magazine capacity to protect residents from gun violence and to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities from potential mass shootings. Several states, including Massachusetts, have enacted similar laws banning large-capacity magazines, and those laws have been widely upheld by federal courts as consistent with the Second Amendment.

In the amicus brief, the attorneys general collectively argue that Rhode Island’s large-capacity magazine law is a constitutionally permissible restriction because:

  • The Second Amendment does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun regulations: States have widely adopted reasonable restrictions on firearms and firearm accessories to address the conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction because it reduces firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals who wish to exercise the core Second Amendment right to self-defense. 
  • Rhode Island’s law is consistent with a historical legal tradition of regulating and imposing restrictions on new and distinctively dangerous forms of weaponry: Historical gunpowder storage laws and other rules and regulations were explicitly intended to prevent threats to public safety by limiting the aggregation of arsenals far beyond what would be sufficient for self-defense. Many state and federal laws throughout American history have also regulated specific dangerous weapons or accessories used for criminal and other violent purposes, such as machine guns or short-barreled shotguns.

The amicus brief was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

This brief is the latest effort by the AG’s Office to defend common sense gun laws in order to prioritize the safety of the public and create safer, healthier communities across the Commonwealth. In February, AG Campbell filed briefs in two ongoing legal cases to defend and uphold Massachusetts laws and regulations intended to protect Massachusetts residents from gun violence. In July 2022, following the United States Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security issued a joint advisory to provide guidance to licensing authorities and law enforcement officials on how the Court’s decision affects Massachusetts’s firearm licensing laws. The advisory confirmed that it remains unlawful to carry a firearm in Massachusetts without a license and detailed the strong license-to-carry eligibility requirements that remain in place.

In January, AG Campbell announced her support for legislation filed in the Massachusetts Senate by Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) to strengthen the current state law prohibiting the purchase, possession and use of silencers by amending the definition of “silencer” to mirror the definition in federal law. At a time when law enforcement officials are seeing an increase in the purchase and possession of illegal firearms and firearm accessories, this bill will strengthen enforcement capabilities and protect public safety by helping to keep these devices out of the hands of dangerous individuals. 

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Media Contact for AG Campbell Leads State Attorneys General in Supporting Rhode Island’s Restrictions on Large-Capacity Magazines

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