Attorney General Mark Herring defends states’ ability to ban high-capacity gun magazines


RICHMOND, Va (WFXR) – In a press release, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced he has joined a group of 18 state attorneys general to defend the ability of states like Virginia to enact certain gun safety laws.

The release indicates Virginia and partner states filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit filed by California gun owners and an NRA affiliate challenging California’s ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“Virginia and other states have the right, and I believe the responsibility, to enact commonsense, broadly supported gun safety laws that will save lives and reduce gun violence,” said Attorney General Herring. “I’m going to keep pushing for stronger gun safety laws in Virginia like universal background checks and a ban on high capacity magazines, and I’m going to fight in court to make sure we have the right to make those decisions for ourselves.”

ince 2000, the State of California has prohibited the manufacture, importation, and sale of large-capacity magazines, according to the release. In 2016, Proposition 63 banned the possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Nine other states and the District of Columbia have also enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines, according to the release.

In the amicus brief, the states collectively argue that a ban on large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction that Virginia and other states can choose to adopt because: 

  • 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.
  • The Second Amendment 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 a reasonable restriction because it would reduce firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals. 
  • States have a responsibility to prevent gun violence and protect public safety: The brief notes that states have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety. This includes a duty to reduce the likelihood that their citizens will fall victim to preventable firearm violence, and to minimize fatalities and injuries when that violence does occur. The brief notes that deciding how best to protect the safety of state residents is a question better suited to legislatures than courts.

The brief is available here.

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