- Twenty state attorneys general, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, have joined an amicus brief supporting gun rights groups that are appealing a lower court’s ruling upholding gun control laws in Delaware. These laws include a ban on “assault rifles” and “large-capacity magazines,” which the groups argue violate the Second Amendment.
- The coalition asserts that the Delaware laws contradict the historical tradition of regulating “dangerous and unusual” weapons rather than prohibiting common firearms and accessories outright.
- This is not the first time Republican attorneys general have collectively backed challenges to gun control laws. Last year, a group of 25 supported a lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and other groups aiming to overturn Maryland’s “assault weapon” ban.
U.S.A. — Twenty state attorneys general have signed onto an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals supporting appeals by several gun rights groups seeking to overturn a lower court ruling which upheld Delaware gun control laws, in a trio of consolidated legal challenges.
The coalition, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, includes attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Delaware lawmakers have banned so-called “assault rifles” and “large-capacity magazines,” which gun rights groups contend violate the Second Amendment. Three lawsuits challenging these laws were filed and consolidated, and the Second Amendment Foundation is involved in two of those cases, known as Graham v. Jennings and Gray v. Jennings. SAF filed its own appeal brief earlier this month.
In their amicus brief, the attorneys’ general note, “The Second Amendment stands as a reminder to state governments that ‘the people’ have a ‘pre-existing’ right to keep and bear arms. And it extends to all ‘bearable arms,’ including arms carried ‘for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict.’”
In a release from Knudsen’s office, the coalition asserts that two Delaware bills violate the Second Amendment. “House Bill 450 imposes a ban on 44 semi-automatic ‘assault long guns’ – including the AR-15 and more – 19 semi-automatic ‘assault pistols,’ and copycat weapons, while Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 6 imposes a ban on magazines capable of accepting or holding more than 17 rounds of ammunition.’”
“The Second Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense and other lawful purposes ‘subject to certain reasonable, well-defined restrictions,’” the AG’s brief states. “No doubt HB 450 and SS 1 were motivated by an understandable concern with the recent rise in mass shooting incidents, but they are inconsistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of regulating dangerous and unusual weapons. This Court should reverse.”
There is no small irony in the fact that Delaware is President Joe Biden’s home state, and this battle is occurring on his home turf. The cases were filed in January.
This is not the first time Republican attorneys general have joined in filing an amicus brief supporting challenges to gun control laws. Last year, 25 AGs signed onto a brief supporting a lawsuit filed by SAF, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and other groups seeking to overturn Maryland’s “assault weapon” ban. Last year, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to that case, vacated a lower court ruling and sent the case back for further action consistent with protocols set down in the Bruen case.
Knudsen has become a leader in organizing AG coalitions to battle gun control laws. By no surprise, all of the attorneys general participating in these efforts are Republicans.
The announcement from Knudsen’s office notes that in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (2022), “the courts must determine whether modern firearm regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding, and Delaware fails to show that its so-called ‘assault weapon’ and LCM bans align with this nation’s tradition of firearm regulation. While one of Delaware’s experts in the case points to multiple historical state regulations which were designed to reduce criminal activity at the time, none of those regulations imposed an outright ban on the prohibited arms. Therefore, the burden HB 450 and SS1 both impose is not similar or justified based on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”
When attorneys for SAF filed their appeal brief, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said in a prepared statement, “Delaware has banned the most popular rifle in the country, along with the standard-capacity magazines supplied by manufacturers to consumers in most other states. The laws being challenged have literally criminalized ownership of these popular arms and the magazines supplied with them, essentially jeopardizing an act of self-defense if it involves one of the affected firearms or magazines.”
Other plaintiffs in the SAF cases are the Firearms Policy Coalition, DJJAMS LLC and individual citizens Owen Stevens and Christopher Graham, William Taylor and Gabriel Gray.
Plaintiffs in the third case are the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Delaware Rifle and Pistol Club, Delaware Association of Federal Firearms Licensees and several private citizens.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.