TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today filed an amicus brief defending the constitutionality of a Massachusetts gun law that – like New Jersey’s own justifiable need statute – prevents private citizens from obtaining a license to carry a firearm in public unless they demonstrate an individualized need.
“Common sense and the evidence both tell us that public carrying of firearms is dangerous to our residents and to law enforcement,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Massachusetts, like New Jersey, took strong action to protect against firearm violence, and its choice does not violate the Second Amendment. States like Massachusetts and New Jersey are free to look at all the data and make the tough calls about how best to protect their residents from the scourge of gun violence.”
Grewal leads a multi-state coalition of 12 states supporting Massachusetts as it – and other states – defends public-carry laws. The coalition includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Massachusetts, Attorney General Grewal’s brief notes that widespread public carry has been shown to increase violent crime. Moreover, the brief notes, allowing widespread public carrying of firearms poses risks from civilians “without sufficient training to use and maintain control of their weapons,” and would force members of law enforcement “to take extra precautions … effectively treating encounters between police and the community that are now routine, friendly and trusting as high-risk stops.”
“This is why (state) legislatures and law enforcement have … opted to strike a permissible balance between granting handgun permits to those persons known to be in need of self-protection and precluding a dangerous proliferation of handguns on the streets,” the brief notes.
“To be sure, multiple other states chose to adopt unlimited public carry laws, but the Constitution embraces the right of each state to make different choices based on local needs,” Grewal writes. “Simply put, state legislatures have the power to decide how best to address the carrying of guns in public, and nothing in the Second Amendment is to the contrary.”
Today’s amicus filing is part of New Jersey’s broader, ongoing effort to protect its residents – and residents of its neighbor states – from the scourge of gun violence.
Attorney General Grewal has worked closely with Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey State Police to release monthly reports on gun crimes in the state, including the source state where the gun was originally sold. Those efforts shine a light on the states where it’s simply too easy to buy firearms.
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