AG Shapiro Takes Action to Support A State’s Authority To Establish Firearm Regulations

January 27, 2021 | Topic: Peoples AG

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today with a coalition of 18 attorneys general defended California’s restrictions on the sale of long guns and semi-automatic centerfire rifles by federally-licensed firearm dealers to persons under the age of 21. In an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the coalition, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, argues that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm regulations that protect public safety and reduce the prevalence of gun violence.

“There is a gun violence epidemic plaguing both Pennsylvania and our country, and it is a state’s authority to protect its citizens and establish gun safety laws,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “I’m calling on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to protect all of our rights to live safely, while still respecting the Second Amendment.” 

 The coalition filed the brief in Jones v. Becerra, a lawsuit challenging two recent amendments to California’s penal code. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit claim that the amendments unduly infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of individuals aged 18-20. A lower court previously denied plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunctive relief upon concluding that they are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims. 

In the brief, the coalition argues that laws restricting the sale of long guns and semi-automatic rifles to individuals under the age of 21, unless they fall into enumerated exceptions, are reasonable requirements that California has the right to adopt because: 

  • The Second Amendment allows states to enact new and varied measures in response to gun violence. The brief explains that states are entitled to adopt reasonable restrictions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents, which includes preventing crime and minimizing gun violence. All states have imposed age-based regulations on the sale and use of, and access to, firearms within their borders.


  • California has demonstrated that its age-based regulations promote public safety and prevent gun violence. In addition to being consistent with regulations imposed by numerous other states, these regulations are reasonably related to the state’s interest in promoting public safety and preventing gun violence, as demonstrated by social science evidence, legislative history, and statistical analyses. The group argues that states have the right to innovate or amend past legislative models to combat difficult and evolving problems such as gun violence and mass shootings. 

 The brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. 

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