Mass. AG urges court to uphold the right of local governments to regulate the public carry of firearms

Massachusetts

Brief opposes a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation, arguing it would take away the ability of local officials to address the public safety needs of their residents.

BOSTON (USDOJ) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined 19 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm that the Second Amendment does not prohibit states and local governments from regulating the public carry of firearms in their jurisdictions, as they have done for hundreds of years.

The brief, filed Tuesday in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, supports Kevin Bruen, the New York State Police Commissioner, and the state’s law regulating when individuals can obtain a license to carry firearms in public. It specifically argues that the Second Amendment does not provide Americans with an unrestricted right to carry firearms in virtually all public places, as the petitioners are seeking, but instead, in keeping with centuries of tradition, allows states to enact policies regulating public carry that are tailored to local public safety concerns.

“Here in Massachusetts, we know that strong gun laws save lives,” AG Healey said. “Ensuring that our state and local officials have the ability to enact policies and regulations related to the carrying of firearms in their own communities is critical to protecting public safety.”

The brief argues that throughout the history of this country, public carry regulations have varied from region to region. That tradition goes back more than 700 hundred years in England and pre-dates the founding of the United States. Regulations today and centuries ago “varied substantially between and within the States—the result of accountable policymakers enacting regulatory schemes tailored to local needs and conditions.” A one-size-fits-all approach to regulating public carry would take away the ability of state and local officials to address the particular public safety needs of their residents.

To carry a firearm in public in Massachusetts, individuals are required to have a license to carry. Massachusetts police chiefs have the authority to issue firearm licenses based on the suitability of the applicant to carry a firearm. Police chiefs also have discretion to set conditions on firearms licenses, including restrictions around the licensee’s ability to carry a firearm outside of the home.

Massachusetts has among the strongest gun laws in the country, and as a result, among the lowest rates of gun-related deaths. Research has shown that states with more stringent restrictions on public carry have “significantly lower rates of gun-related homicides and other violent crimes.”

Joining AG Healey in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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