(The Center Square) — Texas is now the 25th state to join a coalition of attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal a New Jersey law that bans the possession of high-capacity magazines for firearms, arguing it violates the Second Amendment.
Most popular firearms owned in the U.S. come standard with magazines holding a range of 11 to 15 rounds, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued, “making New Jersey’s law both unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
“New Jersey’s law is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment, and its mere existence threatens the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Paxton said in a statement, arguing for the law to be struck down.
“Criminalizing the possession of a magazine that is so commonly used leaves Americans defenseless and vulnerable, especially in high crime areas,” Paxton added.
Texas joined an amicus brief first filed May 28 by Arizona, Louisiana and 22 other states in support of the plaintiffs, New Jersey resident Blake Ellman and the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistols Clubs.
The plaintiffs sued New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal over a 2018 law that made it a fourth-degree indictable crime to produce, transport, sell, or otherwise dispose of magazines with more than a 10-round capacity.
If someone were to transport a gun and large capacity magazine “to or from a licensed firearms dealer in another state that allows magazines with larger than a 10-round capacity, that person could be arrested during a routine traffic stop and charged for having an illegal weapon in New Jersey,” The Tormey Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Northern New Jersey, explained. Violators could receive a potential 18-month prison sentence, probation, community service, and a $10,000 fine.
The plaintiffs lost in U.S. District Court and appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals where a panel of three judges ruled against them last September. The plaintiffs then asked the full court to hear their case, which the court denied by an 8-6 vote.
The court concluded that the ban does not burden the Second Amendment guarantee for five reasons, and said it was important to keep the ban in place in order to protect citizens’ safety. The court also said its decision was in line with rulings made by the 4th, 2nd, 7th and D.C. circuit courts.
Judge Paul Matey wrote a lengthy dissent in which he argued that the state had not adequately proven that the law actually furthers public safety enough to justify the ban.
The coalition argues the Third Circuit Court “used an erroneous construction of the U.S. Constitution, thereby allowing the Second Amendment rights of millions of citizens to be compromised.”
“New Jersey should not be allowed to invade its citizens’ constitutional rights, and the Third Circuit should not imperil the rights of citizens in other states with its analysis,” the attorneys general argued.
The plaintiffs and the coalition are asking the Supreme Court to grant cert and reverse the Third Circuit Court’s decision, a decision they argue, conflicts with the court’s opinions already given in three cases: Heller, McDonald, and Caetano.
The New Jersey attorney general’s office has not released a statement on the matter.