Third Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments on two Delaware gun safety laws

Gun Rights

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments on Monday on a Delaware gun groups’ efforts to halt recently passed gun safety laws.

In April 2023, a federal judge denied the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association’s (DSSA) request for a preliminary injunction against Delaware’s ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines (LCM).

In their original complaint, DSSA argues these laws violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the state’s constitution, which says a person has the right to bear arms for self defense.

The federal judge’s ruling denying the preliminary injunction argues there are other non-assault weapons that can be used for self-defense and found the state is justified in regulating these types of weapons “to ensure the safety of Delawareans.”

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“I find that the LCM and assault long gun prohibitions of HB 450 and SS 1 for SB 6 are consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Plaintiffs have therefore failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their Second Amendment claim,” Judge Richard Andrews adds.

DSSA appealed that decision, but Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings is confident the court will deny the appeal and ultimately uphold the constitutionality of these laws.

“The idea that the founders envisioned anything like an AR-15 when they drafted the constitution is delusional. These guns originated as weapons of war, were marketed based on their military pedigree and have have emerged as the clear weapon of choice for mass shooters at a time when guns are the leading cause of death for children in our nation,” Jennings says.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin agrees with Jennings, noting New Jersey holds similar gun laws to Delaware and also falls under the jurisdiction of the Third Circuit.

“You are six times more likely to be shot and killed in Mississippi than in New jersey. That’s because of the strong gun laws that we have, how we enforce them and, as evidence today, how we along with states like Delaware and states across the country that have stood up to the NRA and others who would like to make our states less safe, in how we defend them,” Platkin says. “So I am very proud to be a part of this effort, and I’m confident that when the court hears the arguments, they will agree with us that these laws make sense, and they are entirely consistent with the constitution.”

Pennsylvania also falls within the Third Circuit, and Attorney General Michelle Henry says she supports Delaware: “I stand proudly next to partners in Delaware and New Jersey as leaders in stating our case that the line has to be drawn between maintaining freedoms essential to Pennsylvanians and our obligations as chief law enforcer to protect children, families, and communities from further harm.”

16 other states have joined New Jersey and Pennsylvania in filing a brief supporting the state of Delaware, while 20 states have filed a brief in support of the Delaware gun group’s attempt to overturn the decision.

Jennings says following Monday’s oral arguments, the state anticipates the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a decision within the next few months.

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