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Office of the
Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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June 29, 2023

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with 18 attorneys general, filed an amicus brief today defending the state of Rhode Island’s restrictions on large-capacity firearm magazines. The attorney generals filed the brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Ocean State Tactical, LLC, et al. v. State of Rhode Island. They argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits states to enact reasonable firearms regulations, including those that restrict the size of firearm magazines that protect public safety, prevent crime and reduce the harm caused by gun violence.

“States have the ability to regulate military-style weapons and accessories to prevent gun violence in their communities,” Raoul said. “As attorney general, I will continue to defend the right of states to implement laws that promote safety, prevent crime and minimize gun violence.”

Raoul and the coalition filed their brief in response to a lawsuit filed by Rhode Island gun shop owners seeking to overturn a 2022 Rhode Island law restricting magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition. Raoul and the coalition’s brief urges the court to affirm a District Court ruling that Rhode Island’s limitation on the size of ammunition magazines should stand while the case proceeds on the merits. 

Rhode Island enacted its law restricting magazine capacity to protect residents from gun violence and to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities from potential mass shootings. Several states, including Illinois, have enacted similar laws banning large-capacity magazines.

In their brief, Raoul and the coalition present several arguments that illustrate Rhode Island’s large-capacity magazine law is a constitutionally permissible restriction, including:

  • The Second Amendment does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun regulations. States have widely adopted reasonable restrictions on firearms and firearm accessories to address the conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction because it reduces firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals who wish to exercise the core Second Amendment right to self-defense.
  • Rhode Island’s law is consistent with a historical legal tradition of regulating and imposing restrictions on new and distinctively dangerous forms of weaponry. Historical gunpowder storage laws and other rules and regulations were explicitly intended to prevent threats to public safety by limiting the aggregation of arsenals far beyond what would be sufficient for self-defense. Many state and federal laws throughout American history have also regulated specific dangerous weapons or accessories used for criminal and other violent purposes, such as machine guns or short-barreled shotguns. 

The brief is the most recent step in Attorney General Raoul’s work to address gun violence throughout Illinois and across the nation. The Attorney General’s office created a state-of-the-art crime-gun tracing database for Illinois law enforcement called Crime Gun Connect. Raoul’s office also collaborates with local law enforcement to combat gun trafficking and has used the office’s jurisdiction to prosecute multi-county gun trafficking offenses. Additionally, the Attorney General’s office works with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to increase awareness of Illinois’ red flag law and to address gaps in Illinois’ firearms licensing system. The office also continues to prosecute individuals who lie on FOID card applications.

The Attorney General’s office partners with the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) to try to avert violence by hosting trainings for law enforcement officers, educators, religious leaders and other community members that are designed to prevent targeted acts of violence.

Attorney General Raoul has persistently advocated at the federal and state levels to strengthen regulation of 3D-printed guns and ghost guns. Illinois law now prohibits ghost guns, but the office continues to fight in federal court to help defend a recent rule closing the federal loophole. Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office also defends cases pending in courts across the state challenging Illinois regulations of firearms. Nationally, Attorney General Raoul successfully filed and resolved a lawsuit to get the federal firearm license of an unscrupulous arms manufacturer revoked.

In addition to supporting law enforcement efforts to keep communities safe from gun violence, the Attorney General’s office supports victims’ service providers around Illinois that offer trauma-informed services for crime victims and their families. Raoul’s Violence Prevention and Crime Victim Services Division administers a host of programs and services to assist survivors of violent crime. More information is available on the Attorney General’s website.

Joining Raoul in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.