The Sununu administration signed on to a legal brief calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out a Maryland law banning so-called ‘assault weapons,’ calling it unconstitutional.
The coalition of 25 states is led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. New Hampshire is the only northeastern state to join the effort.
“Americans do not require approval from a local jurisdiction to exercise their constitutional rights,” Brnovich said. “We must vigorously oppose this type of misguided overreach at all levels of government.”
The Maryland law in question bans the sale or purchase of semi-automatic weapons with other cosmetic features that some people associate with ‘assault weapons.’ In fact, the guns are no more dangerous than any other semi-automatic weapon. The law also places restrictions on detachable magazines with a capacity larger than 10 rounds.
According to the amicus brief signed by New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, the states involved “are among the forty-three states that permit the commonly used civilian firearms that Maryland has banned outright (the “Affected Firearms”). These States have advanced their compelling interests in promoting public safety, preventing crime, and reducing criminal firearm violence without a rifle ban such as the one here.
And, the brief also notes, “the Affected Firearms are common to the point of ubiquity among law-abiding gun owners.”
The data show rifles like the AR-15 and similar modern sporting rifles covered by this law are rarely used in crimes or to commit homicides. And New Hampshire, which has some of the country’s least-restrictive gun laws, also has the lowest murder rate in the nation.
According to Stephen Gutowski of The Reload, one of the leading journalists covering U.S. gun policy, the participation of New Hampshire is significant.
“While the 25 attorneys general who signed on to the brief are Republicans, they come from a wide range of states with very different politics. West Virginia, Utah, Arizona, and New Hampshire are unique politically. That they all signed on to a brief asking the Supreme Court to limit state governments’ power to ban so-called assault weapons shows the dynamic appeal of that position–especially within Republican circles. That may give the Supreme Court more food for thought when deciding the next gun case to take up.”
In his first four years as governor, Sununu rarely joined national issues on cultural issues like these. However, since the pandemic — and the election of President Joe Biden — the pace of Sununu’s activism has picked up. For example, Formella joined several legal challenges to Biden’s vaccine mandates, including an attempt to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to force large employers to mandate vaccines or testing. Biden lost in court and eventually abandoned the effort.
Formella also joined the opposition to an IRS plan to monitor transactions of Americans whose bank accounts had an annual total balance of just $600. The Biden administration dropped that plan, too.
Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler, who has clashed with Sununu on issues like federally-funded vaccine distribution, tells NHJournal he is delighted the governor is getting out front on the Second Amendment.
“An armed man is a citizen, an unarmed man is a subject,” Wheeler said. “Again, Gov. Sununu displays his support for our right to keep and bear arms. I certainly support New Hampshire joining the case.”
State Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), who is seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, also released a statement in support of the Sununu administration.
“I fully support the state’s efforts joining the legal case against Maryland’s egregious and unconstitutional prohibition on the Second Amendment. New Hampshire is consistently ranked among the safest states in the nation due to our pro-Second Amendment and Article 2a protections, and it’s far beyond time to take that same approach to Washington. By protecting our right to bear arms the 603 way, not the Washington D.C. way, we’ve created safer communities and neighborhoods for all Granite Staters. I commend Governor Sununu and Attorney General Formella for joining this effort in support of the Second Amendment.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan supports assault weapons bans and backed Biden’s controversial nominee David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Biden eventually withdrew the nomination when moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate objected to Chipman’s aggressive record on gun control.