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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


~ Following an amicus brief filed by Herring and Maryland AG Frosh supporting the federal government’s petition for rehearing, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the case as moot and accordingly vacated a panel decision striking a longstanding gun violence prevention law ~

RICHMOND Following an amicus brief filed by Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh defending the decades-old federal gun violence prevention law that limits the sale of handguns to those age 21 and older, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the case is moot and accordingly vacated the panel decision striking down the longstanding law. In their amicus brief, the attorneys general said they believed that a 2-1 panel decision by the Fourth Circuit had issued a legally incorrect ruling overturning the more than 50-yea-old law, and supported the Biden Administration's request that the panel decision be reconsidered.


“From the outset, we believed that the panel had gotten this one wrong, and I’m glad that the Fourth Circuit has now vacated that decision upon finding the case is moot,” said Attorney General Herring. “Handguns are too often the weapon of choice for dangerous individuals who may want to harm themselves, an intimate partner, or even commit a crime. With this decision, this constitutional, longstanding gun safety law that has kept Virginians and our communities safe for decades will remain on the books.


In their amicus brief filed earlier this month, Attorney Generals Herring and Frosh explain the importance of upholding this federal law by saying, “[m]ore than a thousand Virginians and more than 750 Marylanders are killed each year by gunfire…Throughout both States, families and communities know the pain of firearms-related suicides, accidental fatal shootings, mass shootings, and interpersonal, workplace, or intimate-partner violence that claim lives in urban, suburban, and rural communities…The challenged laws…have helped prevent gun violence for over half a century and remain an important part of the federal and state gun laws on which Virginia and Maryland rely in keeping their citizens safe.”


Additionally, in the brief Attorney General Herring and Attorney General Frosh noted their concern over the fact that this panel struck down this longstanding law by relying on arcane militia law and emphasizing militia involvement as part of the Second Amendment. The attorneys general argued:

  • The militia minimum age was not fixed at age 18 and has changed frequently over time. Historically in Virginia and Maryland 21 was considered the age of majority and legislatures often altered the minimum age for militia service.
  • Militias have been a source of exclusion and social dysfunction. Historically, the militia harmed Black Americans and other minority groups and in recent history paramilitary groups have claimed the mantle of “militia” in ways that threaten civil governance.
  • The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms cannot be equated with the historic obligation to serve in the militia.


Attorney General Herring has also successfully defended Virginia’s new gun violence prevention laws against legal attack by the gun lobby, including Virginia’s expanded background checks law, Virginia’s red flag law, and the reinstatement of one-handgun-per-month.


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