In theory, I sleep sometime during the NRA convention, but it never feels like enough. That is probably why I, as a non-coffee drinker, regularly down multiple cups a day at the NRA Annual Meeting.
Friday is pretty much dedicated to the NRA Foundation Annual Law Seminar at the show. With the dramatic increase in the number of potentially important cases coming up, it’s so much harder to keep track of which cases are dealing with which laws in which states and where they stand. The good news that I learned today is that people who are much smarter than I am also have to stop and think about these various cases for a moment before talking about them.
To kick things off, Stephen Halbrook started with an overview of the recent challenges to New York & Connecticut’s gun laws. He had many good points in his analysis of the decisions, including his reasons why the district court erred in applying intermediate scrutiny in NYSRPA v Cuomo. One that stuck out in my mind as a non-lawyer was this:
The third reason given by the district court to apply intermediate scrutiny was that the prohibition here “is akin to a time, place, and manner restriction” such as may be found in First Amendment jurisprudence. … But the Act does not regulat the time, place and manner in which the subject firearms may be possessed, but bans them every time, place, and manner.
Dave Kopel kicked things off with themes from his paper, The First Amendment Guide to the Second Amendment and then gave some great insight into the trial for the Colorado challenges. The item in his speech that attracted the most response from the audience was when he mentioned that it seems the judge knows how guns actually operate. Rather than making many of the arguments in the preliminary injunction phase, KopelÂ decided to forego that and bring the meat of the issues to trial. Apparently, Massad Ayoob deserves a lot of credit for making testimony so thorough that the defense declined to cross examine him. After that, there was discussion of the new Illinois carry laws from Joel Ostrander that was quite amusingly titled, “Porcine Aviation Arrives in Illinois,” covering the numerous details of Illinois new shall-issue carry law.
Then there was Prof. Nicholas Johnson’s presentation that also highlighted many of the themes in his recent book, Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms. I’ve purchased the book, but haven’t sat down to read it yet. In the meantime, here is just one point from his law review article, “Firearms Policy and the Black Community: An Assessment of the Modern Orthodoxy” that I think stood out as food for thought on state failure to protect the lives of African Americans historically vs in the 21st century:
Even if it is true that Blacks no longer have to worry about racist violence and malevolent governments (or more contestably their agents), the objection ignores that the Black self-defense tradition is fundamentally a response to the failure and limitations of government. It is true that the Black self-defense tradition emerged in a context where much of the reason for this failure was overt hostility and official neglect. But it is a mistake to presume that the reason for failure of government is pivotal. From the perspective of people at risk, the reason is secondary. The central thing is that they face a physical threat within a window of state failure.
For lunch, we heard from Prof. Brian Anse Patrick who talked about, as he prefers to call it, propaganda and the horizontal communities gun owners have formed to community with each other in a way that has been able to bypass the mainstream media. His book, The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage, is actually available for free to borrow for Amazon Prime customers.
There was much more, including a very informative and practical presentation on gun trusts from Sarah Gervase of NRA’s General Counsel’s office. Sarah is really great at getting to the meat of the issue in a way that keeps your attention focused on the speech and materials, and I’m not even a lawyer dealing in these professional issues! She also sprinkles in enough jokes and random historical facts to keep non-professionals like me really interested. For example, when she covered the topic of suppressors, she noted that there’s actually no mention of why Congress decided to include them into the NFA in the Congressional Record at all, so no one seems to know exactly why they were included – it’s mere speculation.
After that, there was a very good presentation by Andrew Branca who is know more in the blogosphere as the primary contributor on many self defense cases for Legal Insurrection, as well as on Twitter as @LawSelfDefense. Things wrapped up with a quick reception, and then people flocked to other events.
As the evening wore on, we went to dinner with Dave Hardy where topics from Waco to Civil War records were discussed. I swear, that man forgets more history in a week than I’ll ever learn. But, perhaps of more interest to readers of this blog, we had another opportunity to “research” the issue of bars and restaurants downtown posting by checking out another joint that was recommended on Yelp that was wonderfully close to our hotel so I could change out of my heels. As opposed to the joint that posted against guns last night, the attached photos were the signs greeting us at Loughmiller’s Pub, just across from the convention center. So, contrary to what the manager told our reader, there definitely does not appear to be any sign that the police department requested last night’s (attempted) dinner joint to post.