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Challenge to Vermont’s Magazine Ban

From NRA:

Fairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced support for a lawsuit brought by Vermont citizens, sporting-goods stores, and shooting clubs to challenge the state’s recent ban on many of the most popular firearm magazines in America.

“The magazines Vermont has now banned are owned by millions of law-abiding Americans,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “In fact, nearly half of all magazines in the nation would now be deemed ‘large capacity’ by Vermont.”

At issue in the lawsuit is one of the measures signed into law by Governor Scott on April 11, which bans the possession, sale, purchase, or transfer of long-gun magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds and handgun magazines with a capacity greater than 15.

“Vermont claims its new ban will advance public safety, but we know from other States that have experimented with this type of misguided ban that violent criminals are not going to adhere to the ban. The only people really harmed by the ban are the law-abiding citizens who will now be forced to defend themselves, their families, and their homes from violent attack by using sub-standard ammunition magazines. We are pleased to have been able to support the plaintiffs in this fight to vindicate their rights under the Vermont Constitution, and we expect the Vermont Courts to swiftly strike down this plainly unconstitutional ban.”

Challenging through state court is smart. We’ve had much better luck with state court rulings on the Second Amendment and state analogues than we have with the federal courts. Pursuing this via the First Circuit Court system would have a predictable result: we’d lose.

Stevens on Repealing the Second Amendment

I couldn’t have asked for a better gift. First reaction is that this is at least an honest position. I agree most with Glenn Reynolds on this particular op-ed by the former Supreme Court Justice:

1. Calls to repeal the Second Amendment are, despite whatever gyrations the callers go through, tacit admissions that the Second Amendment bars sweeping gun control.

2. Good luck with that, we’re more likely to see an amendment banning abortion pass than one repealing the Second Amendment.

3. The Second Amendment, according to the Framers (and some Supreme Court dictum) recognizes a natural right; repealing the amendment doesn’t extinguish the right.

4. Nothing could be better for the GOP in 2018 and 2020 races than for the Dems to make this an issue.

I think this is right. It’s also a good time to rehash Charles C.W. Cooke’s take on it. The one thing that can save the GOP from its own incompetence, sloth, and back stabbing is the Democrats taking positions far outside the mainstream and that are politically untenable. I actually wish they wouldn’t, because I’d like to put some epic punishment on the GOP, but I fear their chief competitor needs it worse at the moment.

Lawsuits are Back, Baby!

While ANJRPC are filing suit in the 3rd Circuit over Governor Murphy’s reversal of former Governor Christie’s policy of granting carry licenses to those who have demonstrated true threats against them, in the 2nd Circuit, NYSRPA are filing suit over a provision of the SAFE Act that just went into effect requiring licenses to be renewed every 5 years. Most gun owners in in New York State are now felons, without even realizing it. Massachusetts made a similar move some years ago, and yes, people did go to prison over it. Most gun owners are not all that political, and many of them will never hear that their handgun permit, which has been a lifetime permit for years, is now suddenly no longer a lifetime permit. Many others will hear of the law, but see their permit is a lifetime permit, and think “Well, this doesn’t apply to me then.” The idea that people like this belong in state prison is kind of sick. This is not tin-foil-hat paranoia; I can point to cases where this has happened. When Bitter was working for the issue in Mass, even years later, there would still be the occasional felony charge for someone caught with an “expired” lifetime license. Sorry, we’ve altered the deal. Pray we do not alter it any further.

The resumption of lawsuits is a welcome development, and probably represents the belief that the makeup of the Court will soon be changing in our favor. Second Amendment law has not gone well for us since McDonald, for the most part. The midterms may be a bloodbath for the GOP, so I still do worry. I also believe Ginburg and Breyer will only vacate their seats via hearse. Kennedy likewise doesn’t seem remarkably interested in retirement. But it takes cases years to get to the Supreme Court, and it seems likely by the time these lawsuits reach the high court, it will have changed. The question is whether it will have changed for the better.

If at first you don’t succeed, Try Try Again

ANJRPC  is taking another shot at NJ’s May Issue permitting regime. The actual complaint can be found here (PDF).

Amusing quote:

“Plaintiffs acknowledge that the result they seek is contrary to Drake v. Filko, 724 F.3d 426 (3d Cir. 2014), but, for the reasons explained in Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650 (D.C. Cir. 2017), that case was wrongly decided.”

That’ll do well at the Circuit Court, I bet.

I wonder what Scott Bach thinks is going to change at SCOTUS in the next couple of years than will get SCOTUS to take this case up instead of letting it languish like all the other may-issue cases?

Illinois Supreme Court Axes 1000ft from Park Rule

At least some courts have been willing to take the Second Amendment seriously. As Dave Hardy mentions, we’re getting so many new levels of scrutiny from the Second Amendment, one can hardly keep up with them all. But at least the Illinois Supreme Court was willing to entertain the idea that the Second Amendment deserves something better than a dressed up version of rational basis review.

Eugene Volokh’s analysis can be found here. The court seems to have correctly discerned that the reason for such a law has more to do with discouraging people from exercising their rights than with public safety.

Domestic Violence Prohibition Upheld

A federal court has ruled that the prohibition on domestic violence misdemeanants from keeping and bearing arms is constitutional. This is not surprising, since the Supreme Court has basically signals to the lower courts that they are free to ignore Heller and McDonald, and that they need not fear having their ruling, however awful, overturned. Here’s things I wish courts would consider:

  • There’s a difference in degree of infringement between someone who already owns firearms and being forced to give them up, and someone who does not own firearms not being able to buy any for the duration of the prohibition.
  • While the Lautenberg Amendment may not be an ex post facto law, the application of the prohibition on anyone who was ever convicted is a violation of their right to due process under the 5th and 14th Amendments.
  • Lifetime prohibitions triggered by misdemeanor convictions should always be regarded with considerable suspicion in regards to constitutionality.
  • Prohibitions should be something applied by judges as part of a sentence. The retroactive application of a prohibition is always a due process violation, even for felons. A defendant has to know which of his rights are on the line at the time he is accused and tried.

I don’t think applying a temporary prohibition to misdemeanants is on its face unconstitutional, but Lautenberg probably should be.

The Senate Math for CCW in 2017

It’s not looking probable; we would need a miracle. Here’s the breakdown

Starting with the 2013 vote (57 Ayes to invoke cloture), I did up a spreadsheet of the likely vote results in 2017, based on current occupancy, the 2013 vote, and the Senators political stances on the issue.

I came out with maximum of 59 Aye votes (assuming Luther Strange gets to vote Aye or his replacement votes Aye).

The vote delta (because we had both gains and losses)

NH: -1 (Maggie Hassan replaced Kelly Ayotte)

IA: +1 (Joni Ernst replaced Tom Harkin)

SD: +1 (Mike Rounds replaced Tim Johnson)

WV: +1 (Shelley Moore replaced John Rockefeller)

However, what I don’t see is the 60th vote. I broke out the Nay votes who are in seats up in 2018 in states that voted for Trump

Bill Nelson is a hard NO
Claire McCaskill is a hard NO
Sherrod Brown is a hard NO
Bob Casey is a firm No
Tammy Baldwin is a hard NO

And, if anyone flips to be the 60th, I wouldn’t put it past some of the presumptive Ayes to flip to Nay to prevent it. Fix NICS is already being pulled out as a cover for voting Nay (and was used for that purpose in the House).

Now, maybe the GOP leadership knows something I don’t, or this really was a setup to burnish everybody’s 2A pro/con credentials. Whichever way that goes, if you want reciprocity this year, better start praying.

Should Have Cut a Deal When You Had a Chance

Prof. Adam Winkler is taking to the op-ed pages speaking out against H.R. 38, mostly because it lets people from California get an out of state license and carry in their home state. I’d note that previous versions did not have this feature, and were limited to non-residents and only to people with licenses. If gun control folks had cut a deal with us years ago, that’s the law they would have gotten. But they made us wait hoping things would get better for them. They bet wrong, so I have no sympathy. I have no sympathy for the argument that the law is unconstitutional:

The law is likely also unconstitutional. Congress has only limited powers, and the Supreme Court has expressly held Congress has little authority to regulate carrying guns on public streets.

The carry act has language seeking to work around this problem. It is limited to possessing or carrying a handgun that has traveled in interstate commerce. But this is a clear pretext, as nearly all guns travel in interstate commerce. Whether that pretextual hook will be enough for the courts we will have to see.

It’s enough to ban felons possessing firearms and to ban machine guns, isn’t it? Or does the “herpes theory” of the commerce clause only apply when we’re talking gun control, rather than civil rights protection. I’d give Prof. Winkler that there are potential Bourne issues with the 14th Amendment, but I don’t also see why Congress can’t enact this based either on Full Faith and Credit or its Militia powers. The contours of both have never really been all that extensively litigated. Even Bourne may not really be an issue, since it’s arguable that H.R. 38 compliments the right to carry, which was already assumed to exist in Heller. Additionally, H.R. 38 implements the kind of framework which is actually a more apt exercise of Congressional power than Judicial power. So are the Bourne issues really there? Bourne was meant to reinstate the Sherbert test, which SCOTUS decided to abandon. The RFRA specifically was targeted to overturn a Supreme Court decision. H.R. 38 does not do that. The Supreme Court recognized a right to carry in Heller, and applied it to the states under the 14th Amendment in McDonald. If one believes that the federal government has a role to play in civil rights protection, something that liberals used to strongly support, why should H.R. 38 be unconstitutional, rather than an appropriate exercise of Congress’ Section 5 powers of the 14th Amendment?

How Philadelphia Plans to Shut down Convenience Stores that Sell Beer

If you’re Councilwoman Bass, you’ll put them out of business by making them easier to rob.

A controversial bill under consideration would require liquor stores to pull down the bulletproof glass they currently use to protect their clerks. After all, liquor stores are often prime targets for robbery. The glass keeps clerks safe, at least to some extent, and now it needs to come down.

These store owners tend to be Korean, so the accusation is being thrown around that the motivation for this is straight up racism. These business technically operate as restaurants. Convenience stores can’t sell alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania, so what some stores do is to have a limited menu of items, apply for a liquor license as a restaurant, and then sell takeout, which restaurants are allowed to do.

I covered this issue some time ago, about the double standards at work here, and was very proud to have the current Mayor of Philadelphia tell me to go eff myself. You sell 7% ABV beers to white hipsters and no one cares. Do the same in minority neighborhoods and the world is coming to and end and we must stop it. Hard for me to agree there’s no racial issues at work here. I get the concern over social problems, but last I checked, dealing drugs, public intoxication, and public urination (all mentioned by Councilwoman Bass) were all crimes. Maybe address those issues, rather than targeting people who run the stores and ultimately their customers, many of whom probably just want a beer at the end of a hard day like we all do.

It is absolutely beyond the pale that this Councilwoman would see people get shot and stabbed. She should be ashamed for even proposing this. I would argue that armor are arms, and a bill like this should be properly found unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment.

Movement on National Reciprocity

House Judiciary Committee approves HR38 by a 19-11 vote. Lately we’ve had some argument within the community about the powers National Reciprocity, and the power that is based on.

H.R.38 should be amended to (1) unhinge it from the constitutionally- antagonistic Commerce Clause doctrine, and (2) expressly provide statutory protection of the fundamental, individual rights under the Second Amendment made applicable to the States and local governments by the Fourteenth Amendment.

I’d note that H.R. 38 does not go into any detail about which federal power it’s based on, and frankly, it doesn’t have to. There’s not requirement that Congress enumerate what powers it’s using and it doesn’t always do this. Any and all arguments about this being within Congress’ enumerated powers can and will be made when this law is inevitably challenged in Court. There is more than one power that plausibly supports H.R. 38 and the Fourteenth Amendment is one of them.

But whether the constitutionalist in us all likes it or not, the most solid framework National Reciprocity rests on is the commerce clause. This shouldn’t be, but based on existing court precedent, it is. There are serious Bourne issues arguing the 14th Amendment. So here’s the question: do you want to win, or do you want to participate in a constitutional debating society? Note that the test cases for this are likely to involved good people risking many years in prison. I’m absolutely comfortable arguing anything that will prevent this from happening. My conscience will be clear, because if the Courts actually did their jobs, the Constitution would mean you can carry anywhere already. If I have to fight within the framework they created to achieve that, so be it.

Understand that the entire felon-in-possession statute, all of 18 USC 922(g), 922(o), rely on “that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” The federal courts are going to be very reluctant to start rocking that apple cart. But yeah, we could be pure and only make the 14th Amendment argument. And the courts, which are going to be looking six ways from Sunday to invalidate National Reciprocity, especially in the hostile jurisdictions it’s likely to face challenge in, will just cite Bourne and be done with it. Off to jail with the unlucky bastard who ends up being the test case. Good luck with life on the inside while you await your appeal.

No, we make the commerce argument, along with anything else that could possibly uphold this. It might not please the constitutional debate society, but I’m tired of that shit. I want to win. I want our rights protected, and I don’t care if I have to work in whatever shitty framework the courts have laid out for me.

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