November 1st, 2016

Why All Gun Owners Should Vote in the Upcoming Election

NSSF gunvote election Supreme Court Second Amendment

The election is now just one week away. This is not just about who will become President. With Supreme Court appointments at stake, this election could have significant, long-term consequences for gun owners’ rights under the Second Amendment. We may be at an historic juncture in our nation’s history. If control of the U.S. House and Senate changes, and if anti-Second Amendment Supreme Court Justices are appointed, then things could change in very bad ways for the shooting sports. In the video below, National Shooting Sports Foundation President/CEO Steve Sanetti asks all gun owners to go to the polls armed with the facts. Exercise your right to vote. Remember, every vote counts.

Message from Steve Sanetti:

The lawful commerce in firearms and [your] rights … to enjoy the shooting sports are squarely at issue this year.

And this election is about far more than just the Presidential candidates. Control of both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and all the important appointments and executive orders that the next President can make, are all at stake.

And your State and local elections can also affect your ability to enjoy your rights to manufacture, sell, own, and use firearms.

So please — don’t sit this one out. Your vote, and every vote, counts. Learn where all the candidates stand, talk to your family, your friends and your coworkers, and vote! This election is up to you, and America is counting on you!

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July 30th, 2016

GOP 2016 Platform on Second Amendment and Gun Rights

Republican 2016 Platform gun rights Second Amendment

With the Republican (GOP) Convention recently concluded in Cleveland, readers have asked: “What is the official Republican Party position on the Second Amendment and gun rights?” Here is the section of the Republican Platform concerning gun issues, quoted word for word:

The Second Amendment: Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms
We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a natural inalienable right that predates the Constitution and is secured by the Second Amendment. Lawful gun ownership enables Americans to exercise their God-given right of self-defense for the safety of their homes, their loved ones, and their communities.

We salute the Republican Congress for defending the right to keep and bear arms by preventing the President from installing a new liberal majority on the Supreme Court. The confirmation to the Court of additional anti-gun justices would eviscerate the Second Amendment’s fundamental protections. Already, local officials in the nation’s capital and elsewhere are defying the Court’s decisions upholding an individual right to bear arms as affirmed by the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald. We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in all 50 states. We support constitutional carry statutes and salute the states that have passed them. We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle. We also oppose any effort to deprive individuals of their right to keep and bear arms without due process of law.

We condemn frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers and the current Administration’s illegal harassment of firearm dealers. We oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners, registration of ammunition, and restoration of the ill-fated Clinton gun ban. We call for a thorough investigation — by a new Republican administration — of the deadly “Fast and Furious” operation perpetrated by Department of Justice officials who approved and allowed illegal sales of
guns to known violent criminals.

CLICK HERE to Read Complete 2016 Republican Platform

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March 26th, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Confirms Broad Scope of Second Amendment

Second Amendment gun rights supreme court scotus dean weingarten massachusetts stun gun

Commentary by Dean Weingarten, Gun Watch
In an historic, but extremely short unanimous opinion, the United States Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment applies “to all instruments that constitute bearable arms,”. As this is an enormous class of nearly all weapons, the decision [could be] applied to knives and clubs, and nearly all firearms that have been sold in the United States. Nearly all types of firearms are more common than stun guns. From nbcnews.com:

“But in an unsigned opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court [on 3/21/2016] vacated that ruling. It said the Massachusetts court improperly found that Second Amendment protection applies only to weapons that were in common use at the time of the nation’s founding.”

Referring to its landmark 2008 D.C. v. Heller ruling on handguns in the home, the justices said the Second Amendment applies “to all instruments that constitute bearable arms,” even those not in existence at the time of the founding.

The unsigned opinion is very short[.] Alito writes a much longer and more forceful opinion in concurrence. It could, and should, have gone much further. None the less, it is an enormous win for Second Amendment supporters, and it extends far beyond stun guns and Massachusetts.

There is strong language in this opinion. If 200,000 stun guns in the U.S. are “common”, it is hard to believe that 5 million AR-15s and millions of other semi-automatic rifles are “unusual”.

The case lays to rest the idea that courts can simply say anything other than handguns are “uncommon” or “unusual” and are therefore exempt from Second Amendment protections. This case will be cited far into the future.

The full, unanimous decision, along with Justice Alito’s lengthy concurrence, is found via this LINK:

14-10078 Caetano v. Massachusetts (PDF)

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch

(more…)

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October 22nd, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide Firearms ‘Straw Purchaser’ Case

U.S. Supreme Court seal logo scotusThe U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to adjudicate a case involving a firearms purchase and subsequent resale to a family member. The case of Abramski v. United States, arises from the prosecution of Bruce James Abramski, Jr., a former Virginia police officer, for allegedly making a “straw purchase” of a Glock handgun. Abramski had lawfully purchased a Glock pistol in Virginia, then later resold the Glock to his uncle, a resident of Pennsylvania. Both purchases were conducted through FFLs, with full background checks, and both parties were legally entitled to own a handgun. Abramski arranged the sale in this fashion to take advantage of a discount available to him as a law enforcement officer.

Abramski was indicted and prosecuted for violating Federal laws against “straw purchases”, specifically making a false declaration on BATFE Form 4473, which is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6). Abramski challenged the indictment, but the District Court ruled against him and the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s decision. However, the Fourth Circuit acknowledged that there was a split of authority among the Circuits as to whether § 922(a)(6) applied in a case like this one, where the ultimate recipient of the firearm was lawfully entitled to buy a gun himself. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling conflicts with previous decisions by the Fifth Circuit holding that “straw purchaser” laws are NOT violated if both the original purchaser and secondary buyer are legally entitled to own a firearm. See United States v. Polk, 118 F.3d 286 (5th Cir. 1997).

U.S. Supreme Court seal logo scotusThe key issue is whether Abramski committed a crime by buying a gun, and then promptly re-selling it to another person who was legally entitled to own the firearm. The government argues that Abramski broke the law when he checked a box on Form 4473 indicating he was the “actual transferee/buyer of the firearm”.

Arguably, Abramski’s purchase and subsequent resale did not violate the intent of the law, since the Glock never ended up in the hands of a criminal (or someone who was otherwise barred from gun ownership). The John Floyd Law Firm explains this argument:

“Attorneys for Abramski sought to have the indictment dismissed on the legal premise that because Abramski and the uncle were both legally entitled to purchase a firearm, Abramski could not be a ‘straw purchaser.’ Attorneys further argued that Abramski’s ‘yes’ answer to question 11(a) on the 4473 that he was actual buyer of the Glock was never intended to be punished under the Gun Control Act of 1968 if the buyer had a legal right to purchase the weapon. The attorneys theorized that the intent of Congress in passing this Act was ‘to make it possible to keep firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them.’

Second Amendment proponents strongly believe there is nothing wrong with a nephew purchasing a weapon he is legally entitled to purchase with the specific intent to sell it to an uncle who is also legally entitled to purchase a weapon. The Fifth Circuit says such a purchase is legal because both parties are legally entitled to purchase and possess a firearm. The Sixth and Eleventh Circuits [and now the Fourth Circuit] say these legal entitlements do not matter.”

Soon the U.S. Supreme Court will decide which interpretation of the law is correct.

CLICK LINKS Below to Read Briefs Filed in Abramski v. U.S.

Date Proceedings and Orders
Jun 21 2013 Petition for a writ of certiorari filed.
Jul 25 2013 Brief amici curiae of Steve Stockman, et al. filed.
Jul 25 2013 Brief amicus curiae of NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund filed.
Aug 26 2013 Brief of respondent United States in opposition filed.
Sep 9 2013 Reply of petitioner Bruce James Abramski, Jr. filed.
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July 21st, 2012

Australian Shooters Win Lawsuit to Preserve Famed ANZAC Range

Malabar Headland NSW ANZAC Range NSWRAScore one for Australian shooters. After a lengthy legal battle, the New South Wales Rifle Association (NSWRA) has preserved its rights to use the historic ANZAC Range on the outskirts of Sydney.

Last week, the New South Wales Supreme Court ruled that the Commonwealth Government could not shut down NSWRA shooting operations at ANZAC Range (and sell the 100-hectare Range site) because the Commonwealth had not provided a suitable alternative facility. The Court held that, under the terms of a 2000 License Agreement, NSWRA could not be evicted from the ANZAC Range until such time as a suitable new range was provided for use by the NSWRA and affiliated shooting clubs.

The ANZAC Range, the largest rifle range in the southern hemisphere, is located on the Malabar Headland, south of Sydney. The ANZAC Range has been a revered venue for Australian marksmen for more than a century and a half. It is headquarters to the New South Wales Rifle Association (NSWRA), and hosts the annual NSW Queen’s Prize. The range is shared among various shooting associations and clubs with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) occupying the “southern” end of the complex. The range is also extensively used by clubs affiliated with the SSAA and NSWRA. The ANZAC range is steeped in history. It has been used for recreational shooting since the 1860s. The term “ANZAC” comes from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The early Australian Defense Corps trained at the Malabar Range, and Allied troops trained there during World War II.

Malabar Headland NSW ANZAC Range NSWRA

In recent decades, the New South Wales Rifle Association has been embroiled in a court case against the Commonwealth Government over the Malabar Headland, the land on which the ANZAC Rifle Range is located. In July 1986 the Commonwealth Government resolved to sell the ANZAC Rifle Range. Since that time the NSW Rifle Association and the dozens of gun clubs that regularly use the ANZAC Rifle Range have been facing closure. There were a series of eviction notices and legal proceedings, culminating in a year 2000 License Agreement under which the NSWRA was allowed ongoing use of the ANZAC Rifle Range at Malabar until an alternative site became available. There were plans to open a new public range for the NSWRA at the Holsworthy Army Base. However, those plans were scrapped and the Commonwealth never acquired and built a new facility. (Under the terms of the License Agreement, the Commonwealth was to give the NSWRA part of the Holsworthy Barracks and $9 million to help it relocate there.)

Malabar Headland NSW ANZAC Range NSWRACommonwealth officials assert the ANZAC Range would be converted to a National Park once shooting activities were terminated. The Range property would be deeded to the NSW State Government for Park use.

Though there were a number of lesser issues involved in the ANZAC Range litigation (including asbestos abatement and structure maintenance), the NSW Supreme Court’s decision turned on the failure of the Commonwealth to provide an alternative facility: “The Commonwealth has not given a Relocation Notice. Apparently it was decided that it was not appropriate that the Holsworthy Army Base be made available to provide a range for private shooting clubs. Although other potential rifle ranges have been identified, so far as appears, no steps have been taken, other than the carrying out of studies, to relocate the ANZAC Rifle Range.”

Under the terms of the Court’s ruling, the NSWRA can continue to use the ANZAC Range (but not necessarily forever). The Supreme Court’s ruling specifically blocks the Commonwealth from evicting the NSWRA from the ANZAC Range… for now. And likewise the Commonwealth is enjoined from selling or transferring the range property on the Malabar Headland. A range closure is still possible in the years ahead, but the Commonwealth must first provide a suitable replacement range complex.

Aussie Shooters Celebrate Legal Victory
Australian shooters are hailing this court decision as a major victory. The editor of Shooting.com.au, a leading Australian shooting sports website, tells us: “The NSWRA has won its case against the Government, thereby establishing [an important] precedent for shooters in Australia. Where previously we were trod upon without care, we now have a strong precedent with which to challenge, and hopefully prevail over, future legislative changes and government actions. It’s been a long time since Australian shooters had anything to celebrate about.” For more information, visit www.saveanzacrange.com.

READ the NSW Supreme Court Ruling
CLICK HERE for Transcript of New South Wales Supreme Court Judgment and Order in NSW Rifle Association Inc. v. The Commonwealth of Australia.

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July 5th, 2010

NRA Officially Opposes Elena Kagan Nomination to Supreme Court

On July 1st, the NRA and NRA-ILA sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the letter, the NRA explained that “throughout her political career, [Kagan] has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution”. CLICK HERE for PDF file with full text of the NRA/NRA-ILA letter.

Highlights of NRA and NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) Letter

As [Kagan] has no judicial record on which we can rely, we have only her political record to review. And throughout her political career, she has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Elena KaganAs a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ms. Kagan said she was “not sympathetic” to a challenge to Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns and draconian registration requirements. As domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, a colleague described her as “immersed” in President Clinton’s gun control policy efforts. For example, she was involved in an effort to ban more than 50 types of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms — an effort that was described as: “taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns.” And as U.S. Solicitor General, she chose not to file a brief last year in the landmark case McDonald v. Chicago, thus taking the position that incorporating the Second Amendment and applying it to the States was of no interest to the Obama Administration or the federal government. These are not the positions of a person who supports the Second Amendment.

During her confirmation hearings last year, Justice Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly stated that the Supreme Court’s historic Heller decision was “settled law”. Even further, in response to a question from Chairman Leahy, she said “I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller’.” Yet last Monday in McDonald, she joined a dissenting opinion which stated: “I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as ‘fundamental’ insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes”. We would also note that both Heller and McDonald were 5-4 decisions. The fact that four justices would effectively write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution is completely unacceptable.

Ms. Kagan has repeatedly declined to say whether she agrees with the dissenting views of justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, which leaves unanswered the very serious questions of whether she would vote to overturn Heller and McDonald or narrow their holdings to a practical nullity.

Any individual who does not believe that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less receive a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. Justice Sotomayor’s blatant reversal on this critical issue requires that we look beyond statements made during confirmation hearings and examine a nominee’s entire body of work.

Unfortunately, Ms. Kagan’s record on the Second Amendment gives us no confidence that if confirmed to the Court, she will faithfully defend the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding Americans.

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July 5th, 2010

Lawyer Alan Gura Talks about Landmark Supreme Court Second Amendment Cases: McDonald v. Chicago, D.C. v. Heller

In McDonald v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Second Amendment applies to State and Local goverment actions, not just to Federal laws and activities. In so ruling, the High Court established that State and municipal laws can be challenged on the grounds that they violate a citizen’s individual right to “keep and bear arms”.

This landmark decision was the focus of the July 4th edition of Gun Talk Radio, when host Tom Gresham interviewed Attorney Alan Gura, lead counsel for Otis McDonald and other plaintiffs. Gura was also the lawyer who successfully challenged the District of Columbia gun ban, in D.C. v. Heller.

If you missed the July 4th broadcast, you can still hear what Gura has to say about the Supreme Court rulings in the McDonald and Heller cases. Gun Talk Radio archives its past broadcasts. Just right click on the Podcast icon below and “Save As” to download an .mp3 file with the Alan Gura interview. This is a very thought-provoking interview. We strongly recommend you listen.

podcast guntalk
Guntalk 2010-07-04 Part A
Hour One – Guests Alan Gura, Attorney
and U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK

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June 8th, 2010

Kagan Involved in Anti-Gun Policy-Making as Clinton Advisor

Elena KaganThe NSSF reports that newly released documents show Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was involved in forming Clinton Administration policy on gun control, including, apparently, proposing that President Clinton issue an Executive Order to prohibit firearm sales without prior police certification/approval. The Washington Post reports that Kagan helped formulate gun control measures during the three years she served as a domestic policy advisor for Clinton.

After analyzing documents turned over by the Clinton Library, the Washington Post revealed: “Kagan was immersed in initiatives on gun control. In deliberations about how the Clinton administration should respond to a Supreme Court ruling that the federal government could not force local or state police to conduct background checks on gun purchasers, she appears to support such checks.” One document revealed that Elena had suggested that Clinton might issue an Executive Order banning gun sales without prior police approval. Based on these documents, it appears Kagan showed a strong anti-Second-Amendment bias when she worked in the White House, advising President Clinton.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings this summer, NSSF looks forward to a full exploration of Kagan’s involvement in gun-control issues during the Clinton administration, the most anti-gun administration in history.

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April 20th, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Hunting Videos Are Protected by First Amendment

U.S. Supreme CourtThe United States Supreme Court today struck down a federal law banning depictions of “animal cruelty” on the basis that the law violated the Free Speech protections of the First Amendment. In its 8-1 ruling in United States v. Stevens, the High Court upheld a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision voiding the conviction of Robert Stevens for violating 18 U.S.C. 48, which prohibits depiction of animal cruelty.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion was authored by Chief Justice Roberts, who declared that that the law was overbroad, and could potentially be used to ban TV shows about hunting, as well as educational videos. At issue was a 1999 federal law that makes it a crime to create, sell or possess videos and other depictions of cruelty to animals. The case arose over the conviction of Robert Stevens, who received a three-year prison sentence from a Western Pennsylvania court for selling videos that included scenes of hunting with dogs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction on constitutional grounds, accepting Stevens’ argument that his videos were protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court upheld the Third Circuit’s decision. Had the Third Circuit’s decision been overturned, all images of legal hunting and fishing could have been deemed illegal under the law.

The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) took a lead role in bringing journalists and outdoor industry organizations together in support of the First Amendment argument presented before the Court by Robert Stevens’ attorney Patricia Millett. “POMA is grateful to the Court for this important decision,” said Laurie Lee Dovey, POMA executive director. “The First Amendment rights of traditional outdoor sports journalists, those who cover legal hunting and fishing and promote the enjoyment of these American heritage sports, are protected. The impact of this decision on POMA members, all journalists, and the outdoor industry can not be overstated.” The ruling in U.S. v. Stevens was a setback for animal rights groups and the Obama Adminstration’s lawyers, who asked the Supreme Court to overrule the Third Circuit and send Robert Stevens to prison.

CLICK HERE for full text of Decision in U.S. v. Stevens

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March 3rd, 2010

Transcript of Supreme Court Argument is Available

Those interested in the landmark McDonald v. Chicago Second Amendment case can now read the complete transcript of the Oral Arguments conducted yesterday before the U.S. Supreme Court. We added the link to the transcript late in the day on Tuesday, so you might have missed it. (FYI, the written opinion in this case is not expected until June, 2010).

CLICK HERE for transcript of Oral Argument
(PDF file, 77 pages, 342kb).

To learn more about the plaintiffs in this case, click the link below to read a profile in the Chicago Magazine website. The ‘name’ plaintiff is Otis McDonald, a 76-year old retired maintenance engineer (and grandfather). The son of sharecroppers, McDonald grew up in Louisiana, then moved to Chicago at age 17. Now he simply wants the right to have a handgun to defend himself in his home.

Otis McDonald

Chicago Magazine Story on McDonald v. Chicago Plaintiffs.

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March 2nd, 2010

After the Argument — Supreme Court Appears to Favor Extension of Second Amendment

SCOTUSLyle Denniston, reporter for the Scotus (Supreme Court of the United States) Blog, attended the oral argument in McDonald v. Chicago (Docket 08-1521) this morning. Analyzing the comments and questions of the Justices, Denniston concluded that the High Court is very likely to extend the Second Amendment to state and municipal actions, on the basis of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. However, the Justices were skeptical of the argument that “incorporation” of the Second Amendment was likewise mandated by the “privileges and immunities” section of the 14th Amendment.

CLICK HERE for transcript of Oral Argument
(PDF file, 77 pages, 342kb).

Denniston writes: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed poised to require state and local governments to obey the Second Amendment guarantee of a personal right to a gun, but with perhaps considerable authority to regulate that right. The dominant sentiment on the Court was to extend the Amendment beyond the federal level, based on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process,” since doing so through another part of the 14th Amendment would raise too many questions about what other rights might emerge.”

During the course of the oral argument, the Justices disagreed as to the scope of the Second Amendment — whether it should be limited to a “core right” of self-defense or whether it could be applied much more broadly in future cases. The Scotus Blog explained: “The liberal wing of the Court appeared to be making a determined effort to hold the expanded Amendment in check, but even the conservatives open to applying the Second Amendment to states, counties and cities seemed ready to concede some — but perhaps fewer — limitations. The eagerly awaited oral argument in McDonald, et al., v. Chicago, et al. found all members of the Court actively involved except the usually silent Justice Clarence Thomas. And, while no one said that the issue of “incorporating” the Second Amendment into the 14th Amendment had already been decided before the argument had even begun, the clear impression was that the Court majority was at least sentimentally in favor of that, with only the dimensions of the expansion to be worked out in this case and in a strong of likely precedents coming as time went on.”

We recommend that those interested in Second Amendment issues read the full Scotus Blog Entry, which includes detailed explanations of the key arguments, and analyses of how individual justices stand on the question of how the Second Amendment should be applied to the States — i.e. whether broadly or narrowly.

CLICK HERE to read SCOTUS BLOG re McDonald v. Chicago.

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March 2nd, 2010

High Court Hears "McDonald v. Chicago" Today

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a major Second Amendment case that will determine whether cities and states must honor the Constitutional Right to keep and bear arms, set forth in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It will be argued that the protections of the Second Amendment should extend to state and local government activity, based on the provisions of the 14th Amendment.

The key words from the 14th Amendment are “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . . ”

McDonald v. Chicago

You can consider McDonald v. City of Chicago as the sequel to the 2008 landmark case — the District of Columbia v. Heller — in which the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Second Amendment is an “individual” right to keep and bear arms. The Court’s decision, however, applied only to areas regulated by the federal government, such as the District of Columbia. As a result the Heller decision inspired further legal attempts to clarify how the right to keep and bear arms applies to citizens nationwide.

After Heller, many lawsuits were filed to overturn municipal and state laws that prevented individuals from owning handguns. In Chicago, several residents brought suit challenging the city’s long-standing gun ban. These residents, among them 76-year-old Otis McDonald, wanted a handgun to protect themselves and their families. McDonald, interviewed by ABC News, lives in a crime-ridden neighborhood and wants a gun to defend himself in his home: “If I’ve got a gun, and if others have guns in their homes to protect themselves, then that’s one thing that police would have to worry about less.”

How broadly or narrowly the Second Amendment will be applied to state regulations is the key question in today’s hearing in McDonald v Chicago. Today, one hour has been set for oral arguments. Attorney Alan Gura, who won the Heller case, will argue for the petitioners Otis McDonald, et al. Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement will argue for the NRA, which is also a party to the case. Chicago’s defense will take up the remainder of the time.

Final Decision is Months Away
Legal experts will attempt to predict how McDonald v. Chicago will be decided, based on the questions/comments of the Justices during oral argument. However, we will have to wait many months before the Supreme Court’s actual written ruling. In a case of this significance, we can expect a lengthy written opinion (with dissents), that may not be issued until summer 2010.

Report and Photo Courtesy NSSF

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February 11th, 2010

Supreme Court Case + Gun News on DownRange TV Podcast

Michael Bane, producer and host of the popular DownRange TV show on the Outdoor Channel, also creates a short video “podcast” each week. Michael’s weekly podcasts cover a variety of topics — product intros, major competitions, shooting tips, and gun industry news. This week (8 min, 30 sec into the video), Michael comments on the upcoming Supreme Court hearing in McDonald v. Chicago. That case will determine whether the landmark Second Amendment ruling in D.C. v. Heller shall be extended to state and local government actions. Bane also spotlights the FBI’s new 40sw AR15 carbines (from Rock River Arms) and the re-introduction of the classic Merwin-Hulbert revolver, now marketed as a compact CCW weapon. Notable Merwin-Hulbert design features included interchangeable barrels and auto-ejection of spent cartridges (when bbl assembly was unlocked).

YouTube Preview Image

Details of Merwin Hulbert Revolver Design (NRA YouTube Video)

Merwin Hulbert

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October 2nd, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Chicago Gun Case

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521), a case challenging gun control laws in the city of Chicago. When it rules on this case, the High Court can be expected to refine and expand its landmark ruling in DC v. Heller. In Heller, the Supreme Court ruled, for the first time ever, that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to “keep and bear arms”.

The key issue in McDonald v. Chicago is whether state, county, and city goverment actions can be challenged on the basis of the Second Amendment. The First Amendment and other provisions of the Bill of Rights have already been held to govern state and local laws, but this would be the first time the U.S. Supreme Court determines whether the Second Amendment applies to “state action” through the Due Process or Privileges and Immunities Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

U.S. Supreme Court

Legal analysts predict that the U.S. Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, will strike down (or modify) Chicago’s restrictive gun laws, holding that the Second Amendment applies to state and municipal laws under the Incorporation Doctine.

In the Newsweek.com Blog, Howard Fineman writes: “Now the court will take up the appeal of a case of a handgun ban in Chicago to clear things up [following DC v. Heller]. Expect another sweeping smackdown…. What that means in the case of guns is a full-scale legal assault on, and sweeping away of, many if not most existing regulations on their sale and possession of handguns, pistols, and rifles, at least initially. If the court decrees the use of the standard method of assessing limits on fundamental rights, it will require states and localities to show a ‘compelling state interest’ for the regulation they seek, and a narrowly, carefully-tailored statute to address it. It’s what the lawyers call ‘strict scrutiny’─and it will kill off laws by the score, at least at first.”

We think that Fineman exaggerates the potential effect of a pro-gun ruling in the McDonald v. Chicago case, but we certainly hope that a ‘strict scrutiny’ standard is established. That the High Court will impose ‘strict scrutiny’ is by no means certain, however.

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March 10th, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NYC Lawsuit vs. Gun-Makers

U.S. Supreme CourtPutting an end to nine years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear New York City’s request to continue a lawsuit that sought to hold firearms manufacturers responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms. Among the companies sued were Beretta USA Corp., Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., Colt’s Manufacturing Co. LLC, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Glock GmbH.

“We are very pleased by today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to not review lower appellate court rulings that dismissed cases based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” said Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “These baseless lawsuits against responsible, law-abiding companies are the type that Congress intended to prevent by passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.”

The city’s lawsuit was originally filed in 2000 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and was continued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed by Congress in 2005, a federal judge threw out the New York lawsuit. Then in April of 2008, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, saying the new law was constitutional. New York City’s final recourse was to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but on March 9th the High Court refused the case.

LINK to N.Y. Times Report on NYC Gun Litigation.

This report is provided by the NSSF.

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July 30th, 2008

Heller Files New Lawsuit vs. District of Columbia

It took years of litigation to do so, but Dick Heller and his team of lawyers prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing that the U.S. Constitution guarantees Heller’s right to have a handgun in his District of Columbia home for self-protection. Despite that landmark victory, the D.C. politicians charged with complying with the High Court’s ruling are still trying to impose strict requirements on handgun ownership. D.C.’s amended handgun laws limit the types of handguns allowed while imposing strict licensing requirements that are difficult to satisfy.

Heller v. District Columbia

As a result, Dick Heller, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned Washington’s 32-year-old handgun ban, has filed a new lawsuit against the District of Columbia. In a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Dick Heller and two other plaintiffs allege that DC’s new gun regulations still violate rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The lawsuit cites the District of Columbia’s ban on firearms that carry more than 12 rounds of ammunition, which includes most semi-automatic handguns. The suit also claims that the city’s regulations make it all but impossible for residents to keep a gun ready for immediate self-defense in the home.

Plainly, the District of Columbia is attempting to skirt the D.C. v. Heller decision. By imposing difficult licensing regulations, the District’s politicians hope to maintain a de facto ban on handguns in place of the previous absolute ban. We applaud Heller’s effort to haul the District back into Federal Court to ensure full compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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March 19th, 2008

Supreme Court Appears to Favor Individual Rights View of Second Amendment

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral auguments in the landmark D.C. v. Heller case. It appeared, based on the questions posed by the Justices, that the High Court may strike down the D.C.’s ban on handguns. But we’ll likely have to wait until May or June for a final decision.

Head Count: It looks Like 5:4 or 6:3
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Alito, and Justice Scalia all seemed to favor the view that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms. Roberts made his views clear right from the start, asking the District’s lawyer: “If [the Second Amendment] is limited to state militias, why would they say ‘the right of the people’?…In other words, why wouldn’t they say ‘state militias have the right to keep arms’?” Justice Thomas did not speak at the argument, but he can be expected to align with Roberts and Scalia. Justice Kennedy may be the swing vote needed to overturn the D.C. ban. Kennedy said the Second Amendment confers “a general right to bear arms quite without reference to the militia either way.” That leaves four justices who may vote the other way: Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens. Stevens might also vote with the majority for a 6-3 decision.

Most legal observers, including our correspondent, Robert Whitley, believe there will be at least 5 votes to overturn the D.C. ban. Whitley cautions however: “I think there will be a recognition of the individual right, and the D.C. ban will probably be invalidated, at least in its current form. But this isn’t the end of the controversy… there will be many more battles ahead. The court will likely try to decide the case narrowly, and many of the justices seem to favor some kind of ‘reasonableness’ test for gun laws that will only lead to more legal challenges in the months and years ahead.”

Richard Heller, the Man in the Middle
After the oral arguments, Robert Whitley interviewed Dick Heller, the plaintiff in the historic case. Robert observed: “Heller is a normal guy, like you and me. He’s a nice guy who simply felt the D.C. gun ban was wrong.” Heller lives in a small apartment in the heart of the District. One day, observing a bullet hole in the frame of his front door, he decided he wanted to keep a handgun to protect himself.

Heller works as a security guard in a Federal building. Heller told Whitley: “To me, the case is simple. I go to work, and I’m told to carry a gun to protect Federal employees. Yet when I go home, the District of Columbia says the value of my own life is not worth protecting. That’s just wrong.”

Jim Shepard, covering the case for The Outdoor Wire, recorded a remarkable exchange between Heller and reporters:

“… A reporter interjected: ‘the Mayor (DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty) says the handgun ban and his initiatives have significantly lowered violent crime in the District. How do you answer that, Mr. Heller?”

The initial answer certainly wasn’t expected – Dick Heller laughed. Ruefully.

Pointing at the Mayor who was making his way across the plaza, surrounded by at least six DC police officers, Heller said, ‘the Mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’

‘He doesn’t walk on the street like an average citizen. Look at him; he travels with an army of police officers as bodyguards – to keep him safe. But he says that I don’t have the right to be a force of one to protect myself. Does he look like he thinks the streets are safe?'”

When it comes right down to it, that’s what this case is really all about — an individual citizen’s basic, fundamental right to defend himself and his home. That’s a right the founders surely intended to guarantee in adopting the Second Amendment.

CLICK HERE for NBC News Video Report

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February 15th, 2008

Supreme Court Hears Second Amendment Case March 18

As you probably know by now, an important gun rights case, District of Columbia vs. Heller (docket 07-290), is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. As it directly involves the issue of individual rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, this case may impact ALL firearms owners. Legal experts note that this is the first time in 70 years that the High Court has been asked to interpret the basic meaning of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court will hear the case on March 18. (Oral Arguments are scheduled for 10 am). Amicus briefs have been submitted by notable parties, including many U.S. States, and Vice President Dick Cheney recently lent his signature (in his role as President of the U.S. Senate) to a brief filed by a Congressional Caucus.

If you want to learn more, American Rifleman Magazine has an excellent article that covers the “Top 10 Facts” about D.C. vs. Heller. Authored by NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, this is a “must-read” summary of the landmark case.

CLICK HERE to READ ARTICLE on SUPREME COURT CASE

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November 21st, 2007

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark Second Amendment Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the much-discussed District of Columbia v. Heller case (Docket 04-7041), previously known as Parker vs. District of Columbia. This means the High Court WILL review the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the D.C. statute banning residents from owning handguns. The Court of Appeals held that the District of Columbia’s anti-gun law violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In reaching its decision, the Appellate Court found, as a matter of law, that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to keep and bear arms. This was a “breakthrough” finding. Other Circuit Courts of Appeal have held that the Second Amendment merely confers a “collective right” to keep and bear arms. In practical terms, this means that the Second Amendment applies to an organized militia (i.e. the National Guard), but not to individuals.

The High Court’s decision to hear D.C. v. Heller is historically significant. This will represent the first time the Supreme Court rules directly on the meaning of the Second Amendment since the U.S. v. Miller case in 1939. The decision in Miller was poorly reasoned and left many basic issues unresolved, including the key question “Does the Second Amendment confer an individual or collective right?”

The “collective right” interpretation of the Second Amendment is disfavored among legal scholars, despite what anti-gun advocacy groups claim. Many of the nation’s most respected law professors, including Lawrence Tribe of Harvard Law School, Akhil Reed Amar of Yale, William Van Alstyne of Duke, and Sanford Levinson of the Univ. of Texas, have strongly argued that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep and bear arms.

BACKGROUND
The mayor of Washington, D.C., Adrian M. Fenty, filed the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for the High Court to rule. According to FBI statistics, Washington D.C., despite its gun ban, ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and maintains one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the country.

In March, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in striking down the District’s gun ban, held in Parker, et al., v. District of Columbia that “The phrase ‘the right of the people’ . . . leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual.” This was the second time in recent history that a Federal Circuit Court upheld the view that the Second Amendment was an individual right. In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in the case of U.S. v. Emerson that “All of the evidence indicates that the Second Amendment, like other parts of the
Bill of Rights, applies to and protects individual Americans.”

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