Firearm Related News Stories
Federal Judge Refuses California's Mission To Dismiss In Assult Weapons Lawsuit - September 23, 2020
Southern District of California Federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez has issued an order denying the State of California's partial motion to dismiss in the case of Miller, et al. v. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., an FPC-led federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s “assault weapons” ban on common semi-automatic firearms. The Court's order is available online at AssaultWeaponLawsuit.com.
The order, filed today, states that, regarding the issue of standing, the "Court finds Plaintiffs have standing on all claims in large part flowing from the criminal penalties they could face." Explaining that California's Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 "imposes a felony criminal penalty for anyone who manufactures, distributes, imports, keeps for sale, offers for sale, or lends an 'assault weapon'," with "prescribed prison sentences [of] four, six, or eight years," the Court's order said that the "result is that any law-abiding citizen may lose his liberty, and (not ironically) his Second Amendment rights, as a result of exercising his constitutional right to keep and bear arms if the arm falls within the complicated legal definition of an 'assault weapon.'" It went on, "If ever the existence of a state statute had a chilling effect on the exercise of a constitutional right, this is it."
Federal Court To Rehear Bump Stock Case En Banc - September 10, 2020
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit gave bump stocks new life last week when they ruled to vacate a previous decision that upheld a ban on the devices.
A 2-1 panel of the same court had previously upheld the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' (ATF) decision to classify bump stocks as "machine guns." But now, after a majority of non-recused active judges voted in favor, the Denver-based court has agreed to rehear the case en banc before the full 12-judge panel.
The petition to rehear the case was filed by Utah gun rights advocate W. Clark Aposhian, backed by the nonprofit New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA). The NCLA called the previous decision from the Tenth Circuit "troubling" and argued that Chevron deference does not give a federal agency a blank check to interpret federal law however they see fit. Chevron deference is a legal concept that allows a court to defer to an agency's interpretation of an ambiguous statute.
"The full Tenth Circuit has recognized the troubling consequences of the panel's prior decision," said Caleb Kruckenberg, Litigation Counsel, NCLA. "Chevron deference cannot guarantee a win for an agency even when the parties agree it doesn't apply, because it contradicts the constitutional rule that criminal laws should be construed against the government. We look forward to the Court setting a major precedent limiting Chevron's unconstitutional reach."
New Jersey Gun Control Measure Upheld By Federal Court - September 1, 2020
New Jersey's ban on large-capacity gun magazines has survived another legal challenge.
A three judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by gun-rights activists who said the state's 10-round magazine cap ran afoul of the Second, Fifth, and 14th amendments.
The 3-1 ruling is a victory for New Jersey, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, despite an increasingly conservative federal court system that gun control advocates feared would roll back restrictions. The lone dissent on the decision was from a judge appointed by President Donald Trump.
The 2018 law had previously passed muster with another three judge panel of the Circuit Court as well as the District Court for New Jersey.
The state defended the law, which exempted active military and police officers as well as retired police officers, by arguing that it could safe lives by forcing a mass shooter to pause to reload.
The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs sued the state immediately after the law was passed. Federal judges concluded that the law does not violate the Second Amendment because it does not prohibit possession of firearms or "effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves." Judges also noted that the law does not limit the number of magazines that a person can own.
The judges also said that the law does not violate the Fifth Amendment's takings clause because the law allowed owners of the large-capacity magazines to modify them, transfer them to a person who could legally own them, surrender them to police or register a magazine that could not be modified.
Federal Judge Upholds Ban On Carrying Guns In Public - August 31, 2020
A U.S. judge on Monday upheld California's near-total ban on carrying guns in public even as protests in other states have seen counter-demonstrators armed with weapons.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller denied a review of a 2017 federal appeals court decision that upheld the law, which bans carrying concealed weapons in most urban areas and permits open-carry of weapons only if someone believes that a person is in immediate danger and law enforcement has failed to respond, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
However, Mueller also said gun owners can proceed with a lawsuit against California over the ban while awaiting a court hearing next month involving another open-carry ban in Hawaii.
An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled on Sept. 24 to consider a challenge to the law, which effectively only permits police and security guards to openly carry firearms. Any ruling is at least several months away but it would be binding in nine states, including California.
Amy Bellantoni, a lawyer for the gun owners, said they may ask the appeals court to halt enforcement of the California law while their case is pending, the Chronicle reported.
California Microstamping Bill Passes Senate Heads To Governor - August 31, 2020
On Friday, the California Senate passed a bill that would require newer model handguns sold in California to be microstamped, moving the bill to the Governor’s desk to await his signature.
Assembly Bill 2847, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would require microstamping in at least one place in the interior of any new handgun starting on July 1, 2022 in addition to current 2 microstamping markings needed on interior parts of firearms. This would mark the first time that microstamping, which imprints tiny markings on cartridges that had been fired from the weapon in question for quicker police identification, would be expanded on in California since AB 1471 came into law in 2013.
In addition to the new microstamping measure, the number of types of gun-law compliant handguns in California would be reduced as AB 2847 would introduce a system of removing three handguns from the current handgun roster that are non-compliant with current laws for each handgun added.
9th Circuit Court: "Large Capacity Magazines" Are Protected By 2nd Amendment - August 14, 2020
Today, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed (by a 2-1 vote) a federal district court's ruling that so-called "large capacity" magazines are protected by the Second Amendment.
First, the panel held that Cal. Penal Code § 32310 struck at the core right of law-abiding citizens to self-defend by banning LCM possession within the home. Second, the panel held that Section 32310's near-categorical ban of LCMs substantially burdened core Second Amendment rights. Third, the panel held that decisions in other circuits were distinguishable. Fourth, the panel held that this circuit's decision in Fyock v. City of Sunnyvale, 779 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 2015), did not obligate the panel to apply intermediate scrutiny.
The panel held that Cal. Penal Code § 32310 did not survive strict scrutiny review. First, the panel held that the state interests advanced here were compelling: preventing and mitigating gun violence. Second, the panel held that Section 32310 was not narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling state interests it purported to serve because the state’s chosen method - a statewide blanket ban on possession everywhere and for nearly everyone - was not the least restrictive means of achieving the compelling interests.
The panel held that even if intermediate scrutiny were to apply, Cal. Penal Code § 32310 would still fail. The panel held that while the interests expressed by the state qualified as "important," the means chosen to advance those interests were not substantially related to their service.
Chief District Judge Lynn dissented, and would reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment. Judge Lynn wrote that the majority opinion conflicted with this Circuit's precedent in Fyock, and with decisions in all the six sister Circuits that addressed the Second Amendment issue presented here. Judge Lynn would hold that intermediate scrutiny applies, and Cal. Penal Code § 32310 satisfies that standard.
NH Governor Vetoes Red Flag Bill - August 7, 2020
As expected, Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday vetoed a bill establishing extreme protective orders intended to reduce suicides and mass killings.
House Bill 687, commonly known as the 'red flag' bill, would have established a civil procedure to remove firearms and ammunition from someone who is at risk of harming him or herself or others. The bill would have established extreme risk protection orders through a civil process initiated by a person's family, housemates or law enforcement.
The legislation is similar to laws in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Opponents say the bill would trample on the constitutional rights of individuals on hearsay evidence without due process, particularly gun rights.
In his veto message, Sununu said he has signed legislation to bring awareness to suicide prevention and has worked to improve the state's mental health system but cannot approve a bill that would strip residents of their constitutional rights.
"Unfortunately, the process laid out in House Bill 687 goes too far and would weaken the constitutional rights of law-abiding New Hampshire citizens," Sununu said. The bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, said the bill is needed now more than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic with more people in mental health crisis and the significant increase in gun sales.
Pennyslvania Gun Safety Coalition Advocates For Permit To Purchase Firearms - July 31, 2020
A new gun safety coalition said Friday that requiring residents to obtain buyer's permits before going through with a sale would reduce firearm related violence in Pennsylvania, though it's a policy that will likely face a lukewarm reception, at best, in the conservative General Assembly.
"We've all been conditioned to believe that there's noting that works and thats there's nothing we can do to reduce gun violence," said Jennifer Clark, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center. "Our coalition is based on the idea that we can do something."
The Public Interest Law Center is one of eight steering members of the new PA Safety Alliance, a coalition of advocacy groups that prioritize reforms in public health, criminal justice and social welfare. More than a dozen other organizations, from teachers unions to district attorneys to physicians groups, have signed on as endorsing members.
"Polling shows that voters do support gun regulation," Clark said. "This is not about taking away guns. This is about implementing sensible gun policy."
The alliance prioritizes legislation that would require residents to apply for a permit before buying a gun. Clark said research connects licensing laws with decreases in firearm related homicides and suicides, with rates in Connecticut declining 40 percent and 15 percent, respectively, after lawmakers enacted a similar policy.
Virginia Judge Upholds Most Of New Gun Laws, Strikes Down Under 21 Ban - July 14, 2020
A Lynchburg judge mostly upheld a new state law that went into effect at the beginning of the month expanding background checks for purchasing firearms, but ruled that restrictions on those under 21 from purchasing handguns was unconstitutional.
Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge Patrick Yeatts agreed with much of the commonwealth's arguments that the law, which expands background checks to all gun sales, did not violate the Virginia Constitution. He granted an injunction Tuesday on part of the law, which he said was currently unconstitutional, that narrowed the sale of handguns for people between the ages of 18 to 20.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, other gun rights groups, and Lynchburg area gun owners argued in the lawsuit that the proposal would restrict the ability of those ages 18 to 20 from purchasing handguns in Virginia because all private sales will have to be run through a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Federal law says that individuals must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer. So if someone under 21 were to obtain a background check through the FBI's system, that person would be rejected.
Prior to the new law, those between 18 to 20 could buy a handgun through a private sale from another Virginia resident, but not from a dealer.
One of the lawsuit's plaintiffs, Wyatt Lowman, is legally an adult but under 21.
Yeatts wrote in his ruling that the commonwealth acknowledged the law would prevent those under 21 from purchasing handguns, but it "deflects by saying the problem lies with federal law." The attorney general said in court it was working with the FBI to correct the issue.
Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Magazines That Hold More Than 15 Rounds - June 29, 2020
he Colorado Supreme Court on Monday upheld the state's 7 year old ban on gun magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line gun rights organization based in Colorado, challenged the large-capacity magazine law, arguing that it violates the state constitution.
Specifically, the organization contended that the law goes against a clause that gives people the right to be armed to defend their homes, property and themselves.
The Colorado Supreme Court, however, disagreed in a 45-page decision.
Justice Monica M. Márquez, in writing the court's opinion, said the ban is "a reasonable exercise of the police power that has neither the purpose nor effect of nullifying the right to bear arms in self-defense."
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, whose office defended the law, praised the decision.
"The large-capacity magazine law will decrease the deadly impacts of mass shootings by reducing the number of people who will be shot during a mass shooting incident, and it will save lives," the Democrat said in a written statement. "It also honors Coloradans' right to bear arms for personal defense. Today's ruling is a win for public safety and for the rule of law.
The law was passed a year after the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, which left 12 people dead and dozens more wounded. The gunman in that attack used a 100-round magazine.
10 Anti Gun Laws Go Into Effect July 1 - June 27, 2020
After months of contentious arguments on the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol, on city council daises and in campaign speeches, a slate of new state gun control laws is set to take effect Wednesday.
The topic of gun control dominated the General Assembly's most recent legislative session, with Democrats; newly in the majority in both chambers and armed with the support of fellow Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam; pushing through a slew of bills they said were necessary to stop violence caused by guns.
Democrat led legislation had the backing of groups such as Moms Demand Action and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Republicans in the minority, meanwhile, loudly voiced their opposition alongside the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group that grew by several thousand members over the course of a few months after Democrats ran a pro-gun-control campaign in November and won.
The central argument from elected Republicans and the VCDL was that bills limiting what someone could do with their gun, or how many they can buy, were unconstitutional. They also said bills aiming to put more control over guns wouldn't stop incidents like the Virginia Beach mass shooting, where a former employee killed 12 people at a city municipal center in May 2019.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL, has already filed suit attempting to block two of the bills, with other lawsuits in the works, he told The Virginian-Pilot.
Virginia Judge Wont Enjoin One Gun A Month Law - June 25, 2020
Finding a new Virginia law limiting the purchase of handguns to one a month does not violate the Constitution, a rural judge on Thursday denied an injunction that would block it from taking effect. It’s one of two challenges to a wave of new gun laws passed by the state’s newly elected Democrat majority earlier this year.
"The government has a substantial interest in limiting gun trafficking," said Goochland County Judge Timothy Sanner from the bench, just under a week before the law goes live. Sanner pointed to the state's history as a depot for guns used in crime as among the reasons for his decision.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring praised the outcome from the steps of the courthouse. "These laws are legal, constitutional and they're important," he said. "We have seen too much gun violence in communities across the state and the problem of gun trafficking is real."
Lawsuit Filed In Virginia To Stop Universal Background Check / One Gun A Month Laws - June 24, 2020
A lawsuit was filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court late Tuesday afternoon, June 23 challenging Virginia's new expanded background checks.
Five new gun laws are expected to take effect on July 1, 2020.
Those include the bills requiring background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia; bills establishing an Extreme Risk Protective Order; bills reinstating Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule; bill requiring gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty; and a bill preventing children from accessing firearms by increasing the penalty for recklessly leaving firearms in their presence.
Rhode Island Governor Signs 'Ghost Gun' Bill - June 23, 2020
Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed a bill banning so-called 'ghost guns' in Rhode Island.
The bill makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is made from plastic, fiberglass or through a 3D-printing process.
"We know that untraceable guns put our community at risk," Raimondo said. "I'm proud to sign this legislation to help ensure that every gun in our state is registered, traceable, and in the hands of someone who is fit to carry the responsibility of owning a firearm."
Gun Groups File Lawsuit To Stop Virginia One Gun A Month Law - June 15, 2020
Gun-rights activists have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the implementation of a Virginia law limiting handgun purchases to one per month.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America filed the challenge last week in Goochland County Circuit Court.
Valerie Trojan, a Goochland resident and member of the two pro-gun groups who says she wants to buy multiple handguns a month from a local gun store after the law takes effect July 1, is also named as a plaintiff in the case, as is the gun shop, Brothers N Arms.
The one handgun a month law was part of the package of major firearm bills Virginia Democrats passed earlier this year after taking full control of the General Assembly for the first time in decades after making gun violence a top campaign issue. Republicans denounced many of the proposals as unconstitutional and predicted they would be challenged in court.
Virginia had a one-handgun-a-month law on the books from 1993 to 2012, when former Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill repealing it.
Supreme Court Declines To Hear Gune Cases - June 15, 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a series of new cases seeking to expand gun rights.
The court rejected a total of 10 different cases that had piled up at the court in recent months. Two justices, conservatives Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, said they would have heard one of the cases, a dispute from New Jersey over that state’s concealed carry gun permits.
In the New Jersey case, the justices left in place a lower court ruling that threw out a lawsuit challenging the state's law mandating that people who want to carry handguns in public must show they have a special reason before they can get a permit.
Other cases the court declined to take up included challenges to assault weapon bans in Massachusetts and Cook County, Illinois, a jurisdiction that includes Chicago. The court also turned down cases similar to the New Jersey dispute from Massachusetts and Maryland.
Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Assault Weapon Ban Ballot Question - June 4, 2020
The Florida Supreme Court is blocking an assault weapons ban from going to voters in 2022, saying in a Thursday ruling that the ballot summary is deceptive because it doesn't clearly state that a grandfathering clause applies to the owner, not the gun itself.
A group called Ban Assault Weapons Now sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment, inspired by the mass shooting at a Parkland high school that left 17 people dead. It would have banned the possession of any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.
The amendment language would have made an exception for anyone who already lawfully owned an assault weapon as long as they registered it with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
But the court in a 4-1 opinion said the ballot summary was misleading because it said weapons lawfully possessed before the initiative was passed would be exempted.
The court ruled that voters would be deceived because the initiative wouldn't have protected the weapon itself, but rather the person who lawfully owned it. In other words, people who legally owned a weapon wouldn't be able to sell it or give it to someone else.
Pennyslvania Gun Rights Rally Postponed Amid Security Threats - June 3, 2020
A gun rights rally scheduled to take place in Harrisburg on Monday has been indefinitely postponed after a credible threat was made, one of the organizers said Thursday.
"We couldn't take that risk," said Kim Stolfer, president of Firearms Owners Against Crime, a Pennsylvania based group that opposes new gun restrictions.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe announced that the event was postponed in an email sent at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Metcalfe said the decision to postpone the event was based "on new information we received earlier today" and was made in "the best interest of the rally's attendees, speakers and our men and women in blue who protect and serve."
Stolfer provided additional details, saying he received an email Wednesday morning from someone he didn’t know who said he was aware of a threat being shared online.
"Individuals were going to portray themselves as Second Amendment activists," Stolfer said, describing the threat. "They were going to mix with the crowd and then they were going to start killing people. And the effort was to denigrate and cause a loss of prestige among legislators by misuse of firearms and to destroy our reputation."
Tennessee Constitutional Carry Bill Gets House Committee Approval - May 27, 2020
A bill that would allow Tennesseans to carry guns without a permit passed its first hurdle in the state capitol, after the Memphis police director told lawmakers it would be detrimental to the city's safety
Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings went to Nashville to express his concern to lawmakers, but it didn't work.
"With masks and guns, it will appear to be the wild, wild West," Rallings said.
The bill would allow Tennesseans 21 and older, or a military member between 18 and 20, to go armed without a permit. It sparked hours of discussion Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee, where it ultimately passed.
Maryland Governor Vetoes Universal Background Check Bill - May 8, 2020
In a sweep of anticipated vetoes, Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday, May 7, axed a controversial bill that sought to ban the sharing and secondary private sale of hunting rifles and shotguns.
After drawing heated debate among legislators and citizens this legislative session, House bill 4 passed through both chambers of Maryland's General Assembly in a vote split along party lines in early March.
If the bill had been signed into law, it would have become illegal for a gun owner to sell, rent, gift or loan their rifle or shotgun to someone else without the potential new owner undergoing a background check and paying a licenser to facilitate the firearm transfer.
Under the vetoed law, an illegal long gun transfer would have carried a penalty of up to a five-year jail sentence and/or $10,000 in fines.
As lawmakers awaited Hogan's legislative action on hundreds of bills passed this session, pro-and anti-gun rights legislators wrote letters to the governor urging him to act in their favor on HB4.
Against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic, lawmakers on either side of the argument pointed to the extreme circumstances to make their case for firearms restrictions.