This Week in Gun Rights is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal, legislative and other news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights.
Michigan to decide if students may bear arms on public college campuses
After nearly three and a half years, the Michigan Supreme Court will finally hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision to uphold a ban on the possession of firearms on University of Michigan’s campus. Unfortunately, the conditions for hearing the case are off to a bad start.
Per the order issued by the state supreme court, the party appealing the lower court’s decision must address “whether intermediate or strict judicial scrutiny applies in this case” and whether the University of Michigan’s anti-gun policy “reflects historical or traditional firearm restrictions within a university setting.”
What makes this case particularly interesting from a legal perspective is the obvious misinterpretation of SCOTUS precedent and clearly desired outcome implied by the court’s order. By asking if the university’s policy reflects the history and tradition of firearms restrictions solely within the context of a university setting, the court is attempting to reframe the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. In that case the High Court laid out the appropriate standard of review for determining whether gun laws are constitutional — whether text, history, and tradition exist and support the law in question.
The problem with the Michigan Supreme Court’s position is that the “text, history, and tradition” standard requires an examination of history and tradition preceding the nation’s founding. It has nothing to do with regulating carry on college campuses. There is no history or tradition of banning carry on campuses in colonial America, so the rule, like all restrictions on firearms possession on school properties across the nation, is blatantly unconstitutional and should be struck down.
North Carolina county refuses to process gun permit applications . . . again.
From behind the skirts of Harnett County Health Director Josh Rouse, Sheriff Wayne Coats announced earlier this week that his office would be suspending fingerprinting services, an essential component of firearms permit applications, for two weeks, or at least until November 23. The local CBS station provided the county’s infection rate, totaling about 2.4% of its population, apparently to provide some context justifying the sheriff’s decision.
Nobody is arguing that infection concerns are illegitimate, but there’s no reason to suspend access to a service required to gain permission to exercise a constitutional right. If the county is so concerned about the spread of COVID, it should take reasonable steps to mitigate the probability of exposure.
Sheriff Coats said that his office would continue to provide other services from the door of his office. Perhaps it’s time to install a service window for walkup services. If some Plexiglass panes, gloves, and masks are good enough for fast food and other retail workers — people who face a constant risk of viral infection — I’m sure it would be fine for sheriff’s office staffers as well.
The obligation of the sheriff is to enforce the laws, and the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land – it’s time for Harnett County to remember that and get back to work.
Delawareans brace for more gun control proposals
Following this year’s election, Delawareans may suffer further setbacks to their gun rights. Democrats, led by recently reelected Governor John Carney, have been leading a push for more anti-gun legislation over the last several years.
In 2018 they passed bills copying existing federal statutes and a red flag law, and in 2019 they advanced bills banning assault weapons, banning high capacity magazines, and criminalizing “unsafe” firearms storage. After this election, Democrats hold a supermajority in the state senate and a near-supermajority in the state general assembly.
The bills proposed in 2019 were met with a high degree of resistance. Anti-gun legislators were met by opposition from union members and protesters outnumbered supporters roughly 3 to 1. One of the most significant changes was the replacement of the senate president pro tempore, Marie Pinkney, who ousted the previous holder of that seat says that one of her top priorities for the next session will be gun control.
Despite the lack of popular support for anti-gun bills, many now fear that the legislative majority will disregard the desires of their constituents and advance the same bills that failed in 2019, and then some. Delaware may be the second-smallest state in the union, but we’ll definitely be following their legislature this next session.
Miss USA opposes gun bans, or something
Generally speaking, I think it’s best to listen to people who are well-versed in public policy. You know, consult the experts before pulling the trigger (so to speak) on anything. After all, you wouldn’t want to sign off on a surgery before speaking to a doctor about it. The same rule applies to people like Asya Branch, the current Miss USA. During the pageant, Asya was asked about gun laws. This was her response:
“I think it’s important that we not ban guns because, obviously, people will find a way to get what they want anyway,” Branch, who represented Mississippi, said onstage as she stood among the final five contestants on Monday night. “But I think it’s our Second Amendment right, and I think we just need more safety surrounding that.”
Not exactly the pro-human rights response I was looking for. Good thing I wasn’t one of the judges. But it gets worse. According to Miss Asya, “AK-47s and other guns along those lines should be left to our military,” and “[t]here’s no reason for civilians to have those types of weapons.”
Biden and ATF conspiring already, are you surprised?
And so it begins. Joe Biden is already talking to Regina Lombardo, the Acting Director of the ATF to decide how to move forward with more extra-legislative administrative gun control the moment he enters the Oval Office in January. According to an anonymous source, Biden’s transition team contacted the executive staff – Lombardo and her Associate Deputy Directors, Marvin Richardson and Curtis Gilbert – to determine the organization’s top anti-gun priorities.
Lombardo, Richardson, and Gilbert have been champing at the bit to take action on banning pistol braces but have lacked the political capital to do so over the last several years. The other two items in their sights are pistol braces and 80% lower receivers.
If you’ve been following the ATF’s abuse of the administrative process for a while, I’m sure that you’re well aware that they intend to do the same kind of thing that they did at the beginning of President Trump’s administration — abuse executive power to redefine these items as subject to ATF regulation, items which were never considered (and didn’t exist) when the legislature passed the and redefine things which were clearly never intended to be included under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
As it stands, even if anti-gun politicians are unable to secure a majority in the Senate, we have to remain ever vigilant. There will always be someone poised to use their power to subvert the legislature and turn an innumerable number of gun owners into felons simply for possessing materials that can’t shoot bullets and braces intended to make the operation of firearms easier.