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Charlie T Waite

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  1. As part of a criminal justice “reform” effort, the state of Illinois is preparing to unleash the first statewide no-cash bail law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and the ramifications could be disastrous. The policy, or variations of it, have already been implemented in a number of areas, generally promoted by radical District Attorneys (DAs) who have decided that, rather than using a financial commitment (bail) from an accused individual to better ensure that person shows up for their day in court, an honor system is all that is needed. In simple terms, someone caught committing a crime, or arrested for committing a crime after an investigation, is brought before a judge, and if they plead “not guilty” to the crime (or crimes) for which they are charged, the judge sets a trial date. It is during this process that, usually, people can be released from jail while they wait for their trial date (pre-trial release), provided they give certain assurances they would actually show up for that date. DAs, historically, have asked for financial guarantees that the accused will come back to face trial. For some of the more serious crimes, or crimes for which the prosecution (DA) has what it feels is nearly irrefutable evidence of guilt, the prosecution either asks for a great deal of money (bail), or asks the defendant be held with no bail. Judges—again, historically—then look at everything presented thus far, and determine either an appropriate level of bail, or deny bail. But certain radical DAs believe that, for most crimes—including some very violent crimes—a mere promise to return for trial from the accused is all that is necessary. It’s almost as if these DAs have little interest in actually prosecuting people. Of course, the criminal justice system is far from perfect: Nobody questions that. Crime, obviously still exists, and everyone acknowledges that crimes frequently go unsolved, and criminals often go unpunished for their acts. But that has always been the case, and likely will be for some time. The elimination, or at least solving, of all crime is a laudable goal, but is currently achievable only in the world of science fiction and fantasy writers. While there are myriad proposals that have been offered to try to address the problem of crime, and especially violent crime, there are a few policies that have been proven to be effective. There are also a few policies that would seem to be obvious. We hate to use this term due to its ubiquitous misapplication when discussing gun control, but they are simply common sense. For example, when you catch someone who has been accused of committing a violent crime—especially someone with a history of doing so—you should try to hold on to that person. But a no-cash bail policy will eliminate this ability. It will also ensure that some of the more violent offenders are not just released back into society, but many will likely try to disappear into that same society, never to return to court to face their charges. But don’t just take our word for it. There is little, if anything, to suggest that no-cash bail has helped or will help anyone, other than those who have been arrested for committing crimes—often serious, violent felonies. In fact, there are indications that the policy has led to dramatic increases in crime where implemented. We’ve been covering the dramatic rise in violent crime in America for some time. And while it is a national trend, the trend seems to be most prevalent in some of the cities with which we are all so familiar. Cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis seem to be constantly in the news because of violent crime, and are well known for trying to blame law-abiding gun owners for this problem, rather than violent criminals. What all these cities also have in common is a radical DA that supports, or has implemented, no-cash bail. All of these DAs were elected to their position, and all were supported by anti-gun billionaire George Soros, who has been promoting no-cash bail policies for many years. They all also seem rabidly opposed to the Second Amendment and self-defense. Why Illinois would want to export the failure of Chicago’s no-cash bail to the rest of the state is beyond understanding. The Windy City has seen an explosion of violent crime—especially violent crime where firearms are used by the perpetrators—over the last two years. The problem has been so bad that calls to 911 are taking sometimes hours for a response, if they aren’t just deleted from the system due to the long wait. A recent news report highlighted the absurd notion of following Chicago’s lead with anything related to criminal justice, especially when it comes to trusting criminals that have been released from custody. A Cook County (where Chicago is located) teen was recently arrested in DeKalb County, Ill., and when apprehended, he was using a home-monitoring ankle bracelet as a makeshift holster for an illegally possessed (presumably) handgun. The teen “was also wanted in connection with an August 23 shooting in DeKalb.” But anecdotal evidence isn’t the only reason to reject the idea of no-cash bail. We recently reported on Yolo County, Cal., where no-cash bail proved to be an abject failure. After tracking those released under the no-cash bail policy from April 2020 to May 2021, the Yolo County DA reported, “Of the 595 individuals released, 420 were rearrested (70.6%) and 123 (20% of the overall number or 29% of those rearrested) were arrested for a crime of violence.” Those numbers are shockingly high, but also remember that they are just the numbers for released individuals who were actually caught reoffending. It is not unrealistic to presume that even more of the individuals who had been released on no-cash bail in Yolo County went on to commit additional crimes, but were not caught doing so. As we pointed out earlier this year, a study of violent crime in Washington, DC, revealed a related problem with no-cash bail policies: Law enforcement actually has a pretty good idea who is committing the most violent crimes in their city, especially crimes where offenders use a firearm. The study focused on mapping the real-life social networks and criminal justice histories of those involved in violence perpetrated with firearms. The report concluded, “In Washington, DC, most gun violence is tightly concentrated,” and that those involved, “share a common set of risk factors, including: involvement in street crews/groups; significant criminal justice history including prior or active community supervision; often prior victimization; and a connection to a recent shooting (within the past 12 months).” Again, there are policies that have shown success in reducing violent crime. Focusing law enforcement resources on known offenders is one, and if such an effort were made in our nation’s capital, as the study indicates, violent crime would likely diminish there. But the city has a history of soft-on-crime policies, which continue today, and are shared by other cities, like Chicago. Sadly, the state of Illinois has turned a blind eye to the documented experience with no-cash bail in Yolo County, is ignoring the research done in Washington, DC, and seems unconcerned with potentially exporting the carnage in Chicago to the rest of the state. There is absolutely no justification for implementing no-cash bail, either at the city level or the state. Prosecutorial discretion already exists, so if a DA feels that bail is not necessary for a particular individual, the DA can simply ask that no bail be required. The Illinois law now forces DAs throughout the state to adopt the no-cash bail policy the Chicago DA prefers. And although there are options for a DA to request bail for the most serious of offenses, the burden to prove it necessary is relatively high. A soft-on crime DA, like Chicago’s Kim Foxx, is unlikely to bother to try to meet that burden, and other DAs, while possibly willing to try, have no guarantees they will be successful. Our hope is that this criminal justice “reform” experiment will not lead to tragedy in the Land of Lincoln. But based on what Chicago has experienced under a DA that is a proponent of the policy, the future looks fairly grim.
  2. As we’ve previously reported, on September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. MCCs enable payment processors and banks to categorize, monitor, and collect data on various types of transactions. Before the ISO decision, firearm retailers fell under the MCC for sporting goods stores or miscellaneous retail. This week, more elected officials around the country have pushed back on the use of financial transaction information to surveil or discriminate against gun owners. First, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, along with Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and a coalition of 22 other states sent a letter to the CEOs of Visa, Mastercard and American Express. The letter made clear that financial information shouldn’t be used to discriminate against gun owners: More importantly, purposefully tracking this information can only result in its misuse, either unintentional or deliberate. Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions are considering using that information to take further, harmful action—like infringing upon consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted “disfavored” merchants. The attorneys general made clear that they would not stand by while the rights of their constituents are violated: Be advised that we will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights. Please keep that in mind as you consider whether to proceed with adopting and implementing this Merchant Category Code. Then, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a similar warning: If we come to the legislative session and companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express are generating these reports to create a chilling effect against the purchase of firearms, then I’ll work with the Legislature to pass a law penalizing businesses who are targeting the right to bear arms. We’ve seen a groundbreaking ruling come out of the Fifth Circuit limiting corporations’ ability to curtail American’s constitutional rights, so we are on solid legal footing to pursue a bill protecting Floridians 2nd Amendment Rights. We can also take it a step further by barring these companies from doing any business with the State of Florida. We will send a message out to these large corporations that if you are interested in doing business with Florida, you need to make sure that you’re protecting Floridians right to arm and defend themselves. Finally, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) led a letter of Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee to the Bank Policy Institute (BPI). The senators made clear that the creation of the new MCC was just the first step in a plan to pressure the firearm industry and gun owners: The creation of the new MCC was celebrated widely by liberal Democrats and gun-control advocates. They have made it clear this is just the beginning of their campaign to block legal purchases of firearms. Next, large retailers that do not fall under the new MCC will be pressured to adopt the MCC at specific registers within their stores or use unique codes for firearm purchases. Credit card companies will be pushed to develop algorithms that label legal gun purchases as suspicious activity based on such codes. Eventually, liberal activists and financial regulators will press banks to block these perfectly legal transactions. The letter made clear that it is not the job of unelected banking executives to engage in public policy decisions: Let us be clear: banks should not misuse their power to hinder the ability of law-abiding Americans to exercise a constitutional right by creating de-facto bans on legal firearm purchases. Addressing complex and contentious social and policy issues that involve balancing competing values is the job of democratically-elected leaders, not unelected bank executives. We urge BPI’s members to resist the political pressure to insert themselves into such issues, especially firearms. Instead, our nation’s largest financial institutions should focus on serving the needs of their customers without bias. Despite this pushback, there isn’t yet any sign that payment processors have departed from their plan to implement the new MCC. Please check back to www.nraila.org as more developments on this important matter become available.
  3. Speaking about her new gun control legislation, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul claimed that “we took swift and thoughtful action to keep New Yorkers safe…. we will continue leading the way forward and implementing common sense gun safety legislation,” adding “our smart, sensible gun laws will go into effect as planned … on September 1.” We’ve written before about how recent gun control measures are being implemented in the Empire State. By now, it is evident that the “smart, sensible” and “common sense” law has given rise to a host of unforeseen consequences that inhibit licensed gun owners and responsible citizens engaged in legitimate activities rather than the violent criminals and illegal guns causing the crisis in public safety. One such casualty of Hochul’s “thoughtful” legislation was the Chautauqua County American Legion’s annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony, traditionally conducted at the county courthouse. Because the law prohibits the possession of a firearm at a “sensitive location” (a long list that includes any place owned or under the control of a federal, state or local government, like courthouses), this year the Honor Guard’s 21-gun salute had to be moved to offsite private property, a local gas station across the street. The commander of the American Legion Post points out the additional repercussions: “[n]ot only does this law affect ceremonies such as the 9/11 ceremony, but [it] also will prevent Memorial Day ceremonies, and most importantly, military honors at the graveside of our veterans.” Historical reenactment events in public parks and other “sensitive locations” are on hold now, too. News reports indicate that Fort Klock Historic Restoration has cancelled its event in St. Johnsville, NY in early October because of the new gun ban. The group is a nonprofit “educational institution chartered by the New York State Education Department Board of Regents,” with the primary goal of preserving and accurately interpreting the history of a unique national landmark that dates back to the Revolutionary War. Although Governor Hochul’s office has allegedly advised that historical reenactments are not affected by the new law and “there should be no concern” in proceeding, an attorney consulted by the newspaper warns that the statute nonetheless applies to antique firearms brought into a sensitive location. With respect to the governor’s assurance, he responds that “[n]o lawyer would recommend an individual to follow the word of any leader or individual when the law is very clear that this is illegal.” Another murky area is whether gun shows held in publicly-owned spaces like fairgrounds and convention centers are permitted under the law. The largest gun show in the state was held in the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse this month, and one organizer indicated that the new law was “confusing and hard to interpret.” The Governor’s office was (again) asked to clarify whether the location fell within the “sensitive locations” category, and in a non-answer answer responded that: “The new gun safety law allows gun shows to occur, and organizations hosting these events should work with property owners and vendors to ensure they can legally and safely proceed.” What is undisputable under the law is that owners and lessees of private property that falls within the definition of a “sensitive location” have no choice at all about guns being banned on their own premises. In New York City, police have contacted licensed gun owners to remind them that possession or carrying a firearm in any place the legislation designates as a “sensitive location” is forbidden – even as “major crime skyrockets …in NYC.” The police letter states, “If your business is in a sensitive location, … you are no longer able to lawfully possess a firearm at that location,” and directs owners to turn in their gun at “your local precinct in order for it to be safeguarded for you.” Those who are reluctant to entrust their firearms to the police are advised to make arrangements with a federal firearms licensee for storage, or remove the gun to a location where possession and storage are not prohibited. Noncompliance with this premises ban, like the failure to ensure that an event or activity may legally proceed under the “smart” and “thoughtful” location restrictions, invites prosecution and conviction for criminal possession of a gun, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Intended or not, these consequences are all part of a politically motivated agenda that views firearms as unacceptable and Second Amendment rights as unnecessary, in the same way that patriotic observances are considered to be faintly ridiculous, if not worse. Commenting on the cancelled historical reenactments, no less than the editorial board of the New York Daily News sneered that while “the geniuses up in Albany should look carefully at the law and clarify any ambiguity,” “the pretending-to-be-wounded reenactors should stop complaining and realize that no one in black helicopters or jackboots is coming to shut down their quaint little costume dramas.” One New York State politician is unsurprised by these developments, observing that Hochul’s law was enacted in a “middle of the night” rush, “without public comment and without the chance for lawmakers to fully understand the implications of the law,” and absent evidence that legal gun owners play any part in New York’s violent crimes. Now, just days after the law took effect, state legislators are backtracking to patch up problems in the “smart, sensible” and “thoughtful” law (here and here, for instance), with a looming cloud of litigation already on the horizon.
  4. Last week, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas ruled that a law which prohibits the acquisition of firearms by someone who is under felony indictment violates the Second Amendment. The decision to invalidate a major provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 underscores the gravity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which prescribed a standard of review that lower courts must apply when resolving Second Amendment cases. The case from the Western District of Texas is United States v. Quiroz. The federal law at the center of Quiroz is codified at 18 U.S.C. 922(n). It states: It shall be unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. An indictment occurs when prosecutors present evidence to a grand jury that there is probable cause a person has committed a crime, and the jury agrees. This decision can then be used as the basis for the government to prosecute the person for the offense. Grand jury proceedings are not the same thing as a criminal trial. They are merely meant to establish that the government has completed the necessary investigative work to legitimately arrest someone and haul that person before a criminal court. An indicted person, in the American legal system, still enjoys the presumption of innocence. As the Quiroz decision explained, moreover, grand jury proceedings are entirely one-sided – with the jury hearing only from the prosecution – and the accused does not enjoy the same due process protections that apply during a criminal trial. For example, grand jury members may consider evidence against the accused that would be illegal for the prosecution to use in the criminal trial itself. The “freewheeling” and uncontested nature of the proceedings, as the court observed, led one judge to famously opine that “a Grand Jury would indict a ham sandwich.” The court noted that the federal law in question had survived previous constitutional challenges, but those decisions all occurred before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bruen, which clarified the process courts must use in resolving Second Amendment challenges. First, the court must determine if “the Second Amendment’s plain text covers [the] individual’s conduct” the government hopes to restrict. If it does, “The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” If the government fails to carry this burden, then the challenged law cannot stand. In the Quiroz case the court found that “receipt” of a firearm was clearly covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text, as the very definition of “receive” is to “to take into . . . one’s possession,” and “possess” is synonymous with “keep.” The court then held that the government could not point to a similar law that was common at the time of the Second or Fourteenth Amendment’s adoption, and none of the historical precedents the government offered to justify the regulation were sufficiently similar to it. But then the court went further, conducting a lengthy historical analysis of its own to determine if relevant precedents might yet support the law. Ultimately, it determined that they did not. The court acknowledged that public safety concerns might validly argue in favor of prohibiting the receipt of arms by someone formally charged with a serious crime but observed there may be other mechanisms under the law to deal with that, apart from 922(n)’s blanket prohibition. For example, once a person is actually arrested post-indictment, a court will hold a hearing to determine if the person should be held in custody pending trial or released, and if the latter, if conditions should apply to the release. At this stage of the proceedings, however, the accused can meaningfully participate and advocate for his or her own position. Thus, the constitutional calculus might be different for a court-ordered restriction on weapons receipt that occurs after a detention hearing than for a sweeping prohibition that applies after all felony indictments. According to news reports, the Biden administration has already appealed the court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It may therefore take many years of additional litigation to determine if the ban on receipt of firearms for those under indictment for crimes punishable by more than a year in prison will ultimately stand. In the meantime, the court’s decision is a Quiroz is a hopeful sign for pro-gun advocates that even federal gun control dating to the mid-20th Century will require a high standard of justification to survive Second Amendment scrutiny under Bruen.
  5. Newsletter formatted as PDF below attached The Trace - Weekly Briefing.pdf I hope to do a better job of adapting it next time. Charlie
  6. It is not uncommon to see inclusions of "extras" within a bill and this is a case that seems to demonstrate the ploy. No less than ten 'gun control' provisions sit buried inside the FY 2023 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill - many decidedly draconian. The devil is in the details. Two items provide the opportunity to get up to speed and see all that is involved - first the 13 minute video above, outlining and discussing the facts and second, an article by Aidan Johnston from GOA - "'Gun Control' Hidden Inside Funding Bill", which looks at further details. Being aware of this subterfuge is half the battle and presents the opportunity to tell Congress not to let the Continuing Resolution expire during a lame duck session and before the next House majority takes hold
  7. ROCKFORD, IL (September 22, 2022) – Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) today announced the filing of a new FPC-supported federal lawsuit challenging Illinois’ ban on the carrying of firearms on public transportation and in public transportation facilities. The complaint in Schoenthal v. Raoul can be viewed at FPCLegal.org. “The unifying feature of the historically accepted sensitive places where individuals were deprived of the right to bear arms was security,” argues the complaint. “In compensation for an individual’s lessened right to protect himself, the government provided security measures to ensure the physical protection of anyone in a legislative assembly or courthouse. In a modern context, this would mean measures such as requiring individuals to pass though magnetometers when entering the location in question. The Public Transportation Carry Ban is not accompanied by security measures of this type.” “The underlying question here is clear: Do individuals have the right to defend themselves from unjust violence while on a bus?” said FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack. “And the answer is self-evident: Anywhere individuals may be met with confrontation and unjust violence, they have the right to effectively defend themselves. The very concept of banning self-defense in those areas where people congregate is absurd on its face.”
  8. WILMINGTON, DE (September 23, 2022) – Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced that United States District Judge Maryellen Noreika issued an order enjoining Delaware’s bans on self-manufacturing and possession of home-built firearms in its Rigby v. Jennings lawsuit. The opinion and order can be viewed at FPCLaw.org. “These statutes burden constitutionally protected conduct because possession of firearms and firearm frames and receivers is within the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to ‘keep and bear Arms’ and Defendant has not shown that these firearms and components are not commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” wrote Judge Noreika in her opinion. “Further, Defendant has offered no evidence that these statutes are consistent with the nation’s history of firearm regulation.” The Court went on to hold that “the right to keep and bear arms implies a corresponding right to manufacture arms. Indeed, the right to keep and bear arms would be meaningless if no individual or entity could manufacture a firearm. Thus, if possessing untraceable firearms is protected by the Second Amendment, then so too is manufacturing them.” The Court’s Order states in pertinent part that: “Defendant [Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings], her officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with her, and all persons who have notice of the injunction are preliminarily enjoined from enforcing 11 Del. C. § 1459A(b); 11 Del. C. § 1463(a); 11 Del. C. § 1463(c)(1) and from enforcing 11 Del. C. 1463(b) to the extent that the Court has found it likely unconstitutional (i.e. the statute’s provisions that bar the manufacturing and assembly of untraceable firearms, but not the prohibitions against distributing untraceable firearms).” The Order issued today further denied the State’s motion to dismiss in its entirety. “The self-manufacture of arms is deeply rooted in American history,” said FPC Law’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee. “It has been a celebrated tradition since the earliest colonial days, it helped save America’s war for Independence, it was essential to western expansion, and it has led to many of the most innovative technological breakthroughs in our nation’s history. We are pleased that the court recognized this essential element of the right to keep and bear arms and will continue to fiercely advocate for its protection.” “Yet another Court has recognized the expansive natural and individual right that is protected by the Second Amendment–in this case, the individual right to manufacture one’s own self-defense tools,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC’s Senior Attorney for Constitutional Litigation. “FPC has notched another post-Bruen win, not only demonstrating how important the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision is, but further demonstrating that FPC has the most effective and expansive program dedicated to fighting for individual’s Second Amendment protected rights in courtrooms across the nation.” “Limiting the means by which peaceable people acquire arms is about one thing: the unconstitutional and immoral monopolization of power,” said FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack. “The state is not entitled to cut off access to self-manufacturing of arms under the Second Amendment, period.” This decision marks the first-ever federal Second Amendment decision upholding the fundamental right to self-manufacture arms. FPC will continue to aggressively litigate to protect and restore the right to self-manufacture arms in this and cases throughout the United States, including VanDerStock v. ATF, Renna v. Bonta, Palmer v. Sisolak, Fahr v. San Diego, and others.
  9. The United Parcel Service (UPS) has followed up its decision to enforce the new Biden administration rule on gun parts a month before it took effect with a new, restrictive firearms shipping policy that could prove troublesome to gunmakers and gun owners. The new UPS Tariff/Terms and Conditions of Service indicates that only licensed dealers, importers, manufacturers, and collectors will be able to ship firearms products or parts via UPS. “Packages containing firearms (as defined by Title 18, Chapter 44, and Title 26, Chapter 53 of the United States Code) and firearms parts that do not constitute firearms as defined by federal law (together, “Firearms Products”) are accepted for transportation only as a contractual service and only from Shippers who are licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, or licensed collectors (as defined in Title 18, Chapter 44 of the United States Code),” the terms read. According to letters sent to some manufacturers by UPS, one requirement for shipping with UPS is that gunmakers sign a written UPS Firearms Agreement for shipping firearms and firearm parts. The UPS Handguns Exception Agreement, which is required for shipping handguns and is only good for one year, spells out some strict requirements that, if not met, could end in quick termination by UPS. One stipulation of the handgun agreement, which was shared with us by a manufacturer who wished to remain anonymous, stated: “Customer agrees to ship an average of fifty (50) or more handguns shipments per day via UPS. In the event this volume commitment is not maintained during the Term of this Agreement, UPS shall have the right to terminate this Agreement on ten (10) days’ notice.” Of course, this could have a negative impact on small manufacturers who typically don’t ship that many guns. Also, high-end, custom gunmakers, who also deal in much smaller numbers, could be negatively impacted by it. Per UPS’s new Agreement For Transporting Firearms Or Firearms Parts, the company can unilaterally decide if they don’t want to continue in a contract with a manufacturer, whether or not the manufacturer has done anything wrong or agrees with that decision. “UPS may suspend or terminate delivery services for Shipper, or terminate this Agreement immediately and cease providing service, if UPS determines in its sole and unlimited discretion that such action is prudent or necessary,” the agreement reads. Despite the fact that all requirements are spelled out in the agreement, the company also reserves the right to change the rules of the game at any time without input from manufacturers. “UPS may modify or amend any requirements for Firearm Products Shipments at any time,” the agreement states. “By tendering Firearm Products Shipments to UPS for shipment, Shipper agrees to be bound by UPS’s requirements in effect at the time of shipping.” The latest changes, along with the earlier decision on shipping gun parts, are likely a result of a strongly worded letter sent on May 19 to UPS, Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service, and trucking and rail carriers by five anti-gun U.S. senators blaming shipping companies for playing a part in the country’s criminal violence problem. The letter, signed by Democrat Sens. Edward Markey (Mass.), Corey Booker (N.J.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), stated, “We are concerned that lax shipping security measures are contributing to the epidemic of gun violence in this country by allowing criminals to use stolen firearms to commit crimes.” Click here to read more newly updated rules for shipping firearms via UPS.
  10. This week, we saw another major post-Bruen ruling in federal court. It found the ban on those facing felony indictments violates the Second Amendment. But it went even further than that. I take a look at how it calls the prohibition on convicted felons owning guns into question and then provides a potential answer for why it may survive the Bruen test. Texas produced two significant polls this week. One showed Governor Greg Abbott (R.) increasing his lead over Beto O'Rourke (D.) as the latter continues to focus on gun control. The other showed Texans aren't interested in the AR-15 ban O'Rourke has pushed. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman also dives into what the National Firearms Survey tells us about gun carry in America. More Republicans pressured the major credit card companies to reverse their decision to implement a Merchant Category Code for gun stores at the behest of gun-control advocates as well. Plus, NSSF's Larry Keane joins the podcast to give the gun industry's response to the new credit card code controversy. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Federal Judge Strikes Down Gun Ban for Felony Indictments By Jake Fogleman Those charged with a felony by a grand jury may not be deprived of their Second Amendment rights before conviction, a federal judge has ruled. Judge David Counts of the District of Western Texas ruled Monday that a provision in the Federal Firearms Act barring those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm is not in line with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. He also dismissed an indictment against Jose Gomez Quiroz, a Texas man charged under the ban. “Although not exhaustive, the Court’s historical survey finds little evidence that § 922(n)—which prohibits those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm—aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition,” Judge Counts, an Obama appointee who was reappointed and confirmed under Trump, wrote in his opinion. “As a result, this Court holds that § 922(n) is unconstitutional.” Click here to read more. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Analysis: Will the Federal Felony Gun Ban Survive Bruen? [Member Exclusive] By Stephen Gutowski A federal judge’s ruling opens up new questions on the constitutionality of felony gun bans and tries to answer them. District Judge David Counts of Western Texas found the Federal Firearms Act’s prohibition on people indicted under felony charges from receiving firearms is unconstitutional. He applied, perhaps reluctantly, the new standard handed down by the Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. He found the indictment-based ban couldn’t survive that text-and-tradition-based test. “Although not exhaustive, the Court’s historical survey finds little evidence that § 922(n)—which prohibits those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm—aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition,” Judge Counts wrote in his opinion. “As a result, this Court holds that § 922(n) is unconstitutional.” As significant as that finding is, the judge went further. He also cast doubt on the constitutionality of federal felon gun bans overall. If you're a member, click here to read the rest. If not, join today to get exclusive access to hundreds of pieces you won't find anywhere else! file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Poll: Majority of Texans Reject ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban By Stephen Gutowski “Hell no.” That’s what Texans appear to be saying about the idea of banning AR-15s and AK-47s, according to a new poll. 50 percent of likely voters told Spectrum News and Siena College they oppose efforts to ban “assault-style” weapons, a term the poll did not define but is generally understood to include the rifles. In contrast, 46 percent said they support a ban. An equal number “strongly” opposed and supported the policy. Beto O’Rourke (D.) has based much of his campaign against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott (R.) on the need for further gun restrictions in Texas. He is best known for his viral commitment to seize the guns Texans told the pollsters they don’t want to see banned. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said during a September 2019 presidential primary debate. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.” Click here to read more. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Beto Sticks With Gun-Control Message as Abbott Increases Lead in Texas By Stephen Gutowski Democrat’s pick for governor of Texas is sticking with a strategy of emphasizing gun restrictions even as he fails to pick up ground against the incumbent. Beto O’Rourke (D.) has kept up his attacks on Governor Greg Abbott’s (R.) refusal to support stricter gun laws in a series of social media ads posted over the past week, including a pinned tweet critiquing his support for permitless gun carry. That’s despite the focus on guns providing little apparent benefit in polls of the race. Abbott’s lead has only increased in the last month, with a new survey from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler putting him up 11 points among likely voters–just one point off from his largest lead of the cycle. Abbott’s lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls has moved from 6.8 percent in August to 7.7 percent today. That fluctuation has not caused O’Rourke to abandon his messaging on guns, though. “It has now been 17 weeks since those 19 children and their two teachers were taken from us in Uvalde,” O’Rourke said Tuesday in an ad featuring a survivor of the Uvalde attack. “Greg Abbott has yet to lift a finger to keep our kids safe.” Click here to continue reading. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Republicans Turn Up Heat on Credit Card Companies Over New Gun Store Code By Jake Fogleman The red state backlash to major credit card companies deciding to insert themselves in the American gun debate is starting to pick up. Two dozen Republican attorneys general sent to a letter to Visa, Mastercard, and American Express on Tuesday warning executives against following through with a plan to adopt a new merchant code to categorize firearm sales. The letter, led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, told the companies the move would unfairly target gun owners and raises consumer privacy risks. “As Attorneys General, we have the privilege of protecting our citizens from corporate coordination that hurts consumers,” the letter reads. “We are also charged with ensuring that consumer data is not unlawfully gathered or used. That is why we have serious concerns about the implementation of this Merchant Category Code.” Click here to read the full piece. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Podcast: NSSF’s Larry Keane on the Industry Reaction to New Credit Card Codes for Gun Stores By Stephen Gutowski The gun industry is facing a new fight over financing for firearms. So, we have Larry Keane on to tell us how the industry is handling the change. He is the Senior Vice President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents gun makers and dealers. They are the literal gun lobby. Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman explains Dick Heller’s latest win over DC’s gun restrictions. You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. It is also available on our YouTube channel. As always, the show goes public on Monday, and Reload Members get access the day before. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Analysis: Latest Survey Shows the State of American Gun Carry [Member Exclusive] By Jake Fogleman The largest-ever scientific survey of gun owners has documented the overwhelming popularity of gun carry amongst modern gun owners. Georgetown University Professor William English’s National Firearms Survey offers one of the most comprehensive insights into a multitude of key questions surrounding guns in America. It provides a useful update to the scientific literature on defensive gun uses in America, finding that they occur about 1.6 million times per year. It also documented the popularity of AR-15s and similar rifles, as well as magazines with a capacity greater than ten rounds. These items are hotly contested in the public debate, and robust data on their ownership could play a key role in ongoing political and legal battles over their future availability. But at a time when the Supreme Court has just recognized a constitutional right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense, perhaps no aspect of gun ownership is more front and center in the public debate than gun carry. Highly populated states that were affected by the Court’s ruling, such as New York and California, have since scrambled to pass new laws cracking down on the practicality of gun carry. Meanwhile, laws passed earlier this year made it so half the states in the Union now officially allow public carry without the need for a permit. As the vicissitudes of politics continue to change how governments view gun carry, it’s worth taking a look at how gun owners view the practice. It turns out that carrying a firearm is quite popular, at least on certain occasions. A majority of gun owners, 56.2 percent, said there are certain circumstances in which they carry a handgun for self-defense. That works out to around 45.8 million adults saying they carry, a number equal to about the combined population of the states of California and Colorado. If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the whole thing. If not, join today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds more! file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Outside The Reload For First Time in at Least 25 Years, No Democrat Has Top Grade From N.R.A. | The New York Times | By Maggie Astor Georgia Democrats plan gun control push in Legislature in the next session | The Center Square | By T.A. DeFeo Judge denies sheriff’s bid to gut corruption trial using Supreme Court gun ruling | The Mercury News | By Robert Salonga California is nation’s first state to create anti-gun-violence office | The Washington Post | By Andrew Jeong Bass grilled in LA mayors debate over gun storage and theft of her firearms | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards D.C. responds to lawsuit challenging metro gun ban | DCist | By Martin Austermuhle
  11. This week, we got more insight into the new Merchant Category Code (MCC) change that's coming to gun retailers nationwide. While Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have agreed to adopt the new code, they seem less enthused about the plan to use that code to track and flag "suspicious" gun sales. Visa said it doesn't have access to details on what people are buying at gun stores and doesn't want access to that. The company said it wouldn't use the code to prevent anyone from buying legal goods from gun dealers. However, as I report below, the companies wouldn't answer any direct questions. Visa, in particular, wouldn't say why they decided to adopt the new MCC code if they don't want to use it for the purpose advocates had it created for in the first place. I also do a member-exclusive deep dive into exactly what the MCC change means for gun buyers, and what it doesn't. I have a second member-exclusive piece for you guys too. This one lays out all of the insights the largest-ever survey of defensive gun uses has to offer. New York's gun-carry restrictions are back under legal scrutiny, Heller scores another win in DC, and Philadelphia gets one of its own on a new local gun law. Plus, Georgetown Professor William English joins the podcast to discuss all the details of his expansive survey of American gun owners. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Credit Card Companies Won’t Respond to Questions on New Gun Store Code as Republicans Demand Answers By Stephen Gutowski The major credit card issuers are staying relatively quiet about their decision to adopt a specialized code for gun retailers. Mastercard and American Express did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their decision-making process. Visa pointed The Reload to a recent blog post on the company’s website but did not answer any questions. The financial companies’ tight lips come as Republicans press for answers about how they plan to use the new data. “Of course, there is no accepted, consistent, scientific, or legitimate way to determine from this data what is and what is not a ‘suspicious’ purchase,” 100 Republican congressmen said in a letter to Visa. “A gun control advocate could view any desire to own or obtain a firearm as per se suspicious.” Click here to read more. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Analysis: What the New Credit Card Code for Gun Stores Means for Gun Buyers [Member Exclusive] By Stephen Gutowski The group that oversees credit card merchant codes agreed to create one for gun stores on Friday. As first reported by Reuters, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created a specific code for gun stores. As is the case for most specialty stores, purchases made at gun stores will now be categorized in bank records. Visa, Master Card, and American Express announced they would start using the new code on Saturday, according to the Associate Press. That doesn’t sound so controversial on the surface. After all, almost every industry has a merchant code. And it may end up not being very controversial if things don’t progress past this first step. However, this is just the first step for the people behind this change. And it’s one that gun-control advocates have been pursuing for years. It’s part of a broader–if half-baked–attempt to surveil and scrutinize gun sales. If you’re already a member, click here to read the rest. If not, consider joining today for exclusive access! file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png DC Repeals Gun-Carry Ammo Limit, Hands Heller Another Legal Win By Jake Fogleman For the second time in less than a year, the District of Columbia is amending its gun laws in the face of a legal challenge from Dick Heller. The Chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on Wednesday adopted an emergency repeal of the city’s ban on carrying more than twice the number of rounds of ammunition a licensed individual’s gun can hold. He did so to head off a looming decision on a possible injunction under the new Bruen standard for reviewing gun cases, brought by Heller. “On review of these developments, this regulation, its enforcement history, and in consideration of other regulations that govern concealed-carry licensees, the Chief has determined that emergency rulemaking action is prudent and necessary for the immediate preservation of the welfare of District residents and to enable the District to avoid accruing liability for attorney fees in legal challenges,” the city wrote in a legal filing notifying the court of the change. Heller told The Reload he was unsurprised at the result of his challenge to the District’s ammunition limit. Click here to read the full piece. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Analysis: How 50 Million Defensive Gun Uses Played Out According to a Massive Survey [Member Exclusive] By Stephen Gutowski The largest-ever scientific survey of gun owners found Americans used a gun in self-defense at least 1.67 million times per year. But the poll did a lot more than just count defensive uses; it also detailed how, when, and where they happened. The National Firearms Survey, conducted by Georgetown University Professor William English, presented a ton of information on key questions surrounding guns in America. It found gun ownership is diversifying and gun carry is broadly popular. It found about a third of gun owners have owned an AR-15 or similar rifle and 50 percent have owned magazines holding more than ten rounds--key information for the legal battles over whether they can be banned. And, of course, it also found a large number of American gun owners report using their guns to protect themselves. 31.1 percent of gun owners said they'd used a gun in self-defense. That equates to about 25.3 million Americans, according to English. If you're a Reload Member, click here to read the whole thing. If not, join today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds more! file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Podcast: Georgetown Professor on His Groundbreaking Survey of Gun Owners By Stephen Gutowski We took a look at the largest-ever survey of gun owners this week. I covered the topline results, and Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman wrote an analysis for members on what the survey showed about AR-15s in American society. We plan to write quite a bit more on the study because of how much high-quality data is in it. That brings us to this week’s podcast. Georgetown Professor William English, who conducted the survey, joins us to discuss the details. Plus, Jake and I talk about Smith & Wesson’s sales falling off a cliff last quarter and what it means for the company moving forward. You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. The full episode is also available on our YouTube channel. As always, the show is available for Reload Members on Sunday and everybody else on Monday. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Gun-Rights Groups Take Aim at New York’s Latest Carry Restrictions By Jake Fogleman Advocates are betting the Empire State’s new “sensitive places” restrictions will be sensitive to a legal challenge. The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed suit against New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen in federal court on Tuesday. The groups allege that enforcement of New York’s new carry restrictions amounts to “a de facto ban” on the right to bear arms in violation of recent Supreme Court precedent striking down the state’s previous carry law. “S51001 replaced one unconstitutional licensing scheme with another, and worse, implemented expansive new criminal laws that ban carry of firearms in so-called ‘sensitive locations’ and presumptively on most property in the state—even for those who lawfully acquire and possess a license under the state’s onerous new licensing scheme,” the groups’ complaint reads. Click here to continue reading. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Philly Court Upholds City's Gun Building Ban By Stephen Gutowski Philadelphia’s total ban on private gun making will go into place. That’s the result of a local judge’s decision not to issue a permanent injunction against it despite requests from a gun-rights group. Court of Common Please Judge Joshua H. Roberts said on Monday neither state law prohibiting local gun regulations, nor the Pennsylvania state constitution explicitly blocked the city’s move to ban unlicensed gun building. “[T]he Court concludes that because the [state’s Uniform Firearms Act (UFA)] does not completely preempt the field of firearm regulation; and the local regulation does not seek to regulate an activity specified in the UFA, the Plaintiffs’ right to relief is not clear,” Judge Roberts wrote. The case is part of two ongoing fights. The first is over efforts by gun-control advocates to restrict home gun building. The second is over whether localities should have the ability to pass gun restrictions that are more severe than those passed at the state level. Philadelphia has been at the forefront of both battles, and Monday’s decision represents a rare win on both fronts for the city which has faced its fair share of court losses over its efforts to impose its own gun-control laws. However, that win could be short-lived. Click here to read more. file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Packages/microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png Outside The Reload Ohio teachers can now carry firearms in schools | Washington Examiner | By Heather Hamilton A new credit card code is a first step toward preventing gun violence, advocates say | NPR | By Becky Sullivan Gun activist asks appeals court to block bump stock ban | Reuters | By Brendan Pierson LA County to Consider Possible Local Rules to Control Gun Sales | Pasadena Now | City News Service Delaware gun group expands assault weapon ban challenge | Bearing Arms | By Tom Knighton
  12. Dear Michael, No one does more to serve freedom’s cause than those in the U.S. military. But too often, these brave volunteers don’t receive the recognition they deserve. That’s why – to acknowledge their tremendous sacrifice in defense of freedom – NRA is now providing free-of-charge NRA memberships to our nation’s active-duty service personnel. If you have a loved one or friend now serving on active duty who might like to receive a free membership, with full benefits, please invite them to visit our special website at NRA.org/ActiveDuty and sign up. Please understand, we have a limited number of these memberships available and this site may shut down from time to time until we replenish the funds needed for this effort. Thank you for helping bring more of America’s most outstanding patriots into our NRA membership family. We’re grateful every day for their service, and we’re grateful for your help in reaching our nation’s active-duty service personnel with this offer. Sincerely, Wayne LaPierre Executive Vice President
  13. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has adopted a new merchant category code that is specific to sales at gun stores. The new code will change the classification of credit card purchases of guns and ammunition from the more general “sporting goods” category. The move was praised by gun control groups and some politicians. Priscilla Sims Brown, the President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, which advocated for the change, said, “The new code will allow us to fully comply with our duty to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales.” "Perhaps the most concerning consequence of this new coding scheme is the fact that all of this information about individuals' gun purchases will be easily accessible to the government, thanks to the so-called 'third-party doctrine,'" said Amy Peikoff, Parler's Head of Policy and Legal. That legal doctrine provides that any information shared with a "third party," such as a credit card company, no longer enjoys the protection of the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have all indicated they will comply with the new rules.
  14. On September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO“) announced that it would create a new Merchant Category Code (“MCC”) specific to firearm and ammunition retailers. MCCs are the codes that payment processing networks (like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) use to categorize various transactions. This is the system that allows various credit cards to offer different benefits for certain categories of purchases or to charge different fees for those same categories. In June, Amalgamated Bank petitioned the ISO to create a new firearm specific MCC. This was the second such petition after the ISO denied an identical petition last year. The petition was supported by, among others, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), New York Mayor Eric Adams, and the anti-gun groups Giffords and Guns Down America. The petition, at least initially, seemed to lack the support of Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. If fully implemented by the various payment processors, the hope of gun control groups for this new MCC is that it would create a registry of gun owners that they have long sought and provide them with another tool to attack lawful industry when firearms are used in crime. Several provisions in federal law, but most notably a key part of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, prohibit the federal government from centralizing most firearm records into a registry. The new MCC could provide a way for the government to outsource the creation of a registry that the government itself is prohibited from creating. If banks and payment processors share their records with the government, that would be a major step towards the registration of all gun owners in America. The new MCC could also give anti-gun groups a new tool to use in their lawfare campaign against lawful businesses. The groups claim that they expect banks and payment processors to “flag” so-called “suspicious” transactions with the new MCC. Notably, no standards are given for what would be considered “suspicious.” And, since the proponents of the new MCC consider the desire of any American to exercise their Second Amendment rights suspicious, it’s unlikely whatever standard is developed will be done so in good faith. Anti-gun groups will almost certainly use the new flagging system to create liability for any banks or payment processors who do business with the firearm industry. When a firearm is used in a high-profile crime, these groups will now also sue any bank or payment processor that facilitated any transfer of the firearm and claim that these financial institutions didn’t do enough to stop the gun from falling into the wrong hands. The inevitable goal of such a campaign is to convince banks and payment processors to stop dealing with the firearm industry entirely by claiming that it is “too risky” of an industry to be involved with. In this case, that “risk” is being manufactured by the creation of the new MCC. Fortunately, the ISO codes are not mandatory for payment processors to adopt. Pro-gun representatives and senators are already working to ask the major payment processors if and how they intend to implement the new code. NRA-ILA is also working on several ways to prevent or reduce implementation of the new MCC. Please check back to www.nraila.org for more updates on this matter.
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