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BELLEVUE, WA – Attorneys representing the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, two Washington state gun retailers and three private citizens have filed an appeal brief with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in their challenge of gun control Initiative 1639, a measure adopted two years ago in the Evergreen State.
The 45-page brief asserts I-1639 “infringes the rights protected by the Second Amendment and enjoyed by law-abiding adults of all ages. The interstate sales ban violates the Interstate Commerce Clause.” A district court judge in Tacoma dismissed the case in August, and plaintiffs promptly filed notice of appeal with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco.
The initiative prohibits young adults ages 18-20 from purchasing and owning so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles,” which it defined as literally any self-loading rifle, regardless of caliber. Tens of millions of semiautomatic rifles are in use today by law-abiding citizens of all ages for a variety of endeavors including hunting, competition, predator and varmint control, recreational shooting and personal/home protection.
“We’re asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a ruling by the lower federal district court, and remand this case back for further action,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens should never be subject to a popular vote, and we are hopeful the appeals court agrees.”
Plaintiffs are represented by Seattle attorney Joel B. Ard and Spokane attorney David K. DeWolf. The case is known as Mitchell v. Atkins.
Certain justices, most often the chief justice, sometimes cross over to vote within the liberal bloc in decisions that are wrongly decided.
Things have certainly changed since John Jay was confirmed to be the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 26, 1789 — just two days after the Senate received his nomination.
And John Paul Stevens was confirmed 19 days after his nomination in 1975.
Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed within 42 days in a lopsided vote of 96 to 3 on August 3, 1993.
The nasty, no-holds-barred political fights we have experienced with recent Supreme Court nominations is a relatively new occurrence, one that started with the failed nomination of Judge Robert Bork in 1987.
The main reason for this has been the very anti-democratic view of the left that the courts are the way to get around their inability to implement their economic, social, and cultural policies through the legislative process. This makes these seats very important to their political goals.
Liberal justices have led this intrusion of the court into the legislative process. Those justices have pushed the court to go beyond applying existing law and the Constitution.
They have chosen to act, with considerable success, as a super-legislative body that rewrites, changes, or even ignores the text when necessary to achieve particular policy goals that fit the ideological beliefs of those justices.
That includes creating “rights” that don’t exist in the Constitution, or simply ignoring rights the justices don’t want to enforce, like the Second Amendment.
For most of the liberal justices on the court, the Bill of Rights jumps directly from the First Amendment to the Third Amendment, with nothing in between.
Because the court has had an almost even ideological split for decades, this has made any empty seat the subject of a fierce political battle, as we have witnessed in the firestorm ignited by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.
Although Republican appointees on the court — the generally more conservative justices — hold a five-member majority, this majority has been ephemeral at times as justices have voted with the liberals on important cases. Funny how it rarely seems to go the other way.
For a long time, the so-called swing vote was usually Justice Anthony Kennedy — nominated by Ronald Reagan — who left the court in 2018.
Unfortunately, since Kennedy’s retirement Chief Justice John Roberts seems to have adopted his habit of often joining the liberal bloc on cases involving politically and socially controversial issues.
Other justices also occasionally step into that role, like Justice Neil Gorsuch (joined by the chief justice) in Bostock v. Clayton County, where he rewrote Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the definition of sex.
Roberts was the swing vote in 2012 when he joined the four liberal justices to uphold the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, in NFIB v. Sibelius, where he rewrote federal law to turn a “penalty” into a “tax” to uphold the constitutionality of the federal healthcare mandate under the taxing power of Congress.
If there had been one additional conservative on the court willing to apply the actual text of the law, thus joining the dissenters — Justice Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy — their dissents would have become the majority opinion, throwing out Obamacare as far beyond the power of Congress under the Constitution.
The very same conduct occurred last year when Roberts joined the liberal bloc in preventing the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Roberts joined the liberal bloc again this year to prevent the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an unlawful administrative amnesty implemented by the Obama administration without congressional approval.
If there had been another conservative textualist on the court to vote with the dissenters in both of these decisions, we would have a citizenship question on the census form and the DACA program would be over, even with Roberts joining Justice Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
That would have been the right result — not because it is the best public policy outcome, but because that would have been the correct result under the applicable law.
The seat left open by the passing of Ginsburg is so important because certain justices, most often the chief justice, sometimes cross over to vote within the liberal bloc in decisions that are wrongly decided from a legal point of view, not necessarily a policy point of view.
The court’s role is not to determine if a law passed by Congress is a good or bad law. Its job is to determine whether the law was within the power of Congress to pass.
As Scalia once said, “It is entirely possible for a law to be really, really stupid and yet be constitutional.”
The city of Philadelphia is like a lot of other large American cities. They’re cities that are seemingly plagued with violent crime and are reaching out for some kind of solution. Unfortunately, the only thing they can think of as a solution is gun control.
Obviously, that’s an issue everywhere. However, it seems that Philadelphia has a bigger issue.
You see, the city of Brotherly Love of Trying To Control Your Rights can’t seem to control the guns they actually own.
Philly, we’ve got a problem.
The city that’s got a mayor waging a gun control campaign against law-abiding gun owners can’t account for more than 200 of their own guns. Philadelphia’s Sheriff’s Office was blamed in a report for failing to account for 210 taxpayer-funded service firearms and firearms that were seized. They went missing between 1977-2015, but only came to light in 2019 when a confidential complaint tipped off authorities that “15 long guns” were missing.
That began an investigation that showed the city’s missing guns issue was 173 percent bigger than what was first believed. The people tasked with enforcing laws, including court security and prisoner transfers, couldn’t follow their own regulations and keep track of their guns.
Philadelphia’s gun control cabal, including Democrat Mayor Jim Kenney, is sure to miss the irony here. For clarity’s sake, this is the situation detailed clearly. The same people who want to use law enforcement to curb the gun rights of law-abiding citizens and track and confiscate guns can’t even keep track and control of the ones for which they’re responsible. Officials are saying there’s nothing to see here, move along. It was a problem with the old regime.
A year-long investigation by the City Controller’s office blames “physical disorganization,” and “poor record keeping” by the sheriff’s office. That might have been obvious when investigators saw firearms in piles on the floor and haphazardly stored. Firearms belonging to the sheriff’s office and those that were seized were comingled and some were still loaded when stored.
There are a large number of guns that the city simply doesn’t know where the hell they came from. They don’t know if the city bought them, took them from some criminal, or what. They’re simply in limbo.
And these are people who think they should be able to tell the citizens of that city what to do with their own firearms.
Honestly, it’s downright baffling that anyone would trust such incompetence with the power to restrict anyone else’s rights. Of course, as noted above, the city is trying to blame the old regime. The problem with that is that it’s clear no one knows what’s going on. With 200 government-owned firearms missing, a number of guns they simply don’t know where they came from, and no way to resolve the issue, it’s clear that the problems are systemic and ongoing.
And yet, these are also the only people some think should be trusted with firearms in the first place. Please excuse me as I laugh hysterically at such a notion.
Unfortunately, those people also seem to be set to take power at the national level in January, so I won’t be laughing too hard.
Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger and lifetime shooter. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia. He also puts out a daily newsletter of non-Second Amendment stories at https://tomknighton.substack.com/
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Two years ago, Ermiya Fanaeian helped create the Utah chapter of the student gun control group March For Our Lives. Today, the 20-year old is helping to resurrect the defunct Salt Lake City chapter of the Pink Pistols, a pro-2A group focused on defending the right to keep and bear arms for members of the LGBTQ community. What happened to turn the college student from a gun control activists to a Second Amendment supporter?
“As working-class people, we should not be disarmed,” she said. “There is everlasting violence against LGBTQ people that oftentimes politicians, on whatever side of the aisle, are not addressing, and we need to be able to protect ourselves. And because of that, I came to this understanding that the March for Our Lives goals do not align with my goals.”
Fanaeian was a 17-year old high school student when a killer walked onto the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and murdered 17 people. In response, she helped to organize a pro-gun control protest at the Utah state capitol attended by thousands of students. She was quoted in papers at the time telling gun owners that “we don’t wish to deprive you of your fetishism for your menacing weapons,” but now she’s become a gun owner herself.
“I used to think that guns were a scary thing,” she said. “Back then, I would have agreed with Joe Biden’s assertion to take everyone’s AR-15s away. And now I own one.”
Fanaeian may have shifted her views on the Second Amendment, but her political ideology is still further to the left than many gun owners in deep-red Utah. The good news, at least for those of who view armed self-defense as a human right, is that she’s not alone on the left in embracing the right to bear arms. The Salt Lake City chapter of the Pink Pistols, which had fallen into a state of limbo after its founding a few years ago, has found new life with Fanaeian engaged in outreach.
“We’ve had folks from all different walks of life in all different parts of the state reach out to us,” she said. “They express their wants to finally be able to defend themselves, defend their families and defend their communities. … They didn’t know it was an option for LGBTQ folks to do so.”
Anyone can join the Pink Pistols, and Fanaeian says the group is currently made up of college-age people of all races and sexual orientations, including Ashton Leve, a graduate student who joined the group as an ally about a month ago.
“With all the things that are going on in the world, there’s a lot of hate. Every voting period seems to bring out the worst in people,” said Leve who, like Fanaeian, has been a gun owner for less than a year.
“It never really occurred to me that (LGBTQ people) get hit or assaulted just for being who they are,” he said. “I felt like this was a good way to reach out and address some of these issues.”
Of course, not every LGBTQ organization in Utah is as gun-friendly as the Pink Pistols. While Fanaeian argues that “we can’t talk about empowering marginalized communities while simultaneously trying to disarm marginalized communities,” other longtime activists in the state are still clinging to their support for gun bans and more.
Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, the Beehive State’s “premier LGBTQ civil rights organization,” said, “Many LGBTQ Utahns own guns, either for sport or self-defense. Many don’t.”
“As an organization we support the Second Amendment. We draw the line, however, at military grade weapons in the hands of civilians. We’re talking about weapons like the SIG MCX semi-automatic that was used to murder 49 LGBTQ people and wound 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. These deadly weapons of war belong in the hands of soldiers, not civilians,” Williams said.
Fanaeian, on the other hand, wants to see community-based solutions to stop gun violence, rather than what she calls “restrictive gun control.”
“As far as legislatively trying to do things such as ban assault weapons, or ultimately make it harder for regular everyday folks to access guns only so rich elitist people can access them … I’m completely against those initiatives.”
The Second Amendment isn’t just a right of the Right, any more than it’s a right limited to straight white guys in the suburbs or the country. It’s the right of the people to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed, and I’m excited to see voices like Ermiya Fanaeian’s used to defend that right, rather than trying to take it away.
Cam Edwards has covered the 2nd Amendment for more than 15 years as a broadcast and online journalist, as well as the co-author of "Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and Other Manly Advice" with Jim Geraghty. He lives outside of Farmville, Virginia with his family.
More posts from Cam Edwards
Posted 21 hours ago
If you had told me when I was a teenager that I would be a gun owner as an adult, I would have looked at you askew. Me? If you had gone on to tell me that I would possess a concealed-carry permit, that I would own an AR-15—actually, make that three AR-15s, all of which I built myself—and that I would be a steadfast champion of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, I would have thought you had lost your marbles. I grew up in England, where such things were not only prohibited but considered extremely strange. Even though I loved America, I, too, thought its attachment to the right to bear arms was a relic and a curiosity, driven by eccentrics.
And then two things happened. While studying the issue in college, I learned that the claim that the Second Amendment protected a “collective right”—a claim that was much repeated in England—was an outright lie that was contradicted by all the available history. And then, while visiting the United States in 2005, I was taken to a gun range by a friend and taught how to use a pistol. Together, these experiences changed everything.
Having spent some time around people who understood firearms, and who were determined to treat them appropriately, I could see how wrong I had been.
My friend only had one firearm with him, but that didn’t matter, because, having learned that it was my first time shooting a handgun, everyone else there let me shoot theirs, too. By the end, I had tried 10 or 11 different models. I shot at neon targets and pictures of zombies. I was shown how to hold the guns, how to load them, aim them and control them, and, later on, how to clean them. It was an education. Silly as it may sound, until that day, I had absorbed as if by osmosis the idea that guns had a life of their own—especially handguns, which were uniformly banned in Britain. Having spent some time around people who understood firearms, and who were determined to treat them appropriately, I could see how wrong I had been.
In the car on the way back from the range, my friend explained to me how frustrated he was with the rules in the state in which he lived, which, at the time, prohibited him from carrying in most circumstances. “As you can see,” he told me, “I train with my gun and know how to use it. I’m happy to apply for a license. I have no criminal record. Why am I denied the chance to protect myself?” At most points in my life, this would have sounded ridiculous to me. But it didn’t sound ridiculous anymore. Back in England, I had already accepted that the Second Amendment applied to my friend, not to some abstract government-led “militia.” Now, I could see why. What ill could come from the people I had just met owning or carrying their guns? They were not the problem. And neither was I.
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