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Charlie T Waite

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  1. New York State Rifle & Pistol - Will the city succeed in avoiding review? Major Businesses Under Fire From Gun-Free Zone Advocates, FBI Failed to Complete Hundreds of Thousands of Background Checks, Philly asks parents to sweep kids’ rooms for guns. Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at Firearms Policy Coalition. You can connect with him on Twitter @MattLaAtLaw. New York State Rifle & Pistol - Will the city succeed in avoiding review? Monday saw the Supreme Court hear oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. The City of New York, a case we’ve been discussing almost ad nauseum for the last year or so. As we’ve also been covering, the city engaged in what Justice Gorsuch called a “herculean, late-breaking effort[] to moot the case.” That characterization is pretty apt. We’ve been unsure whether the City’s attempt to get out of review would work. This puts the justices between a rock and a hard place. The Constitution is pretty clear about the requirements for federal courts to have jurisdiction over a case in Article III. There’s a reason for strict standing requirements, but the ones in our constitution enable situations like this. If the City has really “mooted” the case, the Court has no legal jurisdiction to decide the case. There are doctrines designed to prevent abuses of mootness. Things like voluntary cessation, where the government stops doing an abuse to avoid being set straight, then continues the conduct later on. The City planned ahead for this, working closely with the State of New York to pre-empt its conduct. This is all in an obvious, desperate attempt to prevent the Court from clarifying the Second Amendment and enabling lower courts to decide cases in a more rational way. The focus of the argument was pretty squarely on mootness. The liberal wing of the Court have bought the mootness argument, with Kavanaugh and Roberts being the possible “swing” on the mootness question. Nothing we can do now but watch and see. Even if this case fails on mootness, there are more solid cases in the pipeline the Court could just as easily take up. Check out FPC’s amicus brief in Medina and Worman for some examples of cases waiting in the wings. Major Businesses Under Fire From Gun-Free Zone Advocates The holidays are finally here and what better way to celebrate than to read score cards on... retail store gun policies? Various anti-gun organizations have formed a loose confederation called Business Must Act, which assigned grades to 29 companies ranging from “A” (read: most oppressive policies) to “F” (we presume this stands for Freedom) based on three standards: prohibiting customers from bearing arms, donating to Congressional recipients of NRA dollars, “demanding action on gun reform,” and also granting bonus points for ending gun sales. This isn’t the first time private businesses have tried to enforce their political views on legitimate businesses, and it certainly won’t be the last. These measures have nothing to do with gun safety. Of the above factors, only prohibiting customers from carry can be even remotely considered related to safety, and even still, such policies are largely unenforceable. The rest of the metrics are obvious attempts at accruing passive support for defeating political candidates and policies that their group considers undesirable. In addition to being unrelated to safety, the scores are at times bizarre. The group gave Kroger, a grocery store chain, five bonus points for no longer selling guns. The silver lining is that you are always free to shop at and support Second Amendment-friendly businesses, and the “Freedom” rank might be helpful for that. Fidelity, Bravery, Incompetence - The FBI Failed to Complete Hundreds of Thousands of Background Checks Over the Last Six Years On Wednesday, Roll Call reported that data they had obtained indicates that the Federal Bureau of Investigation purged 1,115,630 unresolved NICS transactions from the beginning of 2014 through September 30, 2019. Out of an average 8.2 million background checks per year, these purges constitute an average of 2.3% of all applications. This is nearly double the percent of denied applications, which is only 1.2%, and pales in comparison to the number of background checks delayed longer than 72 hours which rang in at an average of 10.7%. So what can we glean from this? The federal government is massively inefficient at regulating the sale of firearms, despite substantial funding and Congressional support. Rampant erroneous actions on the part of the government here is also consistent with our position that universal background checks won’t have a significant impact on public safety, especially not enough to justify the costs to Americans. Philly asks parents to sweep kids’ rooms for guns In a fantastically bizarre twist on the typical tactic to “get guns off streets” through buybacks, the Philadelphia City Council, police commissioner, and others urged parents this week to search their children’s rooms for weapons, and to hand in any discovered derringers or hidden holsters at four churches on Saturday. This whole charade is just weird. It makes one wonder how many underage kids managed to get hold of guns in Philly for the city to even conceive of this. Also, asking others to turn in someone else’s property with “no questions asked” is a pretty dubious position for the government to put itself in. Does this mean the city doesn’t care if parents of legal adults are empowered to dispose of a lawfully owned gun? Clinging to an absurd conception that a specific firearm has any relevance to a criminal, acting Commissioner Christine Coulter rationalized the move with “if we get one turn-in from a gun buyback, odds are that gun will never be used in violence.” In similar fashion, if I feed my keyboard to a trash compactor, it will not likely be used to write about gun rights again. This, of course, has nothing to do with my propensity to do the same.
  2. Annual firearms purchases in October were up over 10%, with more than 1.1 million total sales, according to multiple reports. Reports from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to estimate the number of guns sold nationally. SAAF said the firearms industry saw enough gains from August through October to make up for lower sales numbers from earlier in the year. The increased number of purchases “coincides with a move towards stricter gun-control positions in the Democratic presidential primary,” reported the Washington Free Beacon. “As the 2020 election draws closer and Democrats focus more on gun bans or even confiscation, gun sales could continue to increase.” “The NICS data continues to show us that Americans value their Second Amendment freedoms,” Mark Oliva, an NSSF spokesman, told the newspaper. “Today’s firearms owners continue to vote with their wallets, purchasing the firearms that best suit their needs, whether that is for self-defense, recreational target shooting, or hunting.” The uptick in both firearms sales and background checks is due at least in part to the push by anti-gun politicians who want to legislate away your Second Amendment rights. When speaking to Fox Business about the increase in the number of background checks, Oliva said, “Americans are choosing to invest their hard-earned dollars in their ability [to] exercise their rights and buy the firearms they want before gun control politicians attempt to regulate away that ability.” There has been no shortage of anti-Second Amendment politicians who have made their intentions abundantly clear.
  3. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill say local police who do not enforce gun control measures likely to pass in Virginia should face prosecution and even threats of the National Guard. After November's Virginia Legislature elections that led to Democrats taking control of both chambers, the gun control legislation proposed by some Democrats moved forward, including universal background checks, an “assault weapons” ban, and a red flag law. Legal firearm owners in the state, however, joined with their sheriffs to form Second Amendment sanctuary counties, which declare the authorities in these municipalities uphold the Second Amendment in the face of any gun control measure passed by Richmond. Over 75 counties in Virginia have so far adopted such Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions in the commonwealth, the latest being Spotsylvania County. The board of supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring that county police will not enforce state-level gun laws that violate Second Amendment rights. Virginia Democratic officials, however, already say local law enforcement supporting these resolutions will face consequences if they do not carry out any law the state Legislature passes. “I would hope they either resign in good conscience, because they cannot uphold the law which they are sworn to uphold, or they're prosecuted for failure to fulfill their oath,” Democratic Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly told the Washington Examiner of local county police who may refuse to enforce future gun control measures. “The law is the law. If that becomes the law, you don't have a choice, not if you're a sworn officer of the law.” Democratic Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin suggested cutting off state funds to counties that do not comply with any gun control measures that pass in Richmond. “They certainly risk funding, because if the sheriff's department is not going to enforce the law, they're going to lose money. The counties' attorneys offices are not going to have the money to prosecute because their prosecutions are going to go down,” he said. McEachin also noted that Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam could call the National Guard, if necessary. “And ultimately, I'm not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law,” he said. “That's his call, because I don't know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that's obviously an option he has.” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring blamed the numerous Second Amendment resolutions in the state on the “gun lobby” as a tactic to frighten state residents. “The resolutions that are being passed are being ginned up by the gun lobby to try to scare people. What we’re talking about here are laws that will make our communities and our streets safer,” Herring told CBS 6. “So, when Virginia passes these gun safety laws that they will be followed, they will be enforced,” he added.
  4. Near-record-breaking numbers of FBI background checks indicated high gun sales for “Black Friday,” which is often considered the biggest shopping day of the year. “We saw good numbers and good traffic throughout the week,” Mark Abramson, a New Mexico gun store owner, told America’s 1st Freedom. “People are starting to think about safety again and what’s really going on.” According to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS), Nov. 29 saw 202,465 background checks, an 11% increase over Black Friday 2018. The only Black Friday higher than 2019 in NICS was for 2017, with 203,086 background checks. As several news outlets have reported, the number of Black Friday background checks exceeds the number of U.S. Marines, of which there are 182,000. The NICS numbers do not directly correlate to gun purchases. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) regularly adjusts the NICS numbers to reflect actual purchases more accurately, by removing known checks and re-checks related to concealed carry licenses. So, while the NICS numbers reflect more than 2.5 million background checks in November, the NSSF estimates actual gun sales for the month were closer to 1.3 million. This year’s Black Friday week ranks as the ninth-highest week of background checks, according to the NICS data.
  5. I always just start by asking them about the 3rd, and let's not forget the 14th
  6. Have you also noticed that only their view matters, and that once you voice your view if it differs your are called vile names, slandered and possible assaulted, your already guilty of something and they will do what ever to find out what it is or make it up? Speaking of, there are several other amendments we are losing.
  7. Doc Ward; What I posted is what I have seen in some of the legal briefs - and whether or not we like it or agree with it, that is the definition the government has put on it in most cases. I agree with your point of view but again that is what we are trying to change. The problem is we (collectively) have let the government do this - they forget who hired them by vote and why they are there the minute they are elected. We need to remind them that they work for us and are sent there to represent us not to lead us - they are not our leaders, they are our representatives. Will Rogers said it best when he said congress like a diaper should be changed often and for the same reason.
  8. It is only here of late that anyone thanked me for my service and to be honest I'm not sure how to react, as others from my time know some of us were not even welcomed home, in fact it was not a good way to come home in the early 70s. Even with family we had issues so some of us found it easier not to talk about it an just try to get on with life. My wife found my discharge from one branch from 1974 and an old set of orders from different branch from right after 1991 (glutten for punishment she ask). She knew I was prior military because of my VA Comp, but that was all she knew at that time. But I got off topic, I say thanks back as I get a bit embarrassed and was just wondering am I the only one who reacts this way. By the way Pat, I was a tail-ender; but as I don't know the person I can't make a judgement.
  9. The thing is some want links, some want cut and paste so I try to compromise it because I know not everyone will be happy. I also leave it in a larger print font as apposed to plain text size to make it easier on old eyes just like mine. FYI, I do read these before I post them to see if there is enough value to our readers and that it stays within the scope of what Team SASS is about. - take the post Guess How Many Guns Philadelphia’s Gun “Turn In” Program Produced for example. The 1st section gives a good bit of info about the article with a couple of links, also it shows a different approach to their buy back issues and what they are doing now to get our guns. Also, one should be able to get an idea of whether or not they want to continue read from there.
  10. I receive these newsletters so I thought I would upload the FFL portion (in PDF format as it was received) from the December newsletter (that you can download and read) so everyone could see some of the changes that are taking place. One should take note that these are not new laws enacted by the legislators and signed by the executive office. FFL_Newsletter_2019.pdf
  11. This weekend, police officers in Philadelphia hosted a gun turn-in event at two locations in the City of Brotherly love. Citizens were invited to come and turn in any firearms they had, no questions asked and without danger of facing prosecution. Despite setting up shop at multiple locations and publicizing the event on the radio, television and social media, the total number of weapons surrendered was… six. But the event’s organizers still said they were “pleased” with the results. (CBS Philadelphia) SEE ALSO: Virginia Dems on gun confiscation: Never mind To get a feel for what sort of weapons were turning up, check out this brief video report from CBS News channel 3 in Philly. It includes some footage of the haul. Normally I’d be finding some wry humor in a project that only managed to get a half dozen guns of dubious quality off the street, but Philadelphia is at least trying something different here. This wasn’t a “buy back” scheme, asking owners to sell their firearms. The police made an appeal to parents of young people who they suspect might be involved in gang activity. They asked them to go search their homes (carefully) while the kids were at school or otherwise occupied to see if there were any weapons hidden around the place. And if they found any, to bring them down and hand them over. While it obviously didn’t produce much in the way of results, when it comes to gang violence we really do have to get the families involved. And what is one of these kids going to do if they come home and find their Glock missing? I doubt they’ll be yelling down the stairs, “Mom! Have you seen my handgun?” Still, the few firearms collected don’t look much like what’s been killing Philadelphia’s young people out in the streets. (CBS reports that this year alone, 110 children age 17 and younger have been shot in the city.) The rifle they collected looks like s small caliber, pump-action model. One of the handguns is clearly an older revolver, while gang members tend to favor semiautomatics if they can obtain one. So Saturday’s efforts probably didn’t do much to put a dent in the illegal gun supply in that city. Still, as I mentioned above, they’re at least trying to take the important step of getting the families with teenage boys involved in finding solutions to urban gang violence. Baltimore, Maryland should adopt more of this type of approach as well. That’s particularly true when you consider that Charm City’s murder rate is massively higher than Philadelphia’s while having only one-third of their population.
  12. The Virginia Mercury reported Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky used a statement to say, “The governor’s assault weapons ban will include a grandfather clause for individuals who already own assault weapons, with the requirement they register their weapons before the end of a designated grace period.” Yarmosky made clear details on other gun controls will be made known before the start of the 2020 session in which Democrats take charge. On December 10, 2019, Breitbart News reported dozens of Virginia counties have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries, vowing not to enforce new gun controls which Democrats intend to pass. CNN reported that the total of number of Second Amendment Sanctuary counties in Virginia exceeds 40. Gov. Northam made clear his intention to launch a war on guns just days after the Democrats won legislative victories. He has a number of gun control plans in addition to an “assault weapons” ban. AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.
  13. In a recent column, well known Reason editor and writer Jacob Sullum makes a likely unintentional error. He writes that "preventing gun violence" is a compelling government interest. From townhall.com: Restrictions on fundamental rights usually pass muster only if they are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest -- in this case, preventing gun violence. "Gun violence" is an Orwellian phrase that compels the user to focus on guns rather than on illegitimate actions. “Preventing gun violence” is not a compelling government interest. Preventing murder, can be a compelling government interest, though, in our federal system of limited governmental powers, it should primarily be an interest of the States, not the federal government. Preventing suicide, may be a compelling government interest, though the case is less clear than preventing murder. Some governments are involved in approving of, and assisting in, some suicides. Preventing justified homicides is clearly *not* a compelling governmental interest; promoting justified homicides aids in lowering murder, violent crime, and crime generally. Preventing accidents may be a secondary governmental interest. Preventing a murder or suicide committed with a particular method is *not* a compelling governmental interest, because it is not clear if prohibiting one method will do anything to lower murders or suicides generally. It is arguable that prohibiting one method will lead to the rise of other methods. If preventing one method does not lower the overall rate, resources have been wasted and liberties narrowed to no effect. Thus, singling out one method becomes a matter of choice and preference. Using the Orwellian phrases of Progressives is one of the easiest ways to lose an argument with them. If you cede to them the ability to define the words and terms of the language used, they win, mostly by default. A "compelling governmental interest" is a legal concept used in the application of strict scrutiny of actions that effect Constitutional rights. It is the highest level of interest. In the lowest level, "rational basis", the governmental interest need only serve a legitimate function. Statutes are almost never found to violate the rational basis standard. In the middle level "intermediate scrutiny" the governmental interest must be shown to be important, a higher test than legitimate. For "strict scrutiny", a compelling interest must be shown. From mtsu.edu: An interest is compelling when it is essential or necessary rather than a matter of choice, preference, or discretion. Examples of compelling governmental interests would be: protecting the country from invasion; maintaining the rule of law in contracts and property rights; protecting the structure and execution of Constitutional order. "Preventing gun violence" is precisely a matter of choice, preference, and discretion. The choice, preference and discretion of those who want a disarmed population, are all aimed at disarming the rest of society, precisely what the Second Amendment is designed to prevent. Progressives do not believe in Constitutional order. They do not believe in limiting governmental power. They do not believe in God or in an moral code. Opposition to the Second Amendment is in Progressivism's DNA. ©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
  14. Is there anything more patently patriotic than an Air Force flyover? Think about it. Whether at a big game or Fourth of July celebration, seeing jets scream across the sky in tight formation just gives me goosebumps. So, I guess it’s apropos that the Air Force led the way towards adoption of the AR-15, M16, M4 and all the other variants. You see, back in 1954 one Eugene Stoner, chief engineer for Armalite, a division of Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Corporation, met George Sullivan, chief patent counsel for Lockheed Aircraft. Sullivan in particular had this weird idea to use advanced plastics and aluminum alloys in weapons design. The two men shared much enthusiasm over the possibilities. Over the next two years, the Air Force tasked Armalite to develop a light and compact survival rifle that would float—that’s a handy feature when ejecting over water. This put some distinct objectives, and dollars, behind the idea of: “What can we do with plastics and alloys in firearms design?” Anyway, this weapons work funded by the Air Force arguably shaped Armalite’s thinking when the Army began a search for a rifle to replace in the M1 Garand starting in 1955. While the AR-10 submitted by Armalite didn’t float, it used plastic and alloys like the Air Force AR-5 Survival Rifle, so it was 3 pounds lighter than competing entries. This allowed users to carry more critical supplies, like ammo and beef jerky. Fast forward some years, and while the Army requested development of a lighter version of the AR-10, hence the AR-15, it was the Air Force that placed an early order for 8,500 of the rifles. The Air Force liked it, renamed their version to the M16 and standardized on the new rifle. Not to be outdone, the Army placed an order for 85,000 of the new firearms. Thus began the transition to the M16 and its variants, arguably led by the guys and girls who do patriotic flyovers. What’s more American than that? There are few absolutely unique innovations in small arms design, but the direct gas operation of the AR-15 was a clear differentiating point between America’s rifle and those fielded by the bad guys. And guess what happens when all those M16 and M4 carriers muster out and want to buy a civilian rifle? Just as with previous classics like the Springfield 1903, they’ll tend to opt for the familiar and buy an AR-15, which, as it turned out, was made available to civilians at the same time the U.S. military bought the internally very different M16—that too is historically in keeping with American firearms design. Today, when push comes to shove, if something is going to be deemed “America’s Rifle,” there’d better be a lot of them. It is estimated there are now more than 16 million AR-15-type rifles in American civilian hands. On a related note, America is all about freedom, including freedom of choice. Yes, the AR-15 is a rifle, but practically speaking, it’s a category. It’s a platform. It’s a universe of variants and compatible accessories. In a sense, it’s like a pickup truck—another uniquely American thing. Lots of companies make them, and even more companies make gear and accessories. That means that buyers have choice in exactly how their rifle will look and be equipped. Want a small one? No problem. Want a light one? Easy. Want one painted up with Hello Kitty graphics? I’m sadly confident someone has done it.
  15. The Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services has started auctioning off evidence guns to federally licensed firearms dealers in accordance with a law enacted in April 2018, according to an article in Seven Days, an independent news outlet in Vermont. Under the new law, the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services works with evidence clerks to identify, transport, store, and then auction the guns. Previously, the Vermont Department of Public Safety was charged with storing seized and abandoned guns, and the state treasurer was responsible for their disposal, but no treasurer had acted to put a disposal system in place, according to the article. “The state treasurer had issues with storage space and determining whether the guns were safe, so no transfers actually occurred,” Christopher Herrick, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, told America’s 1st Freedom. “So, we worked with the Department of Buildings and General Services to get that changed. We just had firearms around which we couldn't really move for practical purposes. This allows us to open up the stockpiles—the storage capabilities—to alleviate pressures.” Many of the guns were first confiscated because they were possessed illegally or involved in a crime. However, the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services does not accept guns involved in homicides or suicides, so these are still left for local police to continue storing or to dispose of on their own. “That, to me, is a real sticking point because, unfortunately, suicide by firearm is very common,” Sgt. Jeff Pearson, who oversees the Montpelier Police Department’s evidence room, told the Seven Days reporters. He estimated that between 10% and 15% of the guns in Montpelier’s possession came from families of suicide victims who do not want them back. “I think being selective is not the right approach. I think there needs to be some kind of mechanism in place to take all of them—or give us another alternative.” The Department of Buildings and General Services reportedly began auctioning the evidence in 25-gun lots last June. Some unique firearms that have come into their possession, such as two German WWII military guns, are reportedly auctioned individually. The Seven Days article notes that more than $30,000 has been raised in nine auctions so far. A portion of the funds are allocated back to the originating municipality for further evidence storage and handling, with the remainder going to the Department of Buildings and General Services to fund the disposition program.
  16. I do appreciate the nomination, but Team SASS State Directors volunteer - Should this happen I would be more than happy to accept them. So what about you MizPete?
  17. 12.09.19 Just in time for the Christmas Holiday, the folks at “Lift Every Voice” have presented 3 new ways to send Oregon gun owners to jail. They’ve introduced three more ballot measures to restrict and regulate the possession of firearms and firearm feeding devices for the 2020 ballot. In their usual rush to ignore facts, they have created a new category of firearm; the “semi-automatic assault firearm.” Semi-automatic assault firearm means (among other things and we did not make this up) “A selective fire rifle capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic or burst fire at the option of the user..” (Or anything that looks like scary.) They also include many shotguns and handguns in the list of firearms they hope to restrict. Early news reports not only got the number of new ballot measures wrong but also misidentified one of the ballot measures as “Measure 43” which was a measure dealing with driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. In this report (possibly corrected by the time you read this) Channel 12 said : “On Monday, they filed Measure 43, the first of two petitions that would require a five-day background check and keep anyone under 21 years old from purchasing assault-style rifles and limit magazines to ten rounds or less.” Channel 12 did, however, quote us correctly if not completely. The three new ballot measures (now in addition to the mandatory lock up measure we are currently addressing in court) are IP 60, IP 61 and IP 62. IP 60. “will implement an enhanced safety training course, add a waiting period and require that the background check be successfully completed before a semiautomatic assault firearm is delivered to the purchaser, so that we ensure these weapons are kept out of dangerous hands; and … follow several other states by raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic assault firearms to twenty-one …” IP 61 “will follow several other states by raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic assault firearms to twenty-one; and…enhance the safety of residents, particularly children, of this state by prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transfer of large-capacity ammunition magazines…” IP 62 “will enhance the safety of residents, particularly children, of this state by prohibiting the manufacture, sale or purchase of large-capacity ammunition magazines” As usual, they are doing it all “for the children.” Obviously these attacks will only be part of the upcoming battles since the Democrats in Salem have promised to get as much of this nonsense as possible passed as legislation in February. As you can imagine, we’re going to need all the help we can get fighting these attacks as well as the previously filed IP 40 which requires that your firearms be inaccessible. Please consider donating what you can to protect your rights and the rights of your children and grandchildren. Details on proposed measures: IP 60 IP 61 IP 62
  18. New York City’s successful defense of its arbitrary restrictions on transporting handguns highlights judicial disrespect for the Second Amendment. New York’s uniquely onerous restrictions on transporting guns were so hard to justify that the city stopped trying. Instead, it rewrote the rules after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a constitutional challenge to them, and now it argues that the case is moot. Despite the obvious vulnerability of New York’s regulations, the city successfully defended them for five years, obtaining favorable rulings from a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. That track record highlights a glaring problem the Supreme Court could address if it rejects the city’s mootness claim: More than a decade after the justices recognized that the Second Amendment imposes limits on gun control, lower courts routinely treat the right to keep and bear arms as a minor hindrance that can be overcome by the slightest excuse. Under New York’s rules, licensed pistol and revolver owners were not allowed to leave home with their handguns, even if they were unloaded and stored in a locked container separate from the ammunition, unless they were traveling to or from one of seven gun ranges in the city. If a New Yorker wanted to practice at a range, participate in a competition or defend himself at a second home outside the five boroughs, the only legal option was to buy (or rent) additional handguns. The justification for those seemingly arbitrary restrictions was always hard to fathom, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, no one’s idea of a Second Amendment fanatic, noted during oral arguments on Monday. “What public safety or any other reasonable end is served by saying you have to have two guns instead of one,” she wondered, “and one of those guns has to be maintained in a place that is often unoccupied and that therefore (is) more vulnerable to theft?” Richard Dearing, the attorney representing New York City, was stumped. “Petitioners have identified a difficult application of our former rule that wasn’t really contemplated when the rule was adopted,” he said. Justice Samuel Alito asked Dearing if New Yorkers are “less safe” now that the city has loosened its restrictions. “No, I don’t think so,” Dearing replied. “We made a judgment, expressed by our police commissioner, that it was consistent with public safety to repeal the prior rule.” In that case, Alito wondered, “what possible justification could there have been for the old rule, which you have abandoned?” Dearing again had no good answer, except to say that it was a bit easier for police to verify that a gun owner was on his way to or from a range on Staten Island, as opposed to a range in Yonkers or New Jersey. Restrictions on fundamental rights usually pass muster only if they are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest — in this case, preventing gun violence. But as the gun owners who challenged New York’s rules note, “The only ‘evidence’ the city has ever mustered to support the tailoring of its policy is an affidavit from a former commander of the state licensing division hypothesizing, with no evidentiary support whatsoever, that the mere presence of a handgun — even unloaded, secured in a pistol case, separated from its ammunition, and stowed in the trunk of the car — might pose a public-safety risk in ‘road rage’ or other ‘stressful’ situations.” That implausible scenario was enough to persuade the 2nd Circuit. In the appeals court’s view, the city’s assertion that the transport ban was necessary to protect public safety — a claim it has now disavowed — outweighed the plaintiffs’ “trivial” interest in using their guns for self-defense outside the city or in honing the skills required for that constitutionally protected purpose. Such casual disregard for the right to keep and bear arms is plainly inconsistent with what the Supreme Court has said about the Second Amendment. That’s why the city is so desperate to prevent the justices from considering an argument that was good enough until now. Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Creators Syndicate Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.
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