A Win In Virginia For Indoor Ranges (Updated)

Despite the Supreme Court punting on the NYSRPA case, it hasn’t been a totally bad day in the courts. Judge F. Patrick Yeatts of the 24th Judicial District of Virginia granted SafeSide Virginia, VCDL, GOA, and the Association of Gun Ranges of Virginia a temporary injunction against Gov. Ralph Northam’s closure order.

Judge Yeatts found that Gov. Northam had exceeded his authority in closing indoor gun ranges. Northam had argued that his authority came from his chief executive power to assure that “laws are faithfully executed” and that he could ignore laws that limited his authority. Judge Yeatts disagreed saying:

The Court cannot agree with such an expansive interpretation of the Governor’s authority. His duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” include the laws that limit his power during emergencies like §44-146.15 (3).

Accordingly, the Court finds that the Governor’s power to close whole categories of businesses would only come from §44-146.17, which is constrained by §44-146.15(3) regarding the right to keep and bear arms.

Judge Yeatts notes that the Virginia Constitution includes the words “trained to arms” in the prefatory clause of the Commonwealth’s equivalent of the Second Amendment. He goes on to say that “gun ranges provide a venue for such training to occur, thus, “bear arms” includes loading and shooting at a gun range.” He then references the 7th Circuit’s decision in the Ezell v. Chicago.

In discussing the appropriate level of scrutiny, Judge Yeatts says, “The Court declines to invent a level of scrutiny to circumvent the text in the statute.” §44-146.15(3) says that the governor cannot “in any way limit or prohibit the right of the people to keep and bear arms” during an emergency.

The judge believes the plaintiffs will succeed on the merits. He found that they would suffer irreparable harm if forced to stay closed, that the balance of equities favors granting a temporary injunction, and that the injunction favors the public interest.

His order granting the injunction does note that safe distancing and sanitizing edicts of Executive Order 53 should be followed.

Cam Edwards, writing at BearingArms.com, believes Northam will appeal.

The governor will almost certainly appeal Judge Yeatts decision, but for the moment, SafeSide Lynchburg and other indoor ranges in the state are allowed to re-open. The judge made the right call. Let’s hope that the state Supreme Court agrees.

I agree with Cam’s hope that the Virginia Supreme Court likewise agrees.

UPDATE: I should clarify that Judge Yeatts’ order only applies to SafeSide Lynchburg. He did not order the rest of the indoor ranges in the state be opened.

VCDL sent out an email regarding the win and noted:

As for the other indoor ranges that are still closed, VCDL is disappointed that they were not covered under the ruling and we are weighing our legal options at this time.  Our goal is to get all indoor ranges the option of reopening as soon as possible.

Free Books For Your Quarantine Pleasure

If you are into military history, Osprey Publishing is offering a selection of free eBooks every week. Each week they will be putting up a series of five books and you can select one or all for download.

This week the books range from a book on the Hawker Hurricane to Samurai of the mid 1500s. In between is the Battle of Waterloo, US Heavy Cruisers, and the Czech Legion.

The link is here. The code for this week is FREEBOOKS2.

Since you are stuck at home in most places by governmental order unless you are considered essential, you might as well put it to good use.

This Is Why Newbies Are Buying Firearms

If the NICS figures are any indication, a lot of people are buying firearms. While the gun prohibitionists are portraying it as gun owners buying more, we know that is incorrect. There are a lot of first time gun buyers out there even when the state throws up roadblocks.

As to why there are a lot of newbies buying guns, it is because they correctly foresaw a rise in crime. They knew that a firearm, correctly used, will allow them to protect themselves and their families.

New York City has seen an increase in property crimes in the last 28 days according to the NYPD’s statistics. This includes a 6.9% rise in robberies, a 21.8% increase in burglaries, and a whopping 64.2 increase in grand theft auto. This is taking place in a city that is the nation’s epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You are having criminals being released from prison to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Moreover, you are seeing criminals who are caught be released on virtually no bail even for violent crimes. Bond amounts are equivalent to pocket change. And this is in Texas!

Breitbart Texas reports that even Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is concerned about the release of prisoners and the expected rise in crime.

Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said burglaries in the city are up 20 percent since the issuance of “Stay-Home, Work-Safe” orders put in place by Harris County.

“Right now, burglaries have spiked 20 percent,” Chief Acevedo told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. “Some people are seeing the shutdown of businesses as a target-rich opportunity. Habitual burglars should not be released.”

The chief said that there needs to be a plan for what to do with habitual criminals that are being released from the Harris County jail under orders from County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “What happens to these folks after they are released,” the chief asked. “What is the plan?”

Acevedo said Judge Hidalgo did not consult with him about the issue of releasing criminals from the county jail, a large percentage of which were arrested by his officers.

You have to wonder if he is rethinking his position on gun control.

The rise in crime seems to be more place specific as there are locations like the Bay Area reporting a decrease in crime while Minneapolis is reporting an increase especially in business burglaries.

UPDATE: Colion Noir who lives in Houston reports that the mayor is asking criminals to just stay home “and chill”. I agree with Colion Noir’s skepticism.

GRNC And GOA Put Durham And Greensboro On Notice

The mayors of Greensboro and Durham have deemed firearms dealers and gun ranges to be “non-essential” businesses. Under their respective proclamations, non-essential businesses must close.

In response, Grass Roots North Carolina and Gunowners of America have sent a joint letter to each mayor. They note the Federal recommendation that firearms related businesses should be critical infrastructure. The letters ask that the mayors reverse the non-essential designation before noon on April 2nd or risk lawsuits. They also point out that Wake County had received a similar letter and made the changes.

From the release which was sent out by email:

Building on our success in convincing Wake County to reopen firearm-related businesses by adding them its list of “essential services” to avoid litigation, as well as today’s court decision ordering Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker to resume issuing pistol purchase permits, GRNC and GOA today sent letters to the Durham Mayor Steve Schewel and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn, advising them of their non-compliance with federal recommendations for critical infrastructure by ordering firearm related businesses to close.

GRNC will continue to monitor North Carolina cities and counties for non-compliance with state and federal statutes and for violations of the US and North Carolina constitutions during the coronavirus emergency.

To see the City of Durham letter: 

https://www.grnc.org/documents/goa-grnc-city-of-durham-soe-letter.pdf

To see the City of Greensboro letter: 

https://www.grnc.org/documents/goa-grnc-greensboro-soe-letter.pdf

Taking On Coronavirus!

You are stuck at home. It doesn’t matter if it is due to a quarantine, a “shelter in place” order, or your employer has mandated it. While normally you might go to the range once a week or so, that’s out for the most part.

So what can you do? Well, make the coronavirus work for you!

Use some of the time to practice your draw, your trigger stroke, and/or your grip and use coronavirus to do it! As you can see above, I have a target that was provided by Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor himself, set up in my kitchen. The link for it is here.

If I stand on the other side of the kitchen table, I’m just about 4 yards away which is the scale this target uses. You see the numbers on it? They stand for how far away the 8 inch target would appear at 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards respectively. You can use a SIRT pistol or really any UNLOADED firearm. Claude has some safety rules you should follow when dry fire practicing and you can read them here.

The original target was created by Hilton Yam of 10-8 Performance. Claude just modified it to add the coronavirus instead of black circles.

The bottom line is you can work on your skills, have some fun, and get back at that damn Wuhan coronavirus (aka Kung Flu aka COVID-19 aka China virus).

New Gun Owners In Some States, But Not Others

The following editorial was written by my friend “ScotShot”. He is a resident of New Jersey and a firearms trainer. ScotShot is a NRA Training Counselor, a USCCA instructor, and a CCW instructor. He is also the co-founder with Klint Macro of National Train-A-Teacher Day. He has a greater appreciation for the US Constitution and especially the Second Amendment than many. That is because he grew up in a country which has no written constitution and no such protections.

All of us gun owners across the country have been watching, and shaking our heads with a sort of wizened “told you so”, at the stories of people suddenly rushing to buy guns and ammunition, thanks to this new virus from China.

We’ve reserved particular attention, and rightly so, for our more liberal brothers and sisters who previously eschewed firearms ownership. In most states, the worst they’ve had to deal with is a long line, or perhaps a government mandated waiting period. Oh and yup, the mental butt hurt that comes from realizing that their favorite 2A loophole (the internet, gunshows, the gun-fairy..) doesn’t exist. You’d think they’d be pleased, except now they’re learning the hard way.

Of course, in some States, it’s even more difficult, which makes the residents of those States more at the mercy of their Government. Let’s consider what the situation is in New Jersey, which vies with California to have the most restrictive death-grip on the 2nd Amendment Rights of  its Citizens.

In New Jersey, if you want to buy a firearm for the first time, you need to apply for and obtain a “Firearms Purchaser Identification Card”, the FPID card. Getting one is tedious but straightforward, but usually takes around three months. So, right there, people who want to buy their first firearm in NJ as a result of this viral crisis are, as they say, S.O.L. So, no lines of frustrated gun-newbs in NJ.

“BUT!”, you say, “at least existing gun owners can get a handgun, all those over-under-only hunters and skeeters, can still protect themselves, right?” Sadly, no; to buy a handgun, FPID holders must first get a “Permit to Purchase a Pistol.” Getting one (or two, or as many as you want), is tedious but straightforward and yes you guessed it, usually takes around three months. So, no handgun for you, Elmer; you’d best resort to the Biden Protocol. Oh, you can only get one handgun a month, so too bad if something dramatic happens and you need more, like now.

Photo from Gov. Phil Murphy’s Facebook page

Nevertheless, law-abiding FPID card owners flooded their local FFLs and consequently flooded the NICS system. Enter villain number two, the NJ State NICS System. NJ is one of the states that gets between its gun-buyers and the Federal NICS system. Soon, the NJ NICS had a backlog of over 1,000 applications and then quickly announced that it was swamped and was unlikely to be able to process these in anything other than geological time. Then, the Governor closed the NJ NICS system, after not protecting gun stores and training facilities as essential, mandating their closure. Now, that’s no guns for anyone.

On Saturday March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy announced he is putting New Jersey in lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus. Per Executive Order 107, he is ordering the residents of New Jersey to stay home, directing all non-essential retail businesses closed to the public. At this time, the order includes New Jersey Firearms State Licensed Dealers. The New Jersey State Police NICS Unit is directing the vendor of the NICS Online Application (NICUSA) to turn off the NICS Online Services for submitting NICS transactions by eliminating the “Request Form” button, effective 9:00pm EST, Saturday, March 21, 2020. You will still have the ability to view the message board and the status of previously submitted transactions. This “Request Form” feature will remain off until further order by Governor Murphy.

All of this of course, against a background of a governmental supermajority that supports even greater restrictions on 2A rights, firearm types and features, ammunition registrations and so on.

Hopefully, our new brothers and sisters in most states are getting what they want, and feel secure. Hopefully, they will go forward from this viral crisis and obtain proper training on the safe and efficient handling and use of their chosen firearms and hopefully, that will be happening all across our great country. It’s won’t be happening in New Jersey though. In New Jersey, the State Government will use this crisis to increase its grip on the lives of the people who live here, and their dependency on the government spoon.

Three Of My Favorite Groups Unite To Take On Wake Sheriff

Wake County (NC) Sheriff Gerald Baker should be feeling a bit uneasy right about now. That’s because three of my favorite groups – Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition – have come together to file suit against Baker’s refusal to even take applications for the Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit.

For those that don’t know, in North Carolina, you need a pistol purchase permit to purchase a handgun regardless of whether it is from a dealer or a private individual unless you possess a NC Concealed Handgun Permit. As I’ve written about it many a time, the law was passed in 1919 in an unspoken but well understood effort to keep African-Americans, Populists, and union backers disarmed.

The suit has been filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The individual plaintiff is Kerry Stafford who decided a handgun was the proper firearm with which to defend herself and her family. After calling the Wake County sheriff’s department for an PPP application, she was refused.

The complaint alleges that Sheriff Baker has exceeded his discretion and has violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments depriving Ms. Stafford and others of their constitutional rights under color of law. It asks that either an injunction be issued or that the requirement for a pistol purchase permit be waived until April 30th.

It is great to see these groups working together. For GRNC and SAF, it is a reprise of the joint efforts that led to the win in Bateman v. Perdue.

They issued a joint release which I have copied below:

GRNC, SAF, FPC File Federal Lawsuit Against Wake County, NC Sheriff Over Constitutional Violations

RALEIGH, NC (March 27, 2020) ­— Today, attorneys for an individual Wake County, North Carolina resident, Grass Roots North Carolina, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and Firearms Policy Coalition filed a federal lawsuit challenging Wake County Sheriff Gerald M. Baker’s recent actions infringing on Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights he announced as a response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:

https://www.grnc.org/documents/Complaint-Wake-County-Filed.pdf

This latest case tracks a 2011 federal court victory in Bateman v. Perdue, also led by plaintiffs Second Amendment Foundation and Grass Roots North Carolina, which successfully challenged North Carolina statutes restricting firearms during states of emergency.

“Although Sheriff Gerald Baker claims his refusal to accept applications for pistol purchase permits and concealed handgun permits doesn’t infringe on individual rights, nothing could be further from the truth,” said GRNC president Paul Valone. “During this emergency, as always, GRNC intends to ensure that lawful North Carolinians have the means to protect themselves and their families.”

“Sheriff Baker is implementing by fiat what the Supreme Court struck down in Heller – a ban on a citizen’s right to purchase a handgun for the defense of hearth and home. This action cannot be allowed to stand,” said GRNC Director of Legal Affairs Ed Green.

“Times of emergency is when you need the ability to obtain the means of self-defense the most. Suspending that right is not acceptable. That is why this lawsuit is so important,” commented SAF founder and Executive Vice President, Alan Gottlieb.

“Sheriff Baker’s unconstitutional actions have and will deprive law-abiding, peaceable individuals the opportunity to obtain handguns, the ‘quintessential self-defense weapon’ according to the U.S. Supreme Court, in a time where the arms are most needed,” explained attorney and FPC Director of Legal Strategy, Adam Kraut. “Sheriff Baker’s actions to stop processing and issuing required  Pistol Purchase Permits violate fundamental human rights. We are proud to join GRNC and SAF in this fight to defend the rights of North Carolinians.”

Individual arms applicants/purchasers and retailers affected by ‘stay-home’ or shutdown orders can report potential civil rights violations to FPC’s COVID-19 Issue Hotline at www.FPChotline.org

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Ed Green, Raymond M. DiGuiseppe, and Adam Kraut.

Grass Roots North Carolina (www.grnc.org) is North Carolina’s most effective gun rights organization. GRNC was founded in 1994 as an independent, all-volunteer 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving constitutional freedoms. The organization’s projects are primarily devoted to defending the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing, and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom.

COVID-19, Supply Chains, and Firearms Manufacturers

I received an email yesterday afternoon from Kimber. It was detailing the impact of COVID-19 on their operations. Kimber has plants in both Yonkers, New York and Troy, Alabama. If you have spent any time watching the talking heads on TV, you know that New York has overtaken Washington State in the number of coronavirus cases.

Here is part of what was in the email:

Due to the New York state decision to shutter non-essential businesses as part of the COVID-19 response plan, Kimber Mfg. Inc. has stopped production at its New York facilities. 

Production continues at Kimber’s new, state-of-the-art Troy, Alabama manufacturing facility, with the entire line of handguns and long guns being assembled. Due to the large number of parts manufactured in Yonkers and the state mandated closure in New York, the Troy facility will suspend production on March 31st . “This situation is unfortunate as we were off to an incredible start in gun shipments in 2020 and were running our factories seven days a week. We would like to thank our dealers and consumers for their overwhelmingly positive response to our 2020 new products,” said Greg Grogan, Kimber president. With that said, if you are in the market for a Kimber firearm, now is the time to make that purchase.”

Kimber’s Alabama based customer service and repair services remain open to help customers with any questions they may have. In addition, the Alabama based Kimber online store is open and products are shipping as long as inventory lasts. Montana based dealer sales and customer service departments also remain open.

The bottom line is that even though your assembly plant is in an area which only has a relatively small number of coronavirus cases, you are still impacted adversely. Alabama has 531 cases as of today versus New York State with 39,140 cases according to the Johns Hopkins University compilation. Indeed, Westchester County, NY where Yonkers is located has over 10 times as many infections as the entire state of Alabama.

Then there is the whole issue of essential versus non-essential businesses. Some states have said firearms manufacturing would be considered an essential business because it provides tools to the defense industry or to law enforcement. Other states do not consider it essential. Even if you are in a state that considers your production essential, if your subcontractor making critical parts is located in a place that takes the opposite view, you are screwed.

The firearms industry is composed of primarily small businesses. Even the largest companies like Ruger and Smith & Wesson are considered small by comparison to other manufacturers. While the products are flying out the doors now, a mid to long period of enforced closure due to the pandemic is going to hurt.

GRNC Alert On Sheriff Baker’s Illegal Actions

Grass Roots North Carolina issued an alert this evening asking people to contact the Wake County Sheriff’s Department concerning the suspension of accepting applications.

From what I understand, GRNC is also considering legal action in light of this violation of state law.

From GRNC:

Sheriff Baker: No Guns for You
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Sheriff Baker is at it again. On Tuesday, March 24th, Baker announced that the Wake County Sheriffs Office will no longer be accepting applications for Pistol Purchase Permits or Concealed Handgun Permits. Under the guise of public safety, he is stripping away the one constitutional right that allows the men and women of North Carolina to keep themselves and their families safe.

Nothing under the NC Emergency Management Act gives the sheriff additional powers to restrict pistol purchase permits or concealed handgun permits during a declared state of emergency. The statute is quite clear that he has 14 days to issue or deny purchase permits, and nothing allows him to deny permits because he feels his office is too inundated with applications.

While some sheriffs have said they don’t want the public health risk of taking fingerprints for new CHPs, nothing should restrict applications for CHP renewals or PPPs.

GRNC will be calling for the repeal of the full Pistol Purchase Permit statute, as this lays bare the real reason sheriffs have lobbied to keep this leftover Jim Crow era law on the books. It gives them the power to arbitrarily deny firearms to citizens.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED!


Email Sheriff Baker at and let him know that his actions are putting lives at risk
: http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


Call his office and repeat this message, we cannot let up: 919-856-6900


PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO GRNC
: Help us fight gun control while we promote Second Amendment principles. Please CLICK HERE to contribute. Bear in mind that GRNC is an all-volunteer organization, so you can be sure your donations are put to the best possible use. Any amount helps, and any amount is appreciated.

CONTACT INFO
 
http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


919-856-6900

 
DELIVER THIS MESSAGE


Suggested Subject: “Permit Suspension”  

 
Dear : Sheriff Gerald M. Baker

 
Your actions on March 24th are a direct violation of your oath of office, and are not outlined in the NC Emergency Management Act. By law, you must approve or deny permits within 14 days. I call on you to immediately restore services to Wake county for pistol purchase and concealed handgun permits.
 
Respectfully,

Illegal Action By Wake County Sheriff

Sheriff Gerald Baker, Sheriff of Wake County, has unilaterally suspended taking new applications for pistol purchase permits and NC Concealed Handgun Permits through April 30th. Current applications will continue to be processed.

From the News and Observer:

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office will suspend pistol and concealed-carry permit applications until April 30 as demand surges amid the coronavirus outbreak, Sheriff Gerald Baker announced Tuesday.

Applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed, Baker said during a press briefing.

Pistol permit applications last week averaged 290 per day, or more than three times the roughly 90 applications per day during the same time period a year ago, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Baker said his office needs time to manage the backlog.

WRAL covered the press briefing and you can see it below. Sheriff Baker’s statement regarding pistol purchase permits and NC CHPs begins at the 5:15 mark.

Sheriff Baker has the gall to say that “it is not an emergency situation.” Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) declared a state of emergency days ago. Tons of businesses have been ordered to stay closed. The largest county in North Carolina just issued a shelter in place order and the sheriff of the second largest county says it isn’t an emergency situation. Protecting yourself and your family during a time of crisis is always an emergency situation if you don’t have the means to do it.

While Sheriff Baker may think he has the power to unilaterally suspend taking applications, state law says otherwise.

§ 14-403 of the NC General Statutes says in part:

The sheriffs of any and all counties of this State shall issue to any person, firm, or corporation in any county a permit to purchase or receive any weapon mentioned in this Article from any person, firm, or corporation offering to sell or dispose of the weapon.

§ 14-404. f. goes on to say that the sheriff after doing the requisite background check has a limited time to deny or issue the permit.

Each applicant for a license or permit shall be informed by the sheriff within 14 days of the date of the application whether the license or permit will be granted or denied and, if granted, the license or permit shall be immediately issued to the applicant.

Nothing says a sheriff can suspend taking applications because “we are too busy.”

State Senators Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Danny Britt (R-Robeson) issued a statement condemning Baker’s actions.

State law requires a sheriff to approve or reject a pistol permit within 14 days.

Sheriff Baker must immediately rescind his illegal decision to halt the sale of pistols in Wake County

People are already suspicious and on edge. It’s reckless to illegally suspend their Second Amendment rights just when they need assurance that they can trust government.

We will also be urging our colleagues in the legislature to take action during the short session to address this illegal behavior.

Justice Scalia in the Heller decision noted that “the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.” Sheriff Baker’s unilateral decision runs afoul of court precedent as well as of black letter North Carolina law.

The NRA-ILA was quick off the mark with an alert about Sheriff Baker’s actions. It can be seen here.