New Jersey Backs Down

News comes this afternoon that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) has backed down from his order that all gun stores are non-essential and must close. His order led to a lawsuit from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition entitled Kashinsky v. Murphy.

SAF provides more info in this release:

The Second Amendment Foundation declare victory today when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy backed away from his earlier position on gun shop operations in the state during the current COVID-19 panic, and will now allow operations by appointment.

SAF sued Murphy and acting State Police Supt. Col. Patrick Callahan in U.S. District Court last week, seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. They were ultimately joined by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, Legacy Indoor Range and Armory LLC and the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Racing Rails LLC d/b/a Legend Firearms and several private citizens. Plaintiffs were represented by noted civil rights attorney David Jensen of New York and Adam Kraut of California.

“We’re delighted that Gov. Murphy has reversed course on this matter, even if it took a lawsuit to get him to do it,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Our lawsuit cut right to the heart of what the Second Amendment is all about, which is personal protection during emergency situations like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the nation.”

Murphy found himself in the uncomfortable, and untenable, position of having to defend his armed protection detail while having closed down Garden State gun shops, making it impossible for average citizens to by even ammunition, much less a firearm.

“While we pursue litigation elsewhere,” Gottlieb said, “we’re happy that the situation in New Jersey has changed. Regardless what some politicians might think, the Second Amendment is not subject to emergency orders, same as the First, Fourth, Fifth or other constitutional protections.

“This is one more example of SAF’s ongoing mission to win back firearms freedom, one lawsuit at a time,” he concluded.

While I might have liked to say it was ScotShot’s guest editorial that convinced him to change his mind, I think it is more likely the combination of the lawsuit and President Trump declaring the firearms industry including gun stores as essential businesses.

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.

Imagine If SAF And GRNC Hadn’t Won Bateman

Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) today declared a state of emergency that covers all of North Carolina. It was declared in response to the spread of COVID-19 or the coronavirus. As of Monday, there have been seven confirmed cases of it with six of those in Wake County and the seventh in Chatham County. For non-North Carolinians, that is Raleigh and the Pittsboro/Siler City areas.

From NC Office of Emergency Management

Excerpts from Gov. Cooper’s press release:

Governor Roy Cooper took the next step in the state’s coronavirus COVID-19 preparedness plan today and issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency. The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds…

Key provisions in the order are similar to those enacted in a natural disaster. The order will help with the cost burdens and supplies that may be difficult for providers and public health to access due to increased demand. It also increases the state public health department’s role in supporting local health departments, which have been tasked with monitoring quarantines, tracing exposure and administering testing.

Executive Order No. 116 in its entirety is found here.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane back to January 2010 when there was a heavy snow storm in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The City of King and Stokes County were particularly hard hit. In response, Gov. Beverly Perdue and both locales declared states of emergency. This automatically triggered then NC General Statute § 14-288.7(a) which provided, in part,:

“it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area: (1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or (2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.”

The City of King went further and invoked their powers under NC General Statute § 14-288.12(b). This “forbade the sale or purchase of firearms and ammunition, as well as the possession of firearms and ammunition off an individual’s premises.” It also banned the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Thus, any time a state of emergency covering all of North Carolina or any time a city or county declared a state of emergency, § 14-288.7(a) kicked in and you could not carry a firearm outside your own home. There were no exceptions made for those of us who hold a Concealed Handgun Permit.

Fast forward a few months to June and the US Supreme Court handled down a monumental Second Amendment ruling. That was, of course, McDonald v. Chicago which applied the Second Amendment as an individual right to the states under the 14th Amendment. That was on the morning of June 28, 2010.

By the close of business on June 28th, the Second Amendment Foundation and Grass Roots North Carolina with attorney Alan Gura had filed suit against the State of North Carolina, the City of King, and Stokes County for violating the Second and 14th Amendments. The case, Bateman v. Perdue, using the newly won application of the Second Amendment to the states in McDonald, directly challenged NC’s emergency powers gun bans.

To make a long story short, US District Court Judge Malcom J. Howard, using strict scrutiny found that the emergency powers gun ban did violate the Second Amendment in March 2012.

The problem here is that the emergency declaration statutes, are not narrowly tailored to serve the government’s interest in public safety. They do not target dangerous individuals or dangerous conduct. Nor do they seek to impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions by, for example, imposing a curfew to allow the exercise of Second Amendment rights during circumscribed times. Rather, the statutes here excessively intrude upon plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights by effectively banning them (and the public at large) from engaging in conduct that is at the very core of the Second Amendment at a time when the need for self-defense may be at its very greatest. See Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2799 (” [A] mericans understood the ‘right of self-preservation’ as permitting a citizen to ‘repe[l] force by force’ when ‘the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury. ‘ ” (quoting 1 Blackstone’s Commentaries 145-146, n.42 (1803) ) (second alteration in original)) . Consequently, the emergency declaration laws are invalid as applied to plaintiffs.

Session Law 2012-12 was signed by Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-NC) on June 11, 2012 and became effective on October 1, 2012. This codified the ruling by Judge Howard and repealed NC General Statutes § 14-288.7 and § 14-288.12 through § 14-288.17.

Thanks to Alan Gura, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Grass Roots North Carolina just because seven people have COVID-19 and the governor has declared a state of emergency you can no longer be disarmed. We owe them and the individual plaintiffs a debt of gratitude.

Perhaps The Locals Do Know Best

We often complain about national groups coming in and telling the locals how they should be doing it. This is usually in the context of a group like Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown, Moms Demand Action, or Giffords. However, sometimes it is our own side in the battle for gun rights that is doing this.

Such is the case in Alabama where the NRA is supporting a move to consolidate the list of pistol permit holders, that state’s nomenclature for a concealed carry permit, into a statewide database. The bills in question are HB39 and SB47. The bills provide for the permits to be standardized and issued statewide. They also provide for a lifetime carry permit.

This move is getting a mixed reaction as reported by CBS 42.

Bama Carry and the Alabama Gun Rights Network don’t always agree on the best strategies for advancing gun rights in the Heart of Dixie.

However, when I reached out to friends who are affiliated with those organizations, the response I got was virtually identical. They are opposed to the bills in their current form as they create a database of gun owners which has the potential to be abused.

My friend Beth Alcazar, the Alabama representative of the DC Project and a board member of Bama Carry, had this to say to me in a Facebook message. I’m quoting her with her permission.

At the heart of this matter (and why we are hesitant to get on board) is the fact that law abiding gun owners will be on a registry, with all information being shared, statewide, and this info. could end up on a driver license. This, of course, could cause problems traveling across state lines. What if someone is stopped or pulled over and now questioned or harassed (or searched) because of this identification? And what happens if a government body must be created to oversee this database? Currently, our permit info. is only in the hands of our sheriffs. A lifetime permit could open that up… from just local to state.

Additionally, the NRA doesn’t appear to be listening to Alabamians or to our state’s largest gun rights group, and they continue to push legislation that has potential problems or unintended consequences.

And therein lies the problem. When it is a matter of state and local politics, local activists should be listened to. That there seems to be a disconnect between local gun right rights groups and the NRA on an issue of local concern is not good. The NRA should either defer to the local groups or work to find a compromise that satisfies all gun rights groups involved.

We in North Carolina had much the same problem in 2011 concerning gun bans outside the home during periods of declared emergencies. Grass Roots North Carolina along with local plaintiffs and the Second Amendment Foundation brought Bateman v. Perdue. The NRA-ILA representative in North Carolina was pushing for a quick legislative fix that would have mooted the case. The problem with a quick legislative fix was that it could have been changed on the whim of the next General Assembly. GRNC, SAF, and local activists had to push legislators to let the court case run its path. In the end the General Assembly did that and we won a decision in Bateman declaring the gun ban unconstitutional.

I wrote back then (June 2011) that “there are some in the NRA’s hierarchy who believe the NRA has to be the be-all and end-all of all things Second Amendment.” I noted that the NRA does some things really well and others not so well. I said the NRA should concentrate on training, the legislative arena, and other areas where a mass organization can do well. I didn’t think they were nearly as good at Second Amendment litigation as SAF.

I would now modify my statement from 2011 to say that the NRA does lobbying at the national level well and should work closer with state and local groups on state level lobbying if they want to be effective. Moreover, by state and local groups I don’t mean it has to be the NRA state affiliate as the experience of non-affiliates VCDL and GRNC has shown. Whether the NRA and their state ILA representatives are wise enough to recognize this is still open to debate.

Congratulations To Charlie Cook

Charlie Cook was chosen as the 2019 Ray Carter Blogger of the Year by the Second Amendment Foundation. Charlie produces Riding Shotgun with Charlie and Charlie’s Gun Grams. Both of these can be found on YouTube.

The award is named in honor of the late Ray Carter. Ray, or Gay Cynic to use his nom de plume, worked for the Second Amendment Foundation as Director of Development. He loved blogging and blogged at Free Thinker. Ray died in 2016 after a long battle with cancer. The Minuteman had this tribute on his life.

Left to right: Rob Morse (2018), Slow Facts; John Richardson (2017), No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money; Charlie Cook; Paul Lathrop (2016) Polite Society Podcast.

Charlie may not be a blogger in the truest sense of the word but he was very deserving of this award. Despite having met Ray only once in person, I think he would approve. Charlie reaches millions with his Gun Grams and his Riding Shotgun with Charlie YouTube videos. Getting the pro-gun message out using New Media is what it is all about.

What A Coincidence

The Gun Rights Policy Conference starts on Friday evening in Phoenix. It is certainly important that all the social media accounts of sponsor Second Amendment Foundation be up and running.

It is important but yet that hasn’t stopped some nameless gnome at Twitter from suspending their account.

Dan Zimmerman at TTAG broke the story earlier today. Dan quotes Alan Gottlieb as being shocked. Alan notes that their account has never been suspended and that the timing is ” interesting that it’s happened right before the Gun Rights Policy Conference this weekend.”

My talk on Sunday at GRPC is about how we are at the mercy of the big tech oligopolies. I didn’t expect Twitter to confirm it this soon in advance.

If you have a Twitter account, you might want to tweet @jack (Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO) asking him about it. I did.

Now this all could be just a big mistake and some anti-gun Twitter techie hacked the Second Amendment Foundation account. It could be. It could also be that @Jack who was one of the CEOs who signed the letter to Mitch McConnell demanding action on “gun violence” (sic) decided that pro-2A organizations didn’t need any extra publicity.

Reactions, Pro And Con, To Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling

As you can well imagine the gun prohibitionists are ecstatic over the Connecticut Supreme Court’s constitutionally dubious ruling in Soto et al v. Bushmaster et al today. Both the Brady Campaign and the Giffords Law Center had filed amicus briefs in the case.

From the Brady Campaign which has been working hard to punch holes in the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act for many years:

Justices have reversed a lower court ruling allowing the lawsuit to move forward and put the question to a jury of whether or not Remington and gun dealers can be held accountable for its role in the 2012 shooting. The lawsuit argues that the assault-style weapon used in the massacre had knowingly been marketed to the public despite being designed for military use. It is also argued that the weapon’s marketing deliberately appealed to young people, particularly those like the 20-year-old who killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut.


“This is a good day for justice and for victims of gun violence everywhere,” stated Brady President, Kris Brown. “The law requires everyone, particularly businesses, to operate in a way that will not cause foreseeable harm. It’s time for gun companies to be held to this same standard, and stop being allowed to put profits over people. Brady stands ready to continue our support of Sandy Hook families in their quest for justice.”


For 30 years Brady’s legal team has led the way in winning precedent setting cases that hold gun companies accountable for their role in gun crimes. These cases are reining in and challenging gun industry protection laws, and include a negligent marketing claim against the maker of an assault weapon used in a mass shooting in 1993. This case was discussed at length in today’s decision. Brady’s team provided advice and counsel to the Sandy Hook lawyers throughout the case, also filing an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs.


“We are happy that the Sandy Hook families will get the day in court they deserve. Companies that choose to market weapons of war to the public should not get a free pass from the duty to use the reasonable care that every other person or business must follow,” stated Brady’s VP of Legal, Jon Lowy. “It is unfortunate that the gun industry’s special protection law forced these grieving families to endure years of appeals to get what should be rightfully theirs — their day in court and an opportunity to prove their case. Thankfully this court recognized that if you unreasonably market weapons of war to the public, you can be held accountable for the consequences.”

Reader of this blog know that not one military in the world has adopted the semi-automatic AR-15 or its progeny for use. Calling it a “weapon of war” and “designed for military use” is an outright lie and both Brown and Lowy know it.

Likewise, the Cult of Personality’s Legal Arm otherwise known as Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has weighed in on the ruling with a comment from Adams Skaggs who is their chief counsel.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the families of Sandy Hook and a victory for the principle that no industry is above the law or above accountability. The Connecticut Supreme Court squarely rejected the idea that any industry, no matter how powerful, can slam the courthouse doors shut to the victims of their illegal marketing practices. Now, these families who suffered so much will have the day in court they rightly deserve. We look forward to working with them as this case moves forward, and to supporting all victims of American gun violence as they pursue justice.”

Understandably, those who stand for the rule of law and the recognition that the liability for the criminal misuse of any legal product lies with the criminal were not pleased with this ruling.

Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation responded strongly saying, in part:

“This ruling strains logic, if not common sense,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The court dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit’s allegations, but appears to have grasped at this single straw by deciding that the advertising is somehow at fault for what did that day in December more than six years ago.


“This is like suing Ford or General Motors because a car they sold was stolen and used to run over a pedestrian all because the car manufacturers advertised that their car had better acceleration and performance than other vehicles,” he added.


, 20, first killed his mother and took her legally-purchased Bushmaster rifle to the school, where he murdered 20 youngsters and six adults. The lawsuit contends that Remington’s advertising was designed to glorify the Bushmaster rifle and enhance its appeal to younger consumers.

Justice Richard Palmer, writing for the majority, said that the “regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the state’s police powers.”


“That is absurd in this case,” Gottlieb observed. “Did the advertising even remotely suggest that the Bushmaster is best for murdering people? It appears to me like the court was looking for a way to squeak around the provisions of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that Congress passed in 2005. After all, the court dismissed most of the allegations, but now has decided that advertising might be at fault. That’s a stretch of credulity worthy of surgical elastic.”


“There is no evidence the killer was driven by any advertising whatsoever,” he said. “This is an affront to the First Amendment as well as the Second. Even hinting that the killer was motivated in some way by an advertising message is so far out in the weeds that it may take a map for the court to find its way back.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is located in Newtown, Connecticut and whom is the actual lobby for the firearms industry, also disagreed with the majority’s opinion in the ruling. While a bit more circumspect that the SAF’s comment, it still expresses their displeasure.

NEWTOWN, Conn. – The Connecticut Supreme Court today reversed (4-3) a state Superior Court ruling and decided in Soto v. Bushmaster that the case can go forward based on the plaintiffs’ allegation that the defendants marketing and advertising of a legal product somehow violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The Court’s split decision held that CUTPA fit within an exemption to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that permits lawsuits where the defendant violated a statute applicable to the sale of firearms. In a strongly worded and well-reasoned dissent, Chief Justice Robinson rejected the majority’s overly broad interpretation of the scope of the limited exception, which is contrary to legislative text, canons of statutory interpretation and the legislative history of the PLCAA. The majority’s decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception. As the trade association for the firearms industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation® filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants in this case and both respectfully disagrees with and is disappointed by the court’s majority decision.

Finally, from what I can tell from an internet search, neither Cerberus Capital Management nor Remington Outdoor Company have issued statements.

Standing United

The Second Amendment community is like a family. We may squabble amongst ourselves but unite when we are attacked by outsiders. This latest release from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms illustrates that. It takes aim at attempts by House Democrats to cripple the National Rifle Association through multiple investigations.

BELLEVUE, WA – Reports that the National Rifle Association is being engulfed in what one publication described as “a rapidly expanding tangle of congressional investigations” raise an important question that nobody has been asking: Is this a deliberate effort by anti-gun-rights Congressional Democrats to overwhelm the organization’s leadership and prevent NRA from fulfilling its mission to protect the Second Amendment?

That’s what the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms are wondering as House Democrats are pressing their gun control agenda.

“According to The Trace, which is funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Congress has launched six investigations of the NRA,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “With Democrats in control of the House, promising to push a full slate of gun control measures, that seems just a little curious.”

Gottlieb, who also chairs the CCRKBA, said it is fair to question an avalanche of investigations involving the NRA at a time when its attention should be focused squarely on renewed efforts to erode the Second Amendment.

“Are these investigations legitimate,” Gottlieb wondered, “or are they a deliberately choreographed attempt to distract the NRA’s focus when it needs to be concentrating on the battle now developing on Capitol Hill?

“We’ve been delighted to work with NRA on a number of efforts,” he continued, “including our successful lawsuits against the 2005 post-Katrina gun grab in New Orleans, the San Francisco gun ban, our joint challenge of Seattle’s attempted parks gun ban and our ongoing federal lawsuit against a gun control initiative in Washington State. So, when we see this kind of congressional onslaught at the same time Beltway anti-gunners are trying to ram through an aggressive gun control agenda, let’s just say our radar is up.”

Gottlieb said that if there are legitimate issues, they need to be explained to the nation’s 100 million gun owners.

“Otherwise,” he observed, “all of this may amount to a lot of smoke and mirrors designed to not simply distract NRA but to discredit it in the eyes of its members, supporters and allies when we all should be working together to defend our fundamental rights at a time when they are under unceasing attack.”

I agree with Alan that this is “curious” at a time when more and more gun control bills are being introduced in Congress. Indeed, I read a bill this morning that would put any semi-automatic rifle including Ruger 10/22s capable of accepting a magazine under the purview of the National Firearms Act. 

Linton V. Becerra – Another Second Amendment Lawsuit Against California

Chad Linton and Paul McKinley Stewart had screwed up in their younger days, paid their debt to society, and went on to lead lives in California as good, productive citizens. More importantly to our discussion here, the relevant courts in both Washington State and Arizona had explicitly expunged their non-violent felony convictions and explicitly restored their rights to own, possess, and purchase firearms. They further underwent multiple background and fingerprint checks and Linton actually had purchased firearms in California in the past. However, that is not good enough for California now. When they each went to purchase firearms starting in 2015, they were turned down the California Department of Justice and its Bureau of Firearm based upon Cal. Pen. Code §§ 29800 and §§ 30305.

Messrs. Linton and Stewart along with institutional plaintiffs the Firearms Policy Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Second Amendment Society, the Calguns Foundation, and the Madison Society Foundation filed suit in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, December 20th. The parties are represented by attorney George M. Lee of Seiler, Epstein, Ziegler & Applegate of San Francisco. They named California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Acting Chief of the Bureau of Firearms Martin Horan, and Deputy Attorney General Robert Wilson as defendants.

Mr. Linton was stationed at NAS Whidbey Island when he was stopped for a DUI and trying to elude police. He pled guilty and was sentenced to time served (7 days) and probation with the promise that his felony conviction would be downgraded to a misdemeanor if he completed his probation successfully which he did. He received a certificate of discharge stating that all of his civil rights were restored. Fast forward from 1987 to 2015. Mr. Linton attempted to buy a handgun but was denied by the State of California due to the prior felony. He hired an attorney in Washington State to reopen the proceedings, withdraw his guilty plea, and enter a not-guilty plea. The Superior Court in Washington State vacated his prior conviction, set aside his guilty plea, and restored his rights.

On April 18, 2016, the Superior Court of the State of Washington, Island County,
further issued, upon Plaintiff’s petition, an Order Restoring Right to Possess Firearms pursuant
to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.41.040(4). A copy of this order is attached as Exhibit
B. As part of that petition, and order, the court found that Plaintiff Linton was qualified,
pursuant to RCW 9.41.040(4), to have the right to possess firearms restored to him, and
accordingly, ordered “that Petitioner Chad Linton’s civil rights and right to possess firearms are
FULLY RESTORED
pursuant to RCW 9.41.040(4).” (Id.) The court further ordered the
Washington State Patrol to transmit a copy of its Order to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

When later in 2016 Linton attempted to purchase a rifle the California DOJ denied it and sent him a letter stating that he was ineligible due to being a felon. His California attorney made multiple requests to the California DOJ to clear up the matter and provided them with the Washington State court orders. Linton assumed the matter had been cleared up when he went to purchase a revolver and was again denied. Soon thereafter he was visited by agents of the California DOJ’s Armed Prohibited Persons System enforcement project who seized all of his firearms including a family heirloom. Bear again in mind that he was not a prohibited person under either Washington State or Federal law. Indeed Deputy AG Robert Wilson went so far as to say that they would not honor the Washington State court’s findings and that Mr. Linton try to get a presidential pardon as that is the only thing they would accept.

Mr. Stewart made similar successful efforts to get his record expunged by the State of Arizona. In 2016 the Yuma County Superior Court specifically sent aside his conviction and restored his firearm rights. The Arizona Department of Public Safety sent Stewart more documentation indicating the felony conviction had been set aside and his records had been corrected. Notwithstanding this, like Mr. Linton, he was denied when he sought to purchase a firearm.

Count One alleges the state has violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the Second Amendment by denying them the right to possess firearms in their home for self-defense.

Notwithstanding the non-violent nature of those
convictions, and the subsequent restoration of plaintiffs’ rights, the laws and Defendants’
policies, practices, and customs described herein, as applied to Individual Plaintiffs, amount to a
total and permanent deprivation of their fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and
ammunition, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, and are therefore an infringement upon
those rights. The circumstances surrounding the Individual Plaintiffs’ convictions are therefore
and should be distinguishable from those persons that have been historically excluded from the right to keep and bear arms.

Count Two states that the defendants’ actions violate the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution. Both the Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court decisions require each state to honor the valid judgments of courts in other states. The Supreme Court said in 1998 in Baker by Thomas v. General Motors Corp, that “A final judgment in one State, if rendered by a court with adjudicatory authority over the
subject matter and persons governed by the judgment, qualifies for recognition throughout the
land.”

The third and final count states that California is violating both the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2 and the 14th Amendment, Section 1. California law provides a process whereby someone convicted of a “wobbler” felony can get his or her firearms rights restored. A wobbler felony is one where the person could have been charged with either a felony or misdemeanor for the offense. If the person gets the felony downgraded to a misdemeanor under Pen. Code § 17(b), they would also be eligible to get their record expunged in its entirety under Pen. Code § 1203.4. Both would allow the person in question to have their firearms rights restored.

However, the State of California will only honor the reduction of these qualifying
felony convictions utilizing the statutes and the process described above. As shown throughout
this complaint, California refuses to honor the comparable process utilized by other states,
including the States of Washington and Arizona, shown above, even where the courts of those
jurisdictions expressly have set aside the felony convictions and have restored firearms rights to
such persons who have successfully completed their terms of probation. Accordingly, Defendants’ refusal to honor the set-aside or vacation of those felony convictions, and/or
restoration of firearm rights, by courts of those other states, amounts to unlawful discrimination,
favoring California’s citizens, since persons convicted of felonies in other states, in essence, have
no actual means to seek judicial restoration of their firearms rights here, or otherwise comparable
to the process of reduction under those mechanisms (including Pen. Code § 17(b)) described
above.

In essence, what you have is California saying that they will treat their restoration of rights as legitimate while that of other states as illegitimate for the purposes of firearms rights.

The plaintiffs are seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief under all counts as as applied to themselves and to others similarly situated. Of course, they are also seeking attorneys’ fees.

I’m not a judge nor a lawyer but if I had to hazzard a guess this will case will be decided on the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause. While it is obviously a denial of Second Amendment rights, the courts will go for the low-hanging fruit of Counts Two and Three.

SAF And NRA File Joint Suit Against Washington State Over I-1639

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The Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association have joined together to challenge parts of the recently passed Washington State Initiative 1639 in a federal lawsuit. The initiative contained a laundry list of gun control measures including a definition of an assault weapon (sic) that would include Ruger 10/22s, raised the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, specified waiting periods, enacted a safe storage provision, includes a $25 tax on each semi-automatic rifle sold, requires law enforcement to verify annually that owners of handguns and semi-auto rifles are legally allowed to own them, and it includes a training requirement.

The initiative was funded in great part by billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, Nick Hanauer, and the late Paul Allen. The goal, while not state overtly, is to kill out the gun culture in Washington State by making it so onerous and creating such a slippery slope that casual gun owners will just give up. You can hear some thoughts on this from a Washington State resident in Episode 308 of The Squirrel Report podcast.

The lawsuit, Mitchell et al v. State of Washington et al, was filed on Wednesday in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. It is a complaint for both a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief based upon a claim of violations of the Commerce Clause, and the 2nd and 14th Amendment.

The plaintiffs are firearms dealers Daniel Mitchell and Robin Ball, 19 year old competitive shooter Luke Rettmer who is a member of the US Long Range Rifle Under 21 team, 19 year old Army reservist and college student Nathaniel Casey, and recreational shooters Armen Tooloee and Matthew Wald who are 20 and 19 years old respectively. The Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association are the organizational plaintiffs in the case.

The lawsuit focuses in on four aspects of I-1639 which goes into effect, in part, on January 1, 2019 with the remainder going into effect on July 1, 2019. First, it challenges Section 12 of the Initiative’s ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to out-of-state residents on the grounds it “impermissibly burdens interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, Art. I § 8 cl. 3.”

Secondly, the lawsuit challenges Section 13 of the Initiative which raises the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21. It seeks a declaration that “by preventing the sale to otherwise qualified adults under age 21 of certain rifles, impermissibly burdens their exercise of rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.” They are making this claim on behalf of both the Young Adult Plaintiffs and the Organizational Plaintiffs. It is asserted that no state interest justifies this infringement and that the ban is broader than needed to serve any “possible alleged governmental interest.”

Thirdly, the lawsuit contends that the Section 13 of the Initiative “impermissably burdens” the rights guaranteed to the Young Adult Plaintiffs under Article I Section 24 of the Washington Constitution.

Finally, the lawsuit says that the intention of Washington State Attorney General Robert Ferguson to enforce the provisions of I-1639 and will be acting under “color of law”. Thus, Ferguson will be depriving “plaintiffs of civil rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The plaintiffs seek to have the challenged portions of I-1639 declared unconstitutional and to enjoin enforcement of the entire I-1639 unless the challenged parts are ruled severable, and if so, then enforcement of the challenged parts.

The complaint in its entirety can be found here.

Both the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association have issued releases regarding this lawsuit.

Alan Gottlieb of SAF had this to say:

“We are also considering additional legal challenges,” SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb confirmed. “We are disappointed that too many Evergreen State voters were fooled into supporting this 30-page gun control scheme, despite overwhelming law enforcement opposition. This initiative is an affront to the constitutional rights enshrined in the Second Amendment and the Washington state constitution, especially for young adults.

“We’re determined to fight this egregious measure because constitutionally-protected rights should never be subject to a popularity vote,” he stated. “The wealthy elitists behind I-1639 want to turn a right into a regulated privilege. This measure was only designed to have a chilling effect on the exercise of a constitutional right by honest citizens while having no impact at all on criminals, and we cannot let it go unchallenged.”

Chris Cox of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action had similar comments:

“The NRA is committed to restoring the Second Amendment rights of every law-abiding Washingtonian,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA¹s Institute for Legislative Action. “I-1639 violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts people at risk. This lawsuit is the first step in the fight to ensure that Washingtonians are free to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense.”…



“The NRA will fight to overturn this unconstitutional initiative. We will not sit idly by while elitist anti-gun activists attempt to deny everyday Americans their fundamental right to self-defense,” concluded Cox.

I, for one, am quite pleased to see the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifles Association working together on this lawsuit and not competing with one another for bragging rights. This is the way it should be.