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Y’all know about the SCOTUS decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, issued last June. Commonly known as “Bruen”’, it literally changed everything for our community.
I did a podcast on Bruen, but if you haven’t caught it yet, Bruen didn’t didn’t stop at tossing out some state laws that required citizens to show an extraordinary need to be able to carry and then left it up to officials to decide if that need was sufficient to issue a permit.
As big a deal as it was to see the end of “may issue, ” of greater importance is that the opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas changed the way that the lower courts have to evaluate 2A cases.
No more two-step; no more interest-balancing: Text as informed by history and tradition is now the only acceptable level and there is an emphasis on the understanding of the Second Amendment in the Late 18th Century and 19th Century. Since most of the gun control laws we have today date from the 20th Century, they are fair game for challenges – and the challenges are .
Since Bruen, we’ve had the Pittman decision – which I’ve already written about – that says that you don’t have to be 21 to carry a handgun in Texas. While that’s going to be appealed, according to a late September filing, based on a thorough reading of Judge Pittman’s opinion and the new standards issued under Bruen, I expect the ruling will stand.
Further changes in our world have already come and there will be more! Here’s some examples:
In West Virginia, a district court struck down the prohibition on possessing a firearm with the serial number removed. The judge wasn’t happy with his ruling, saying that serial numbers were helpful for police, but the new standard of scrutiny doesn’t allow for that. I want to take a moment to comment on the fact that when our forefathers established this country there was no such thing as serial numbers and yet there were still murders and armed robberies,
A federal judge in West Texas said that being under indictment for a felony is not sufficient to allow a prohibition on the possession of firearms. This is actually in accordance with the Fifth Amendment’s requirement for due process as well as the fundamental tenet of our system of justice, that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. For those of you who are not familiar with “indictments”, that only means that the evidence is sufficient for a trial NOT that you are guilty.
One of the biggest changes is the likely end to bans on standard-capacity magazines and modern sporting rifles. Despite the President’s unhealthy obsession with bans, the fact remains that rifles like the AR-15, or semiautomatic rifles in general, meet the requirements for Second Amendment protection set by the Supreme Court in United States v. Miller and District of Columbia v. Heller. Ironically, Bianchi v. Frosh, where Maryland’s ban was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, was partly based on the fact the restricted rifles looked like military firearms so the court said they could be banned – in spite of the 1939 Miller ruling, which said arms useful in militia service were the only firearms the Second Amendment protected.
Just a few days after the Bruen decision was delivered, the Supreme Court vacated the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Bianchi and sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit to review in light of the Bruen decision.
The Bruen decision also played a major role in two rulings from U.S. district court judges in Colorado. New gun bans in Superior and Boulder County were ruled unconstitutional almost as soon as they had been enacted. More wins for law-abiding gun owners in a post-Bruen world!
The Supreme Court also vacated and remanded two cases involving magazines, Duncan v. Bonta from California and Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs v. Bruck from the Garden State.
Bottom line? As the song goes “the times they are a-changin’” and it’s to the benefit of all of us who believe in and support the Constitution and of course, specifically the Second Amendment. The courts move slowly so there will be a part 2 to this series when we have more to update you on. But you can bet we will be moving in a more Constitutional direction.
And isn’t it high time?