If you’re only watching the action in Washington, you’re missing out.
While the forces of the evil Baron von Bloomberg and the Dark Lord LaPierre (depending on your preferences) skirmish over the national headlines, the real action is at the state level.
Let’s start with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling in the Soto v. Bushmaster International case. The 4–3 ruling remanding the case to the lower court is sparking lots of talk. At issue is the court’s ruling that the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA) is in compliance with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). In other words, the court said the case can proceed to the discovery phase, but made no ruling on whether the lawsuit has merit.
While pundits weigh in on one side or the other, this might simply be a matter of the Connecticut court discretely punting the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.
From the Connecticut court’s point of view, anything the Supreme Court does is a win. There are three outcomes of a Supreme Court appeal: the court declines to grant certiorari, in which case the Connecticut ruling stands; the court hears the case and affirms the ruling, leaving the Connecticut ruling intact and setting a precedent; the court hears the case and reverses, in which case the Connecticut court and other state and federal courts have a precedent for this kind of case in the future.
On to lighter stuff: In Hawaii, state senators Stanley Chang, (D-SD 9), Karl Rhoads (D-SD 13), Rosalyn Baker (D-SD 6), Dru Mamo Kanuha (D-DS 3)and Laura Thielen (D-SD 25), have introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 42. SCR 42 says that the Second Amendment is confusing and asks for Congress to either clarify or repeal it.
The senators say that the Second Amendment has been interpreted by the courts as protecting an individual right and as only protecting a collective right, which is satisfied by the National Guard. They make the claim that the opinion written by Antonin Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller was an aberration that contradicted previous rulings. In support, they cite the 1939 opinion written by Associate Justice James McReynolds in United States v. Miller.
What makes SCR 42 such a joke is the fact there have been exactly no Supreme Court decisions, dating back to United States v. Cruikshank in 1875, that said the Second Amendment protected anything other than an individual right. Even in the Miller decision, McReynolds never implied that the Second Amendment didn’t protect an individual right; he just said that it didn’t protect the ownership of sawed-off shotguns.
Of course, Hawaii is already in hot water over the Second Amendment. Their permit law has already been declared unconstitutional by a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial District. The state is hoping for a reversal from an en banc review but Young v. Hawaii is likely headed for the Supreme Court.
One has to wonder why the state legislators didn’t simply ask their federal representatives to file a bill calling for a new amendment? Or try to organize a constitutional convention by getting two-thirds of the states to sign on?
On the other side, Missouri Representative Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering) has introduced HB 1108, the McDaniel Militia Act, which would require the nearly 1.4 million residents of the state older than 18 and younger than 35 to own an AR-15 or a rifle based on the ArmaLite design. Of course, the residents would have to be legally able to own a firearm and those that didn’t already own an AR-15 would be given up to a year to get one. There would even be a non-refundable state tax credit of up to 75% of the gun’s costs to defray the expense. McDaniel, a former deputy sheriff, has also filed HB 1052, the McDaniel Second Amendment Act, which would require all Missouri residents 21 years of age and older to own a handgun of at least .22 caliber.
The key difference between McDaniel’s legislative proposals and the Hawaii resolution is McDaniel not only doesn’t expect his legislation to pass, he doesn’t even expect it to advance.
“The other side of the aisle loves mandates, so I’m trying to get them to make an argument against mandates,” McDaniel said in an AP interview.
Texas Senate Bill 378, introduced by Bob Hall, the senator from Texas district 2 east of Dallas, is a bit more serious. Hall’s bill calls for establishing Texas as a Second Amendment sanctuary state. This means that the state, all 254 counties and every city, town or hamlet in the state would be prohibited from using government personnel or money to enforce federal gun laws that were different or more restrictive than state laws.
Second Amendment sanctuaries have been in the news from time to time. Various counties and towns have passed resolutions saying they are opposed to some of the new laws being passed at the state level. Most of these are protests in principle, with no legal impact, but a growing number of county sheriffs are refusing to enforce laws they regard as unconstitutional. This is the case not only in states where it would be expected, but in states like New York.
Last November, eight counties in Oregon took it up a notch. Voters in those counties approved enactments of official sanctuary county laws that prohibit the use of county resources to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional by the sheriff.
There’s nothing in either the Texas or Oregon measures that openly defies the federal or state laws. They just require that the federal or state governments use their own funds and personnel to enforce them.
Background check blues: Vermont’s new universal background check law has run into a snag: It can’t be implemented.
In a letter to state Senator Richard Sears and state Representative Maxine Grad, Christopher Herrick, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, said that Vermont State Police do not have access to the FBI’s NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) records. The VSP could only check Vermont records, which were insufficient to meet the requirements.
This is what happened in Nevada a few years ago. After winning a statewide referendum, the Nevada legislature passed a bill crafted with the help of Baron von Bloomberg.
Once again, the FBI informed state authorities that they were not a point-of-contact for NICS inquiries, so it would not perform them.
Rather than admit their error, BvB partisans accused the governor and attorney general of blocking implementation of the new law and filed a lawsuit. A Nevada court ruled that the state cannot enact a law with which it is legally impossible to comply. The Nevada legislature has had to try again during its current session.
You might see some sanctuary action in Nevada; the universal background check referendum passed in just one of Nevada’s 16 counties. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, is Nevada’s largest county by population and was the only county that passed the referendum.
Florida state Representative Mike Hill withdrew HB 175 which called for the repeal of the measures passed in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. No reason was given for the action.
South Dakota, Oklahoma and Kentucky became the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth Constitutional Carry carry states, respectively. Nearly a third of U.S. states no longer require citizens to have a permit to carry handguns in whatever manner they choose, openly or concealed.
It’s still in the early stages of this year’s action in the gun wars. The battle lines are pretty much the same as last year and the opening legislative volleys have been fired (or filed).