This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. For a deeper dive into the topics discussed here, check out this week in gun rights at FPC.
Injunction WON in Suit Over Pennsylvania’s “Ghost Gun” Ban
This week, Judge P. Kevin Brobson of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court issued a 17-page opinion and order enjoining Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick and his agents, servants, and officers “from implementing or enforcing PSP’s new policy addressed to partially manufactured receivers,” AKA Pennsyvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s unlawful “ghost gun” ban.
Mere days after Shapiro’s ‘legal opinion’ was published, FPC filed a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to stop the PSP from enforcing the extralegal policy. That injunction was granted, and upon completion of a formality on Monday, will be in effect.
According to the court, the “indefiniteness of PSP’s new enforcement policy on what constitutes a firearm in this Commonwealth creates the potential for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement… The public policy of this Commonwealth does not favor such vague laws.”
The Court wrote that while there “are many ills that our society faces, and government can be an effective force in combatting them,” the “laudable intentions and policy goals of a government agency, however, cannot override limits on governmental power. Simply put, the ends cannot justify the means.”
This is but one step in the battle and Shapiro has already indicated that he will keep up his crusade against the Constitution and the rights of the people of Pennsylvania. Still, in our field, we’re happy to break out the champagne whenever possible.
Bloomberg to Run Anti-Gun Ad During the Super Bowl
The ad — which avoids or misrepresents a number of facts — is said to follow the story of Calandrian Simpson Kemp, whose son was shot to death in Texas in 2013. The ad will feature Kemp heaping praise on the billionaire, saying that she now feels she has a “dog in the fight” (you can’t make that crap up).
Texas Church Hero Rebuffed by Bloomberg Lackey
Grabbing dogs by the head and shaking them. Very relatable, Mike! pic.twitter.com/6uye5iwgkm
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 29, 2020
Jack Wilson, the man who stopped a shooter in a Texas church this past December, expressed criticism of Mike Bloomberg’s comprehensive gun restriction plan earlier this week. Mr. Wilson pointed out that if his church had been subject to Bloomberg’s gun restrictions, they would have been wanting in their time of need.
In response, one of Bloomberg’s spokeswomen (I assume he was indisposed, muzzle-throttling another helpless pooch) responded that civilians shouldn’t be permitted to have firearms in crowded spaces and that, under a Bloomberg administration, the shooter wouldn’t have been armed in the first place.
“It may be true that someone in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot,” the former mayor said at the time, adding, “You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.”
Virginia House Democrats Vote to Table Law Protecting Victims
“But think of the children!” shouted none of the Democrats sitting on the Virginia House Public Safety Committee as they voted 6 – 2 last week to table a bill that would allow people to sue the government for gunshot injuries resulting from disarming in “gun free zones.”
This session, several bills were authored by Virginia Republicans which would have waived state immunity from lawsuits and would have required government institutions to carry insurance to compensate victims of shootings in areas the government prohibits self-defense. None of them have made it off the launch pad.
On the other hand . . .
Virginia House of Delegates Passes Several Anti-2A Bills
This Thursday the Virginia House of Delegates voted to pass the following pro-gun control bills along mostly partisan lines. Here’s a brief summary:
House Bill 2, which passed 54 – 46, regulates private transfer of firearms between family members and friends, basically setting up a universal background check.
House Bill 9, which passed 55-45, requires gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 24 hours. This law unnecessarily criminalizes delayed reporting; in a scenario such as a home fire or flood, when whether a firearm is lost cannot be determined, owners may be unfairly prosecuted. Further, laws of this nature haven’t been shown to affect most, if any, violent crime.
House Bill 421, which passed 50-48, permits local governments to surpass the sort of draconian gun control laws Virginia Democrats are currently pushing at a state level. And because this legislation only allows towns and cities to increase regulation and not to relax it, it can only work to harm the rights of Virginians living in these locations. This is exactly the kind of outcome we fought Pittsburgh to prevent.
House Bill 674, which passed 52 – 46, is the bill authored by the Gentleman Democrat from District 12 who enjoys buzzed driving. This bill is a red flag law that allows a secret court to issue an order to seize your firearms without due process based solely on claims from law enforcement and other individuals who may (read: probably don’t) have your best interest at heart. Laws like these are blatantly unconstitutional and they are frequently abused. To read more about why we oppose laws like these, click here.
Last, but not least, we have House Bill 812 (passed 53 – 47), which limits handgun purchases to one per month, and House Bill 1083 (passed 54 – 46), which prevents parents from leaving firearms accessible for dependents under the age of 18 while they are unsupervised.
HB 812 is clearly a “do something” measure – it has no practical purpose aside from punishing collectors (we’re pretty sure you only have two hands, so we don’t know why they felt the need to limit the number of handguns you can buy), but it gives hoplophobes a “warm and fuzzy” feeling.
HB 1083 on the other hand, over-broadly criminalizes choices made by parents. One can imagine a parent, after training and teaching their child about gun safety and handling, feeling their teenager is of sufficient maturity to be trusted with access to a gun. Time and time again it’s been shown that such access saves lives. While it may not be appropriate for all families, a blanket prohibition is senseless.
Virginia Democrats Propose Law Restricting the First Amendment
James Madison said “our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.”
A recent proposal, HB 1627, modifies a current law to make threats, insults, or the use of “lascivious” language a crime if used to harass the governor, lieutenant governor, employees or members of the state legislature, or judges. Not only would it be illegal to make these expressions in person, but lawmakers want to criminalize them even if they are made online.
Why? Because they don’t want to defend their policies or face any sort of damning criticism, that’s why.
HB 1627 is unconstitutional on its face because it severely curtails the right of citizens to criticize their government, a practice particularly intended when the Founders drafted the First Amendment. After all, Jefferson, another son of Virginia, wouldn’t have discussed refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants if he were opposed to simple prodding of public officials in the public square.
Maybe my optimism is misplaced (it probably is), but I hope that Delegate Jeffrey M. Bourne (D – House District 71), will have enough sense to withdraw such a ridiculous bill.
Nearly 200 People in New Jersey Have Had Their Firearms Seized Under Red Flag Law
From September 1, 2019 to January 22 of this year, 186 Extreme Risk Protection Orders have been issued. That’s 186 seizures over 143 days, or an average of 1.3 seizures per day.
Under the New Jersey statute, ERPO orders can be sought by police, family members, or cohabitants, and to obtain one, a judge merely has to find “good cause.” Over this time period, only 25 requests were denied, which leads me to wonder whether judges have substituted “due process” with “better safe than sorry.”
Oklahoma Lawmaker Introduces Bill Permitting Carry on Campus
For some decent news, state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), in conjunction with Oklahoma’s Second Amendment Association, has authored a bill which would permit concealed carry of handguns on campus in The Sooner State. In order to do so, individuals would first need to complete some training and obtain a carry license.
This bill would supersede current law, which affords discretion to school administrations to determine who is worthy of the right to carry arms on campus.
Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at the Firearms Policy Coalition.