This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights.
Senate Dems vs. The Supreme Court
We’ve covered New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. The City of New York quite a bit in this column. There have been twists and turns along the way. But if you thought it was dramatic before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Led by Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, a group of Senate Democrats filed a brief transparently threatening the Supreme Court. This isn’t just my language either; a piece at the leftist Think Progress lauds the brief as a “declaration of war” on the Court.
The brief basically condemns the Court for doing its job and ruling on matters of public significance where Congress has overstepped its constitutional limitations. The group of senators is basically suggesting that if the Court doesn’t “heal itself” (their actual words) that, once able, they’ll pull an FDR — packing the court to reestablish a liberal majority.
Because what could possibly make the Court less political than a wave of appointments from a single political party?
House Judiciary Coming Back Early to Address Gun Control
After the string of mass murders early this month, there were calls from certain politicians to return the House and Senate from their August recess for an “emergency session” on gun control. The hope, of course, is that gun control advocates can seize political capital and public pressure fast enough to push through some measure of gun control through the Senate.
The Senate has been silent so far, but House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler on Friday announced the Committee’s early return, announcing, a propos of nothing, that “thoughts and prayers” have “never been enough.”
Still, with the Senate uninterested in breaking off their August travel plans, the move will do little but allow Nadler opportunity to tell everyone how strong and principled he is.
New Assault Weapon Ban Challenge in San Diego
A civil rights organization and three residents of San Diego filed a lawsuit this week challenging California’s assault weapon ban. The suit reasons that because earlier this year, the same court found “high capacity” magazines to be constitutionally protected, a ban that categorizes a rifle (in the instant case, a fixed magazine rife) to be a prohibited “assault weapon” solely because its magazine holds more than ten rounds cannot be constitutional either.
The logic is sound, and this breed of challenge is cutting edge. Keep your eyes on this case.
Philly Drug Bust Shootout Inexplicably Leads to Gun Control Calls
We’ve all heard of the story this week, where Philadelphia police were serving a drug warrant on a known dealer and convicted felon, and the suspect responded with gunfire. Thankfully, nobody died. Despite the atypical nature of this shootout, gun control proponents levered the incident as evidence that we need to pass gun control.
The Philadelphia Mayor and chief of police were “frustrated” with the fact that the criminal — a felon — was able to have “so much firepower,” despite the fact that it was already illegal for the suspect to have a firearm or ammunition. The clear answer, according to our anointed politicians, is to make it super-duper-double-dog illegal.
Of course, no politicians pointed out the fact that the “war on drugs” (which drugs have been winning for 48 years straight) is the root cause of an unknowably large number of incidences of street violence, driven the militarization of police, or that it accomplishes nothing but ruining countless disproportionately poor and minority lives. That would be too hard to think about.
Shortly after the Philadelphia shooting, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolfe signed an executive order creating a special gun violence task force…because that’s what you do when you want to be seen as doing something but don’t really know what that something is.
The order also created two brand new state agencies that will be tasked with telling the state legislature how badly the Governor wants new gun control laws. These new offices will, to be sure, be super-efficient and informative and not a massive waste of public funds at all.
Wisconsin Lawmakers Roll Out Universal Background Check Bill
On Thursday, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers asked state lawmakers to expand background checks. The bill was openly in response to two mass murders which were committed by people who purchased their firearms…after passing background checks.
This kind of response is possible, of course, because American politics jumped the shark eight seasons ago and nobody even really cares anymore.
The bill exempts transfers to law enforcement, military, or “gifts” between family members. Its future is not certain, but its inutility sure is. There is a rally in support of the bill planned for today. Hopefully there will be snacks, at least.
California’s Strict Gun Laws and How They’ve Affected Mass Shootings
Spoiler alert: they didn’t. An analysis released this week tracks California’s famously restrictive gun laws against the Golden State’s firearm-related violent crime. The results were overwhelmingly inconclusive. Especially when one focuses on mass shootings, which are incredibly rare.
It’s never going to be easy to study rare events, but we can see that California’s decline in violent crime has mirrored — or been less than — that of the rest of the country over the last 30 years.
Will this spell disaster for California’s never-ending gun control push? No. Nobody cares about statistics. They’re far too boring and informative.