SF Gun Case May Be Heading For Supreme Court

More than a dozen Second Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a high-profile challenge to a San Francisco gun-control measure.

Led by the Firearms Policy Coalition, gun groups say the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in its decision to uphold San Francisco’s safe-storage law.

Under the ordinance implemented in 2007, the city “requires all residents who keep handguns in their homes for self-defense to stow them away in a lock box or disable them with a trigger lock whenever they are not physically carrying them on their persons.”

The groups referenced the 2007 case before the U.S. Supreme Court, District of Columbia vs. Heller, which upheld an individual right to “keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment.

“The court should grant certiorari to reaffirm key principles concerning the scope and substance of the Second Amendment,” the groups wrote in their amicus brief. “Many lower courts have taken great pains to avoid the consequences of these decisions — defying a fundamental constitutional limitation this court made explicit in Heller. … At the forefront of this resistance is the lower courts’ refusal to follow this court’s command, made in Heller and reiterated in McDonald, that Second Amendment claims are not to be judged by unrestrained judicial interest balancing.”

Gun groups point to Heller decision

Last March, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the local restrictions on gun ownership, finding that gun storage mandates save lives.

“The record contains ample evidence that storing handguns in a locked container reduces the risk of both accidental and intentional handgun-related deaths, including suicide,” Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote in the ruling for the panel. She added that gun safes “may be readily accessed in case of an emergency.”

San Francisco wikimediaSecond Amendment groups have focused their arguments on the legal precedents, arguing that San Francisco’s regulations contradict the Heller decision, as well as McDonald vs. Chicago in 2009, which held the Second Amendment also applied to state laws.

“The Ninth Circuit’s lamentable decision in Jackson shows why it is the most overturned circuit court in the nation,” said Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs, one of the state’s leading gun rights activists. “The Supreme Court should take up this case not only to correct a clear wrong, but to stem the tide of judicial resistance in recognizing the right to keep and bear arms as fundamental Constitutional rights.”

He added, “The Second Amendment doesn’t protect second-class rights, and it’s time for courts to take the enumerated right to keep and bear arms at least as seriously as they do unenumerated rights like abortion.”

Other gun groups that have joined the Firearms Policy Coalition in filing the friend-of-the-court brief include the Second Amendment Foundation, the Calguns Foundation, Firearms Policy Foundation and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.

San Francisco City Attorney has “faith in the judiciary”

Six San Francisco residents, with the help of the National Rifle Association and the San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association, first challenged the safe storage law in 2009. The case underscores the lengthy process of seeing gun-control restrictions ultimately become established law.  Long after the press conferences and publicity stunts, government attorneys struggle to defend the restrictions.

Scales of justice, wikimedia“I have complete faith in the judiciary to affirm our position that San Francisco’s gun safety laws protect the public in a manner that’s both reasonable and constitutional,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a 2013 press release on the case. “San Francisco has been a top target of the NRA for many years, and I’m proud of the efforts we’ve made to aggressively battle these legal challenges, and protect sensible gun laws that can save lives.”

As CalWatchdog.com has previously noted, the nation’s leading Second Amendment advocacy groups have begun to shift their efforts from the California Legislature to the courthouse. Since 2009, The Calguns Foundation has found great success in its legal challenges, which have targeted the implementation of concealed weapon permits and mandatory waiting periods.

A copy of the brief in the case of Espanola Jackson, et al. vs. City and County of San Francisco, et al., can be viewed at the Firearms Policy Coalition’s website.

Originally published at CalWatchdog.com

CA Gun Dealers Challenge Handgun Ad Ban

 

 

gun wikimedia SIG pro semi-automatic pistolSecond Amendment advocates say California is infringing on their First Amendment rights.

On Monday, four California gun dealers filed a federal lawsuit challenging a nearly century-old law that bans the display of handguns in store advertisements.

Under state law, it’s perfectly legal for a gun-control supporter to use images of handguns in a protest outside of a gun store. But if a gun store were to put the same sign in its store window, it would be a violation of state law.

States California Civil Code § 26820, which was first enacted in 1923:

“No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of the premises where it can readily be seen from the outside.”

This isn’t a case of hypothetical free speech scenarios. Earlier this year, a Central Valley gun dealer was cited by the California Department of Justice for breaking the law by displaying a handgun in its window. Tracy Rifle and Pistol, the San Joaquin County firearm retailer that was cited by the Department of Justice in September, points out the obvious content-based speech restriction.

“I run one of the most heavily regulated and inspected businesses in existence, but it’s still illegal for me to show customers that I sell handguns until after they walk in the door,” said Michael Baryla, the owner of Tracy Rifle and Pistol. “That’s about as silly a law as you could imagine, even here in California.”

Gun stores speak out

One Fresno gun dealer and plaintiff in the case, PRK Arms, told KMPH Fox 26 News’ Erika Cervantes that the lack of proper signage can be confusing for customers.

“We actually get quite a few calls throughout the week from people asking if we sell handguns,” Elijah Smedley, the store’s general manager, told KMPH. “If you look around, there’s plenty of them here. The product itself is not illegal in any way, so why should advertising be illegal?”

Smedley pointed out the obvious double standard.

“You can advertise for just about anything else that you sell,” he said. “There’s grow shops, there’s dirty magazine stores, there’s all kinds of things out there that you can advertise for the exact item you’re selling. Yet, for some reason, handguns are taboo.”

First Amendment scholars join case

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on the First Amendment, has joined the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Free Speech movement Berkeley“The government generally may not ban advertising of lawful products — indeed, of constitutionally protected products — on the grounds that such advertising is offensive, or stimulates consumer interest in such products,” Volokh explained on his legal blog at the Washington Post.

In addition to a double standard for gun owners and gun control advocates, there’s a double standard for weapons. In California, it’s legal for gun dealers to display images of shotguns and rifles on their premises, but illegal to display an image of a handgun. The multiple content-based restriction has helped the gun dealers enlist other constitutional experts in the case, including top-notch attorneys Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay.

“The First Amendment prevents the government from telling businesses it disfavors that they can’t engage in truthful advertising,” said Bradley Benbrook, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This case follows a long line of Supreme Court cases protecting such disfavored businesses from that type of censorship.”

A spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris, the lead defendant in the case, declined to comment about it to CalWatchdog.com.

State’s clever gun rights advocates target vulnerable laws

The lawsuit is only the latest effort in a series of savvy moves by the state’s leading Second Amendment advocates. Unable to slow the endless series of new gun-control bills proposed each legislative session, the California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees, Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation have turned to lawsuits and public-records request to overturn laws. And when the mainstream media ignore their achievements, CA-FFL shares its victories directly with its nearly 40,000 Facebook fans.

In August, a federal judge ruled that California’s 10-day waiting period on gun sales violated the Second Amendment rights of certain groups of gun owners. The plaintiffs in the case were represented by Calguns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation.

2nd amendment , us govt. pictureThe group has also exploited the state’s public records law to obtain information about the uneven administration of conceal-carry permits. In 2011, Calguns Foundation believed then-San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey was failing to comply with California’s conceal-carry laws. Under state law, all agencies that have the authority to issue firearm permits must create and publish a written policy on the process. Thanks to a public records request, the group proved that the sheriff had selectively enforced the law and awarded permits to politically-connected applicants.

San Francisco wasn’t an isolated case, but a part of Calguns’ program to enforce compliance with the law. A similar 2010 request filed by Calguns with the Ventura County sheriff’s office was denied. Calguns was forced to file a lawsuit, which it won.

Whenever it can, California’s gun-rights advocates are looking to form broad-based political coalitions.

“Since we started our Carry License Initiative, Calguns Foundation has had the great pleasure of supporting and, where possible, collaborating with fantastic open government groups like the First Amendment Coalition and CalAware on matters relating to public records and meetings,” said Brandon Combs, one of the masterminds behind the effective political strategy.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com.

 

Nanny of the week: More gun control in Chicago?

Chicago is home to some of the toughest gun control rules in the country.

It’s also home to some of the most frequent gun violence in the country.

But officials in the Windy City are not giving up hope just yet — surely, one more go at tougher gun laws is all the city needs to tip the scales in the other direction and turn Chicago into a modern day Miranda, free from any and all violent thoughts or actions.

That’s why there will be not one, but two gun control issues on voters’ ballots in Cook County on Nov. 4. The first would impose stricter background checks for legal gun purchases — “legal” being the key word there, as we’ll get to in a moment — and the second would ban assault weapons.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who is also facing re-election this November, is pushing for similar laws at the state level in Illinois, though he hasn’t had much success getting the Legislature to embrace those ideas.

Quinn has tried to turn gun control into a campaign issue against Republican opponent Bruce Rauner.

As the Chicago Sun-Times noted, “Recently, Quinn’s campaign released a new online video juxtaposing TV news reports on Chicago gun violence with footage of Rauner stating he believes gun owners should be free to use assault weapons for “target practice … on their property as they choose fit.

That makes complete sense, because even though I’m no expert on gun violence in Chicago, I’m guessing legal gun owners practicing on their own property are probably responsible for a sizable portion — maybe 85 percent, I’m sure — of the 415 murders reported last year.

What? You disagree?

Politicians in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois and everywhere else can add as many layers of regulations for legal gun owners as they can dream up, but criminals who are going to use guns to commit crimes are probably not too concerned with staying inside the boundary of gun control laws.

But the nannies just keep on pushing. Democrats on the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to put the gun control measures on the ballot.

Luckily, this is one time where voters can have the final say over the nannies. Polls indicate the measures are headed for defeat in November, perhaps because voters have realized additional rules don’t make anyone safer from those who have no regard for the rules.

For their efforts, the Cook County Board of Commissioners is this week’s winner. The board members’ prize is a landslide defeat in November and a plaque with that famous quote from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”

This article was originally published on Watchdog.org

Will new gun restraining order help deter suicides?

From the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — California’s first-in-the-nation gun restraining order legislation was born out of a college-town rampage that left six people dead at the hands of a killer whose family felt helpless to stop him.

Advocates say its greatest use actually might come not in preventing headline-grabbing murderous sprees, but in helping families deal with loved ones who are in danger of taking their own lives or who might be so angry or distraught that they could turn a gun on family members.

Victims of domestic violence in California already can file for restraining orders that can include the removal of firearms.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a law that will make California the first state that lets family members ask a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat. It will also let law enforcement authorities go directly to a judge to seize guns from people they deem to be a danger, as they already can in Connecticut, Indiana and Texas.

Read the full article here

Eric Holder has a gun problem

From The Hill:

As the chief law enforcement officer Attorney General Eric Holder came out swinging in the first months of the Obama administration as he pushed to reinstate the assault weapons ban, pointing to the rising levels of violence in Mexico and increased presence of U.S. guns south of the border.

But nearly two years later assault weapons can still be bought and Holder has found himself at the center of a quagmire involving a botched gun-tracking operation that sent thousands of high-powered firearms to Mexico in the hands of known or suspected straw buyers for drug cartels.

Amid a plethora of Republican calls for Holder’s resignation, Democrats have silently indicated their support for the attorney general. Instead of taking him to task for Operation Fast and Furious, Democratic lawmakers have tried to draw attention to what they describe as the country’s weak network of gun laws.

(Read Full Article)

Democratic lawmakers say Fast and Furious proof of need for harsher gun laws

From Hot Air:

Right on cue, Democratic lawmakers have begun to say the DOJ’s lethal and irresponsible Fast and Furious program underscores the need for stricter gun control laws:

“This hunt for blame doesn’t really speak about the problem,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein at a recent Senate Judiciary hearing while discussing Fast and Furious.

“And the problem is, anybody can walk in and buy anything, .50-caliber weapons, sniper weapons, buy them in large amounts, and send them down to Mexico. So, the question really becomes, what do we do about this?”

The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) have introduced a dedicated firearms trafficking statute, but it has stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Republicans rightly have pushed back against this narrative. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) put it best when he said simply, “I get it, I’d want to change the subject too if I were them. I’m happy to have a conversation about broader gun laws, but we’re going to do it after Fast and Furious.”

(Read Full Article)