San Francisco Court: 2nd Amendment Grants Right to Carry Guns Openly

Gun Open CarryAmericans have a constitutional right to carry guns openly outside the home, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday on an issue that has divided federal courts and is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case from Hawaii may not last long — it was written by one of the court’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, whose previous decision striking down a California concealed-weapons law was overturned by the court’s liberal majority. But it highlights a Second Amendment issue the high court has sidestepped since 2008, when it ruled for the first time that the Constitution guarantees the right to possess a handgun at home for self-defense.

Supreme Court intervention in the open-carry issue appears likelier with the widening split among lower courts — three federal appeals courts have found no right to carry guns openly in public — and with the possible addition on the court of President Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to succeed the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. As a federal appeals court judge, Kavanaugh has interpreted the Second Amendment broadly, saying in one dissenting opinion that it protects the right to own semiautomatic weapons.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s ruling potentially applies to gun laws in nine Western states covered by the Ninth Circuit, including California. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

California lawmaker proposes Tax guns instead of arming teachers

GunFollowing the February school massacre in Parkland, Fla., California legislators responded as they often do after a mass shooting, with proposals to further tighten the state’s strict gun control laws.

But the killings – and a national protest movement that they inspired – have also raised questions across the country about how best to keep children safe in school.

Assembly Bill 2497, unveiled last month by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, would create a tax on firearm and ammunition sales to fund grants for high schools that want to hire police to provide campus security. The money would also pay for a counselor at every middle school, whose primary responsibility would be to detect and report potential threats of violence. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

California Dems Push Pension Funds to Divest from Guns, Oil Pipeline

PensionsSACRAMENTO – California’s two major pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), control more than $500 billion in total assets, making them two of Wall Street’s most influential investors. They also are government entities, and some California leaders want to use their investment muscle to achieve public-policy outcomes.

This often comes in the form of divestment, by which the funds are encouraged – or even required – to sell their assets in industries that are viewed negatively by the people who push these efforts. These efforts tend to work against the goals of the funds’ professional investment staff, which are charged with getting high investment returns to fund pensions for the systems’ retirees. Both funds have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize their return on taxpayer dollars.

Yet estimates from a consulting firm suggest that CalPERS has lost approximately $8 billion in returns because of previous efforts to divest from coal-related and tobacco industries. That’s become a particularly contentious issue as funding levels have fallen to 68 percent for CalPERS and 64 percent for CalSTRS. That means they have only around two-thirds of the assets needed to make good on all the current and future pension promises made to government retirees.

Despite the troubling numbers, there’s a new push for divestment from some politicians. Following the October massacre in Las Vegas, by which a gunman murdered 59 people at a country music concert, state Treasurer John Chiang has called for the teachers’ fund to sell its assets in weapons firms and sporting-goods companies that sell any guns that are illegal in California.

“Neither taxpayer funds nor the pension contributions of any of the teachers we represent, including the three California teachers slain in Las Vegas should be invested in the purveyors of military-style assault weapons,” said Chiang, a 2018 candidate for governor and member of both pension boards. Chiang also told the Sacramento Bee that he plans on making a similar request to the CalPERS board.

The newspaper also noted that both funds “this year have faced calls to divest from companies that do business with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline,” which would transport oil underground from North Dakota oilfields to Illinois. It has prompted protests from a variety of environmental and Native American activists.

Critics of these proposals say they are largely symbolic and would do little to influence gun sales or the pipelines. Divestment from these relatively small industries wouldn’t have much impact on the massive funds’ financial returns, either.

On Oct. 30, 12 members of California’s Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to CalPERS chief executive officer Marcie Frost urging the pension fund to divest from a fund that has acquired a hotel owned by Donald Trump’s organization. This move is more directly political than many divestment efforts, which tend to focus on the social implications of investing in the pipeline, weapons manufacturers, coal-related industries and tobacco companies.

Divestment advocates sometimes argue that these controversial products may be poor long-term investments. For instance, the Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies Act of 2015 and similar efforts by the state insurance commissioner were based in part on the notion that these coal-related companies may face diminishing values as the world shifts away from carbon-based fuels – a point rebutted by those who note that the current price of the stocks already reflects that risk.

But the Trump-related divestment call, led by U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of Torrance, is designed to target the president. The members of Congress expressed their disappointment that CalPERS “has not divested its interest” in that fund “nor has taken any actions to ensure that its fees are not being transferred to President Trump,” according to their letter. They criticized CalPERS for taking a “wait-and-see” approach toward the matter.

These members of Congress claim that this CalPERS investment could be in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” This would be an unusual interpretation of an arcane clause.

Meanwhile, the pension funds have been expanding other divestment and socially motivated investment efforts. Last December, the CalPERS investment staff “recommended that the board remove its 16-year ban on tobacco investments in light of an increasing demand to improve investment returns and pay benefits,” according to a Reuters report. But instead of removing the ban, the board “voted to remain divested and to expand the ban to externally managed portfolios and affiliated funds.”

And last year CalPERS adopted a five year Environmental, Social and Governance plan that focuses on socially responsible investing. The fund has long used its financial clout to push companies it invests in to promote, for instance, board diversity and other social goals.

Whatever their chances for approval, the latest efforts are not out of the ordinary. But they will rekindle the long-running debate between political and financial goals, and whether the former imperils the latter given both funds’ large unfunded liabilities.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Teachers Pension Fund Weighs Divestment from Gun Retailers

CalSTRS1The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is considering a divestment from any retailer that sells guns or ammunition, in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

California State Treasurer John Chiang believes the divestment should focus on retailers that sell “banned military-style assault weapons.”

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the case for divestment was pressed by Jason Irvine, a Reno, Nevada, resident whose sister, Jennifer Topaz Irvine, was shot and killed in the Vegas attack. He spoke of having to identify his sister’s body after she was shot and said, “I saw with my own eyes and felt with my hands the carnage these weapons inflict.”

Although weapons do not inflict damage — rather, people who misuse weapons do — Irvine’s words found their mark and CalSTRS investment committee chairman Harry Keiley voiced support for looking into divestment. Kieley said, “This is an issue that we alone cannot solve. At the same time, I don’t think we should sit by idly.”

State Treasurer Chiang approached divestment from the angle of minimizing investments in companies “who business efforts are a risk to public health and safety.” He said, “It would be difficult to argue that battlefield assault weapons and aftermarket accessories designed to rain down bullets don’t fall into this category.”

CalSTRS voted to divest of specific firearm and ammunition manufacturers following the December 14, 2012, attack on gun-free Sandy Hook Elementary. On April 3, 2015, Breitbart News reported that some teachers were outraged to find that the pension was still invested in Bushmaster Firearms over two years after the attack. (Bushmaster is the make of gun Adam Lanza stole and used to kill innocents at the school.)

Pension managers told the angry teachers that divestment is a process that could take years in some cases, and it was still ongoing in 2015.

Now Chiang and others want the fund to undertake divestment “in retail companies that sell the weapons and ammunition.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Palm Springs City Council: Guns in Homes Must Be Disabled

GunOn Wednesday night Palm Springs city council voted for a new gun control measure requiring firearms in the home to be disabled with a locking mechanism or otherwise locked in a container.

The new gun control also includes a requirement that residents report a stolen gun within 48 hours and that concealed carry permit holders place guns “in a locked container” if leaving them in their cars.

According to The Desert Sun, 23 Palm Springs residents spoke at the city council meeting, with 15 opposing the new gun controls and eight supporting them. The council then voted 3-2 to pass the measures.

Moms Demand Action’s Dori Smith was one of the eight people who spoke in favor of the gun control. She pointed to the accidental death of a toddler in Louisiana as justification for Palm Springs to adopt the measures on disabling firearms in the home. She said, “We’re simply asking for safety first and saving lives.” Smith did not mention that far more children 10 and under are accidentally killed each year by fire and water than are accidentally killed with a firearm.

In fact, 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures showed that over seven times more children 10 and under were killed in fire-related deaths than accidental gun deaths. And the number of children 10 and under killed in accidental drownings was over 16 times higher than the number killed in accidental gun deaths. Besides being silent on these facts, Smith also failed to explain how requiring a law-abiding citizen to lock up his guns will save that citizen’s life if an intruder storms his residence.

Councilman J.R. Roberts voted to require law-abiding citizens to disable their guns as a way of preventing “youths” from grabbing a gun “in a moment of hopelessness.” Roberts did not explain why homes without “youths” in them should also be required to disable their guns.

Gun owner Andrew Hirsch was among the 15 who spoke against the gun control. He said “the prior city council was known for corruption” and suggested the current city council is soiling its own reputation by “using its powers to restrict the freedoms of law-abiding people.”

The passage of the gun control was preliminary. The city council will bring the measures up for a second and final vote during their next meeting.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart California

17 Initiatives Qualify for November Ballot

Voting boothVoters have been warned for a while to be prepared for a seemingly never-ending series of ballot measures, and on Thursday the secretary of state released the final list of what initiatives qualified.

Seventeen total. And while voters will read and learn more as the campaigns unfold between now and Election Day, here is a quick reference guide to get your bearings.

Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags: This is as it sounds. In 2014, the Legislature passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. So a “yes” vote would uphold the ban. A “no” vote would overturn it.

To uphold the law would ban the use of single-use carryout bags, except for perishable items. It would also impose a fee of at least $.10 per paper bag or thicker plastic bag if the customer didn’t provide a reusable one.

The ban actually died on the Assembly floor in 2014 three days before it passed. What changed? A deal was struck between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Safeway creating the $.10 fee, which will be kept by the grocer/retailer.

Plastic Bags, Part II: If the plastic bag ban is upheld by voters, this initiative would divert the $.10 fees for bags to a state fund to pay for environmental programs. This would be in lieu of the money going to the grocers.

Campaign Finance (Poll): This is basically just an elaborate poll. It’s a non-binding measure that allows voters through the ballot process to log their approval or disapproval of campaign finance law in the country.

A similar measure got tied up in court in 2014, as opponents called it a ploy to drive voter turnout. But in January, the state Supreme Court ruled it was allowable, and so here it is.

Specifically at question is the 2010 Citizens United ruling where the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited sums in support or opposition of a political candidate.

Guns and Ammo: This is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pet project. This would ban magazines of 11 rounds or more, require background checks for ammunition and require the state to share data in the FBI’s background check system, among other things.

However, a bill passed by the Legislature on Thursday but not signed yet by Gov. Jerry Brown would amend this ballot initiative (yes, it amends something that isn’t yet law) to further limit who can purchase ammunition to both persons whose data matches up with the Automated Firearms System and to those who have a ammunition purchase authorization. There are some exceptions.

Naturally, this sidestep of Newsom to amend his measure ruffled his feathers, dragging him and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, the bill’s sponsor, into a public disagreement.

“This last-minute, anti-democratic, poison pill sneak attack makes you wonder if the Pro Tem cares about himself more than he cares about doing the right thing,” said Newsom spokesman Dan Newman, according to The Sacramento Bee. “Is he someone who truly respects the will of the voters and wants to reduce gun violence or is he merely a self-serving cynic completely consumed with petty personal grudges?”

Death Penalty Repeal: This repeals the death penalty as the maximum punishment for murder and replaces it with life without parole, applying retroactively to those already sentenced to death.

This has a provision mandating those who’ve been sentenced to life without parole to work, with 60 percent of their income possibly going towards restitution to victims.

The Opposite of a Death Penalty Repeal: And for those who think the death penalty should stay as the ultimate sentence for murder, this measure would speed up the process by implementing a time limit on the lengthy appeals process, by assigning the superior court for the initial review and by limiting the number of successive petitions.

Like the competing measure, this would impose a work requirement for restitution to victims.

Drug Pricing: This would set pharmaceutical prices for any state agency to be as low as what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays — the VA benefits from federally mandated cost controls.

According to KPCC, the measure would apply to “any program in which the state is the ultimate payer for a drug,” which includes: Medi-Cal fee-for-service plans, CalPERS (provides health benefits to current and retired state employees), prison inmates and people receiving AIDS drugs from the government.

Condoms in Porn: This may as well be called the Condoms In Porn Act, because it would require porn actors to wear condoms during the filming of sexual intercourse.

It also requires that producers provide testing and vaccinations for STDs. And for what it’s worth, producers would also have to post the condom requirements at the job site.

No Blank Checks Initiative: This would require any bond of $2 billion or more for a state project to go before the voters for approval.

As dull as that sounds, it could have a dramatic impact on Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy, in that it would likely put funding for the bullet train and the twin tunnels water project up to a vote of the people.

School Bond: This would authorize $9 billion in bonds for school construction and modernization, supported by a coalition of school districts and school developers. Pretty self-explanatory.

The measure failed to qualify in 2014, however, amid opposition from Gov. Jerry Brown, who said at the time local school construction was best left up to local control.

Earlier this year, Brown reiterated his opposition, calling the initiative a “blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities,” according to EdSource.

FYI: Blunderbuss is a “blundering person,” according to Merriam-Webster. It’s also an old fashioned, muzzle-loading gun.

Prop. 30 extension: This is a 12-year extension of Prop. 30, which was a seven-year temporary tax on earnings of more than $250,000 annually to bolster education funding, with the extension coming two years early.

Prop. 30 passed to stave of imminent sharp cuts in education. Now that the economy has recovered, proponents want to keep the money flowing and now hospitals want a cut too.

The extension would allow a quarter-cent sales tax that was part of Prop. 30 to expire, but would add up to $2 billion in funding per year for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

As part of Prop. 30, the program was supposed to receive several layers of accountability, including a state-run audit of the fund that doles out the money to schools that still hasn’t happened. The controller’s office previously told CalWatchdog the audit would likely happen before voters have to decide.

California Legislature Transparency Act: The CLTA is a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to make available online the final version of a bill at least 72 hours prior to a vote on either the Assembly or Senate floor. It would also require all open legislative meetings be recorded with the videos posted online within 24 hours and would give permission to individuals to record and share their own videos of open meetings.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, is currently negotiating with CLTA proponents over changes proposed by the Legislature — but the negotiations are not going well.

Multilingual Education: This would repeal most of Prop. 227, which in 1998 placed heavy restrictions on bilingual educations for English learners in favor of English-immersion education.

Why would voters overturn their prior decision? Education Week framed the debate well. Proponents argue new data shows the value of bilingual education, native English speakers would be allowed access to a bilingual education (if they choose), and because we live in a different world with rapidly changing demographics.

Why would voters keep Prop. 227 on the books? Ron Unz, a former candidate for U.S. Senate and governor who pushed for Prop. 227, argued that an overall improvement over a year-period in standardized test scores shows Prop. 227 worked. And others would likely make a nativist argument: This is America, and residents should learn English.

Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement: This one is a little confusing. The federal government contributes to the state’s health care program for low-income patients, called Medi-Cal. In order to get this money, the state has to contribute matching funds.

In 2009, the state passed a law taxing hospitals to help contribute to the state’s portion of the Medi-Cal funding to get the money from the feds. However, the state was diverting some of this money into the general fund.

So, this measure amends the state Constitution requiring these funds go to where they are intended.

It would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to amend the fee allocation program only when the changes would “amend or add provisions that further the purposes of the Act.” It would require voter approval to repeal or replace the program with a “similar statute imposing a tax, fee or assessment unless that similar statute is either.”

Sentencing overhaul:  Jerry Brown’s baby. After surviving a legal challenge and rumored sky-high signature collecting fees, this bill made it to the ballot just before the deadline.

Brown’s measure would allow for some nonviolent felons to be paroled early in certain instances, require judges to hold hearings prior to determining whether to try juveniles as an adult, and develop a good behavior, parole-and-sentence credit system for prisoners.

Marijuana Legalization: This would allow individuals, 21 and older, to transport and use up to an ounce of recreational pot. It would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants.

If approved, California would join Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon in allowing recreational pot.

Tobacco Tax: If this passes, smokers would pay a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes, with a similar increase on other tobacco products and e-cigs containing nicotine. The money will go primarily to healthcare and anti-smoking/tobacco-related health programs.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Coming Together After Orlando

We live our lives day by day, but we are defined by those moments which we carry with us forever. Whether a wedding, the birth of a child or an historic event, we remember the fluid details and panorama of experiences that we lose in an average Tuesday as soon as its over.

I can remember exactly where I was win the Challenger exploded on liftoff, when the first Gulf War started and a moment by moment mental reel of 9/11. Some of these moments are directly related to us. Others are outside events of which we have no part but leave their indelible mark on our personal timeline and those of everyone around us.

Political campaigns too, are marked by moments. Richard Nixon’s sweaty five o’clockshadow in 1960. The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Ronald Reagan using his singular wit and ability to turn a negative into a positive against Walter Mondale. And of course, Michael Dukakis riding around on a tank in a helmet that reduced his stature — literally and figuratively — and became the symbol of a man not ready for the White House.

2016 has been filled with those candidate-generated moments; Donald Trump is setting the land speed record for how many of them he can produce weekly. But it has also had more than its fair share of outside events that have diverted the course and narrative of the contest. And all of them have had to do with many, many innocent people dying. Whether in Paris or Brussels or San Bernardino and now Orlando, we’ve been spectators to horrific acts of terror and bloodshed that shake our personal and national stability to their cores.

Most of the details about the attack in Orlando will take time to sort out. Why did Omar Mateen pledge allegiance to ISIS? Why was his outlet extreme violence? Why did he choose the Pulse nightclub instead of a diner? Who were the people that lost their lives? Who is still in the hospital fighting for theirs? To be sure, the political and national debate around the massacre has already escalated too quickly, will achieve too little in actual conversation or understanding and dissipate after a few weeks.

That is how we deal with tragedy in America in 2016. We are a nation uncertain of ourselves, today, tomorrow and into the future. Our collective national psyche is still badly damaged as we attempt to dig out of the wreckage — physical, financial and spiritual. We can blame our short attention span on the 722 inputs each of us has to gather news and information, but that is a cop out. If we sit and think about tragedies like Orlando for too long, it means we have to confront and come to grips with their root causes. Those are discussions that we are unfortunately all too unwilling to have.

What is the story of Orlando? Is it the story of a disturbed individual carrying out a disturbing act in an all too premeditated manner? If we find Mateen to have had a history of mental health problems, do we discuss the ongoing and overarching issues we have in that area? If, as he says, he was inspired by ISIS, are we willing to say that either our actions overseas are a contributing factor? Or are we willing to admit that, yes, even in America, someone can take their faith to a bad and dark place and carry out horrific acts in its name?

Or are we willing to discuss the fact that this man had become so disillusioned and alone that he felt that his only method in which to be remembered was to take the lives of dozens of people just out having fun on a Saturday night? How did he come by the weapons he used in the attack? Did he buy them legally? Did he buy them illegally? Should he have been allowed to do the former? How was able able to do the latter?

It would be hard to believe that the gunman didn’t know he was targeting a popular gay establishment. Was that his motivation? Was it a religiously-inspired protest against the gay and lesbian community’s strides toward acceptance, awareness and equality? Or did he simply know that there would be hundreds and hundreds of people there, many who would be unwitting victims of his treachery and bloodletting?

Our political discourse has fallen so far that the discussion has already been reduced to guns, gays and God. Our level of political discourse has fallen so far that you can’t even offer “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter or Facebook without being attacked. We should as a nation, come together in finding answers and understanding as to why and how such an attack could happen — and that doesn’t mean simply determining where the killer bought his gun.

Instead we will almost assuredly find ourselves more divided, our political envelope further pushed toward the extreme edges and our leaders content that they’ve displayed the appropriate level of outrage to score cheap political points.

After the eerily similar attack on the Bataclan Theater in Paris last fall, Donald Trump intimated that because of France’s strict firearms laws, the victims couldn’t defend themselves. Florida allows for broad firearm ownership and generally protects those who use guns in self-defense. What’s his answer this time?

If Mateen’s motivations were truly fueled by ISIS, as he claimed prior to the attack, will Hillary Clinton admit that there is such a thing as fundamentalist Islam and that it actually doesn’t like us? Even President Obama called them terrorist attacks. Are our politicians able to even imagine standing at the lectern and doing something other than triangulating how best to profit with voters with who already agree with them?

These moments define us, our relationships and ultimately our country. The city of Orlando, the families and friends of the victims, and the first responders who took out the killer, put the dead to rest, tended to the wounded and comforted others will never forget what happened Saturday night. As they attempt to find meaning and ultimately peace, instead of ratcheting up the volume on the issues that divide us, maybe just once we could put that aside and come together. If even for just a moment.

Republican political consultant and communications advisor to Lincoln Labs.

New Gun Laws in California Would be in Supreme Court’s Crosshairs

Photo courtesy of krazydad/jbum, Flickr.

Photo courtesy of krazydad/jbum, Flickr.

Gun owners in California recently woke up to the news that the California Senate had passed a stack of bills putting new restrictions on the use of guns.

If they all become law, you’ll need a license to sell ammunition and a background check to buy it, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds will be illegal, more guns will be classified as “assault weapons,” homemade guns will need state serial numbers, and it will be a crime to loan a gun to anyone who isn’t a family member or a licensed hunter.

Are those proposed laws constitutional?

The Supreme Court said in 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that Americans have the right as individuals to keep and bear arms. The court struck down Washington, D.C.’s, “absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

But the Heller decision left many questions unanswered, starting with whether the Second Amendment was binding on the 50 states as well as on the District of Columbia.

When the first 10 amendments to the Constitution were ratified in 1791, nobody thought they applied to the states. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in 1833 that if Congress had intended the Bill of Rights to bind the states, “they would have declared this purpose in plain and intelligible language.”

That understanding still prevailed at the start of the 20th century, as bank robber “Gunplay” Maxwell discovered. In 1900 he complained that Utah had denied his Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury, but the U.S. Supreme Court said the first 10 amendments “were not intended to and did not have any effect upon the powers of the respective states,” adding, “This has been many times decided.”

The Supreme Court never said the whole Bill of Rights applies to the states. Instead, there was a gradual process of selectively declaring particular rights to be “fundamental” to liberty. That makes them apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, which says the states can’t deny liberty to any person without due process of law.

“Gunplay” Maxwell was ahead of his time. The Supreme Court decided that trial by jury was “fundamental” to liberty in 1968.

In 2010, two years after the Heller decision, the right to keep and bear arms was declared “fundamental” in McDonald v. Chicago.

This gradual “incorporation” of the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment has been going on for about 90 years and has silently transferred power from state legislatures to federal courts. For example, in 2011 the Supreme Court struck down a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to minors. The justices said California had not shown the court a “compelling” reason to have a law that infringes the First Amendment rights of video game creators.

Soon, California may have to show the court a “compelling” reason for laws that infringe the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.

For 90 years, the justices have invented balancing tests and “scrutiny” levels to guide decisions in these cases, but it remains what Justice Felix Frankfurter called it in 1947: “merely subjective.”

Does California have a “compelling” reason to require background checks for ammunition purchases? One justice may think so, but another may find the reason “only rational.” Five votes for “compelling” would uphold such a law, while five “only rationals” would be enough to strike it down.

Over the next decade, Second Amendment rights will be profoundly affected by the personal values of the justices appointed by the president who’s elected this November.

The NRA made an early endorsement and started the fight before June.

Threats of Increased Gun Control Result in Increased Statewide Sales

GunCalifornia’s experience with gun control and gun sales has created an ironic situation with significant implications for policy: Tighter regulations have increased along with firearms purchases.

The phenomenon cuts both for and against the prevailing party platforms on the political Left and Right. “The increase in handgun sales coincides with a dip in gun-related crimes,” for example, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, lending support to conservatives’ insistence that most gun owners have no interest in breaking the law and no greater inclination toward violence. “The number of aggravated assaults in California involving a firearm dropped from more than 23,000 in 2005 to less than 16,000 last year,” the paper added. “The number of gun-related murders fell from 1,845 to 1,169 over the same time period.”

Growing unease

On the other hand, the statistics also reinforce the liberal contention that even very strict controls on guns can leave the Second Amendment intact, preserving citizens’ sport shooting and self-defense interests. In a further irony, however, the data indicates that robust gun sales have been boosted by a widespread perception among current gun owners that access to weaponry is being progressively sealed off.  “While more handguns are being sold in California, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are more gun owners. Some researchers have found the number of American households that own a firearm is at a 40-year low, even though transactions are climbing. This suggests a smaller group of people is collecting more weapons,” the Chronicle surmised.

The state’s 2014 ban on openly carrying unloaded guns, going into effect at the beginning of 2016, was “not expected to slow the growth in gun sales,” as SFist noted. Other new rules taking effect on the first of the year required that “pellet, BB, and airsoft guns must be brightly colored, to help distinguish them,” and that “concealed carry permit holders will no longer be allowed to bring their weapons onto school grounds or college campuses,” as the Christian Science Monitor reported.

But another impending law has raised the ire of a relatively broad group of activists and interest groups. January 1 triggers legislation, written and passed in the aftermath of the Isla Vista shooting, that “gives the police or family members the option to petition the courts to seize the guns and ammunition of someone they think poses a threat,” as the Guardian observed — “the first law of its kind in the country.”

Diminishing returns?

But, the paper noted, this so-called gun violence restraining order “has raised concerns from lawmakers and pro-gun groups about civil liberties and questions about how effective it will really be.” The now-customary wave of litigation set to emerge from the uncertain legal landscape was expected to refine the law’s implications, which legislators in Sacramento haggled over on the way to passage. “It will become clearer after petitions begin to flow through the California courts what kind of evidence, minimally, could result in the issuance of a temporary firearms restraining order,” according to the Guardian.

Other new restrictions on guns proposed this election season have raised further questions. While Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has begun campaigning on a policy that “would prohibit their possession and require anyone who has them to sell to a licensed firearm dealer, transfer them out of state or relinquish them to law enforcement for disposal,” as the Sacramento Bee reported, Gov. Jerry Brown has instead played up the limits of California restrictions that aren’t mirrored or reinforced by neighboring states and the federal government. “We have among the strictest gun control regulations in the country, and it doesn’t do us that much good if other states and the federal government is basically passive in this effort to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Brown told CNN, according to the Bee.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

California’s Gun Sales Break Records

As reported by the Contra Costa Times:

Amid a new round of debate over gun control, Californians have already bought a record number of firearms in 2015, including major spikes in sales on Black Friday and the days after the San Bernardino attacks, an analysis of new federal and state data show.

Firearms purchases in California triggered 1.51 million federal background checks in the first 11 months of the year, breaking the previous annual record of 1.47 million set last year.

And December typically brings even more firearms purchases than any other month, whether for holiday gifts or getting ahead of new gun restrictions the new year might bring.

The gun dealers’ holiday season got off to a rousing start. State data requested by this newspaper show that sales transactions spiked on …

Click here to read the full article