Gun Stories of the Week: Jury is Out on What Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland Would Mean for the 2nd Amendment

TOP STORY
Jury is out on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland

President Barack Obama on March 16 nominated District of Columbia Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Thus far, there are conflicting views on what his ascension to the Supreme Court, if confirmed, would mean for the Second Amendment and gun owners’ rights.

According to Daily Caller Associate Editor Scott Greer, the nomination means Obama is “serious about getting (Garland’s confirmation) through a Republican-controlled Senate” because Garland is “considered a solid moderate on legal matters and has earned plenty of praise from Republicans.”

On the other hand, the Judicial Crisis Network describes Garland, who was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court by President Bill Clinton in 1995 but not confirmed by the Senate until 1997, as “a reliable fifth vote for a laundry list of extreme liberal priorities like gutting the Second Amendment.”

While on the federal bench, Garland voted in 2007 to reverse a D.C. Circuit Court decision that struck down Washington’s handgun ban as unconstitutional. Dave Kopel, a guns rights advocate and Research Director of the Independence Institute, wrote at the time that Garland’s vote came as “no surprise” because the jurist already had “signaled strong hostility to gun owner rights.”

That ruling justifiably has some guns rights advocates fearing Garland would try to undo the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 Heller vs. Washington 5-4 decision which overturned his 2007 ruling.

Obama’s nomination of Garland, 63, a former U.S. Attorney, could put pressure on Senate Republicans to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before a new president takes office in January.

As Joel B. Pollack, senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News Network, wrote own March 16, Garland has supporters within the GOP, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who “suggested he would welcome Garland’s nomination but predicted that Obama would make a more ideological pick. That makes Garland harder for the GOP to oppose.”

What do you think? Let us know.

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IT’S CALLED A ‘NOISE BILL’
Gun control zealot proposes go-nowhere ‘assault weapon’ import ban

Gun control zealot Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on March 15 proposed a Congressional bill banning the import of 817 semi-automatic firearms that she knows has absolutely no chance of passing in the Republican-controlled House but gives her constituents the impression that she’s doing something other than wasting time on the public’s dime.

Speier’s proposed H.R.4748, the “Imported Assault Weapons Ban of 2016,” is a defacto resurrection of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. It would prohibit the import of any of the 660 guns included in the ban, which expired a decade ago, as well as the 157 new guns added by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline’s proposed 2015 Assault Weapon Ban. In addition to the named guns, any semiautomatic that with a fixed magazine of more than 10 rounds would be banned.

Under the bill’s edicts, gun dealers would be prohibited from importing assault weapons. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would be required to publish a list of assault weapons that are prohibited from being imported into the country.

The list would include high-powered firearms, such as Russian-made AK-47s, that Speier said in a press release accompanying the bill, “are not suitable or readily adaptable for sporting purposes."

Robert Farago in Truth About Guns notes that Speier is exploiting a loophole created when Congress failed to pass a bill last June that defining the term “sporting purposes.”

That NRA-endorsed bill noted that federal laws regulate the importation, possession and transfer of firearms based on their “usefulness for so-called ‘sporting purposes.”

This, Farago writes, potentially allows BATFE and anti-gun hacks like Speier to exploit “the lack of a clear definition of ‘sporting purposes’ to bypass Congress and impose gun control through executive fiat.” In other words, it’s a gun control loophole!”

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STATE ROUNDUP
California lawmakers ponder putting even more gun shops out of business

You’d think California State Legislators would have real issues to tackle—such as, say, the economy, jobs, taxes, the environment, water and so on—but, apparently, those things are after-thoughts for lawmakers in the nation’s most populous state.

Case in point: AB 2459, which Richard Thomson of the Firearms Policy Coalition describes as “the scariest bill we have seen all year—and that’s not a fact to be taken lightly as there are already bills to ban most semi-auto rifles, ration your gun purchases, and ban all magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds at one point in time.”

AB 2459, sponsored by gun control zealot Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), “could wipe out every single gun dealer in the state of California,” Thomson writes in ammoland.com. “In essence, if this bill passes, they may not ever have to pass another anti-gun bill again. You simply won’t be able to legally buy another gun in California.’

AB 2459 would ban all home Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealers, meaning thousands of rural Californians “could not legally purchase a firearm unless they drove hours to a larger population area,” he writes.

In addition, the bill would force all gun dealers to video record all areas of their store wherever firearms or ammunition are stored, displayed, carried, handled, sold, or transferred, including, but not limited to, counters, safes, vaults, cabinets, shelves, cases, and entryways.

"Adding to the Orwellian-ness," Thomson continues, "gun dealers will have to spend thousands of dollars on storing the high-quality data for up to 10 years on-site, turning each gun store that can afford it into a high capacity hard drive that most tech firms would be jealous of.
Assuming a gun dealer is still in business after the first two requirements, the last one will do them in."

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IN THE COURTS
‘Mistaken approach’ in denying illegal aliens’ gun rights could endanger actual citizens’ rights

An August 2015 decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Mariano A. Meza-Rodriguez upholds prohibitions on gun ownership by illegal aliens with a “mistaken approach” that could, potentially, endanger the Second Amendment rights for actual American citizens.

Andrew Kloster, a Legal Fellow with the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, writes in a March 16 Heritage.org analysis that “it is to be hoped that future courts, rather than applying a 14th Amendment ‘balancing’ approach, (the courts) will hold conclusively either that illegal aliens are not included among ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment or that prohibitions on the ownership of firearms by illegal aliens fall within a category of presumptively justifiable restrictions on gun ownership.”

According to Kloster, the U.S. v. Meza-Rodriguez case addresses two interesting questions: Do non-citizens have Second Amendment rights? If so, can the government criminalize gun possession by illegal aliens?

In August 2013, police were called to a Milwaukee bar where Meza-Rodriguez was allegedly brandishing what looked to be a gun. Mesa-Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen, was arrested after a foot chase. Police did not find a gun, but did find a .22 caliber cartridge on him. Meza-Rodriguez was charged with illegally possessing a firearm because he was not a U.S. citizen.

Meza-Rodriguez moved to dismiss the indictment, claiming he had a Second Amendment right to possess firearms and ammunition. When this motion was denied by the district court, he pled guilty and was removed to Mexico.

In its later ruling, the Seventh Circuit Court held that although illegal aliens are covered by the Second Amendment, “the government nevertheless can constitutionally prohibit them from owning firearms and ammunition.”

Four different U.S. Circuit Courts have ruled that illegal aliens were not among “the people” covered by the Second Amendment. But the Seventh Circuit’s decision concluded that illegal aliens were among “the people” … but that they nevertheless could be barred from gun ownership consistent with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s “balancing test” that doesn’t necessarily address the relevancy of citizenship — meaning it could be applied as a precedent in future court rulings.

The vagary could have significant implications, Kloster writes. “The federal courts will have to better articulate and adopt a clear standard of scrutiny to be applied in similar cases going forward, to further ensure that these rights are adequately protected.”

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