Gun News of the Week: Hardiman, Pryor, Six Women Jurists Among ‘Top 25’ Pro-Gun Supreme Court Candidates

Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act’ Is Dishonest Dancing Baloney

TOP STORY

Hardiman, Pryor, Six Women Jurists Among ‘Top 25’ Pro-Gun Supreme Court Candidates

A November 2017 "short list" of 25 conservative justices and one U.S. Senator, Republican Mike Lee of Utah, developed by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation will likely produce President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced on June 27 he will retire on July 31.

Among them are 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor and Third Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, who were two of Trump’s three finalists when he selected 10th Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch as the late Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court successor in February 2017.

At the time, while gun rights advocates cheered Gorsuch’s nomination and ultimate confirmation, some lamented that Hardiman, with a more extensive history of pro-Second Amendment rulings, would have been the more favorable pro-gun rights chief justice.

The Court has steadfastly avoided Second Amendment-related cases since its 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald rulings. During its 2017 session, for instance, the Court opted not to accept Peruta v. California, the long-awaited appeal of California’s “may issue” law that requires a citizen to seek permission before exercising a fundamental individual right.

Gorsuch joined Justice Clarence Thomas in opposing the decision not to hear Peruta while Kennedy was among the majority that did chose not to hear a case Second Amendment advocates had long wanted to presented to the Supreme Court.

The addition of Hardiman or Pryor most likely would have increased the odds of Peruta, specifically, and Second Amendment case, generally, from being heard before the nation’s highest court.

Here are brief bios of the pair:

  • Hardiman, 52, a University of Notre Dame graduate who received law degree from Georgetown University, he drove a taxi to pay for his college tuition and may benefit from an endorsement by Trump's sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who sits on the 3rd Circuit Court in Philadelphia with him.

Hardiman has an extensive record of pro-gun rights rulings. According to SCOTUS Blog, he dissented in a court ruling upholding a New Jersey law mandating potential gun owners show "justifiable need" to carry a handgun in public, backed a decision that said non-violent felons enjoy the Second Amendment right carry a weapon, and has written that the constitutional right "to keep and bear arms" extends beyond the home for self-protection.

  • Pryor, 55, graduated from Northeast Louisiana University, received his law degree from Tulane University and, like U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he is a former Alabama State Attorney General.

As Alabama’s AG, Pryor ruled in the case of a Texas man who had been charged with violating the federal ban on possessing firearms while under a domestic violence restraining order, calling the government’s interpretation of the law “a sweeping and arbitrary infringement on the Second Amendment.”

In 2001, the NRA gave Pryor its Harlon B. Carter Legislative Achievement Award, its top honor.

During Pryor’s 2003 confirmation hearings for U.S. Court of Appeals, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy criticized him for “vigorously” opposing gun restrictions — which is quite an endorsement from a gun rights advocate’s perspective.

Speculative scuttlebutt — and Trump’s own comments — indicate he may select a woman to the bench to succeed Kennedy. Here are six on the “short list:

  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

  • Justice Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

  • Justice Britt Grant of the Georgia Supreme Court.

  • Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

  • Justice Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

  • Justice Diane Sykes of Illinois, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Of these, Eid and Sykes stand out in Second Amendment rulings.

In 2012, Eid authored the unanimous Colorado Supreme Court opinion that opened the door to concealed firearms on state public college and university campuses.

After 2010’s Supreme Court McDonald ruling that struck down Chicago’s handgun ban, the city adopted an ordinance that required gun owners to undergo firing range training and then banned all firing ranges within the city.

Sykes struck down the law. “It’s hard to imagine anyone suggesting that Chicago may prohibit the exercise of a free-speech or religious-liberty right within its borders on the rationale that those rights may be freely enjoyed in the suburbs,” she wrote in her ruling. “That sort of argument should be no less unimaginable in the Second Amendment context.”

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DOING SOMETHING

‘Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act’ Is Dishonest Dancing Baloney

A Rhode Island Congressional Democrat has introduced a gun control bill by another name — a common tactic in the politically expedient quest to do something — that would increase relations on firearms retailers and punish them for following all the laws and regulations already imposed on their legal commerce.

HR 6075, The Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI, would triple the number of compliance inspections on a federal firearms license (FFL) holder, without reasonable cause or warrant, from once in a 12-month period to three times.

To accommodate such a bump in inspections, the measure adds 80 additional full-time positions to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

“The vast majority of gun dealers follow the law, but the few engaging in reckless and illegal behavior are a major factor in the gun violence epidemic gripping our nation,” Langevin said in a statement. “By specifically targeting bad actors that sell guns without background checks or falsify records, this bill will help stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals.”

According to the eight-page bill’s summary, the results of 11,000 inspections of FFL retailers between October 2016 and September 2017 showed half received citations, although the ATF shut down less than 1 percent.

According to ATF statistics cited by George Eger in a June 29 Guns.com article, in 2016 its agents conducted 9,760 inspections on the pool of 80,119 businesses with active FFLs, a rate of about 12 percent. That rate is more than triple the percent inspected in the 1980s but down from the bureau’s high of 20 percent seen during the administration of President Obama, Eger notes.

H.R. 6075 would increase the penalty that FFLs who make a false statement during an inspection or have a 922 violation to as much as five years in prison, up from the current one year. Those with record keeping offenses deemed to help gun traffickers would be subject to 10 years. In some cases, the Attorney General would be authorized to suspend licenses and levy a civil fine of as much as $10,000.

The proposal also strikes the current “shall-issue” language from the licensing process for those applicants who qualify, changing it to a more restrictive “may-issue” which would allow federal regulators to use their own discretion in granting and renewing FFLs.

Eger said the measure includes language drawn from two bills introduced in 2016 by Langevin in HR 4356, targeting “Deadbeat Gun Dealers” and Rep. Gwen Moore’s, D-Wisc., Gun Dealer Accountability Act, neither of which left committee last session.

Not likely this one will either.

But that’s not important for Langevin.

What’s important for Langevin is he can have a press conference and declare that he is doing something to stop gun violence by introducing bone-headed bills designed not to go anywhere.

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STATE ROUNDUP

Crashing Website Frustrates California ’Assault Weapon’ Owners’ In Meeting July 1 Registration Deadline

California gun owners were required to register any firearms now classified as an “assault weapon” under Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135 by July 1.

Apparently, despite headed objections and lawsuits challenging the bills and their implementation, California gun owners were complying with the new regulation.

Or trying to.

According to the Firearms Policy Coalition, as the deadline was approaching on June 30, the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) was experiencing “difficulty processing the high volume of applications.”

The spike in traffic repeatedly crashed CFARS’ website, preventing gun owners from registering properly, preventing compliance with the law if the site is not fixed.

SB 880 and AB 113, which became effective in January 2017, “assault weapon” now includes firearms that are required to be equipped with a bullet button or a similar magazine locking device.

The California Department of Justice acknowledged the issues processing applications but rather than extend the deadline, the Office of the Attorney General advised troubleshooting which is another way of saying registrants should not have waited until the last day to comply with the deadline.

If firearms are not registered before the deadline, gun owners could be charged with a felony and receive up to eight years in prison.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and various other Second Amendment consulting groups and law firms are advising gun owners and have legal representation standing by.

For more information, go to California Stand-And-Fight.

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IN THE COURTS

Heller: Ten Years Gone, But The Fight Goes On

Time passes quickly but when it comes to the U.S. Supreme Court and almost anything related to the Second Amendment, time has stood still for a decade.

June 26 marked the 10th anniversary of the Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller, a ruling that changed the debate over the fundamental individual right to own a personal firearm, and led to the subsequent 2010 ruling in McDonald v Chicago that reaffirmed that right.

“Our decision in Heller points unmistakably to the answer,” The Court wrote in its McDonald opinion, explaining that the individual right articulated in Heller is “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition” and “among the foundational rights necessary to our system of Government.”

The ruling requires due process in ensuring Second Amendment rights — actually, all Constitutional rights — are weighed equality with a municipalities’ 14th Amendment public safety authority.

The Court has revisited the Second Amendment only once since Heller and McDonald — 2016’s Caetano v. Massachusetts, in which it ordered that state’s highest court to reconsider its decision that stun guns are not protected under the Second Amendment.

For insight into how the Heller and McDonald rulings have influenced litigation and legislation since, the NRA-ILA has published a good analysis here.

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