Gun News of the Week: Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings Begin This Week

Plus: Defense Distributed Finds Way Around Court Order to Make 3D Gun Blueprints Available Online

TOP STORY

Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings Begin This Week

Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, is expected to face an exhausting, exasperating week — if not weeks — of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee beginning Tuesday.

Abortion, immigration, executive privilege and privacy rights will all be on the agenda but, certainly, Kavanaugh’s Second Amendment-related rulings will be fodder for Democrats who have vowed to make Republicans pay for “weaponizing” the nomination process when the GOP refused to stage hearings for President Barak Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland until after the 2016 elections.

Kavanaugh, 53, a U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Judge, is a Yale Law School graduate who, among other administrative and judicial posts, served as President George W. Bush’s White House Staff Secretary and worked with Ken Starr in impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. He is widely lauded as a Second Amendment stalwart.

Among rulings Kavanaugh will be grilled on is his dissenting opinion on Washington, DC’s gun ban.

In Heller v. District of Columbia, the D.C. Circuit Court upheld the District’s ordinance banning most semi-automatic rifles. But in Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, he argued the Supreme Court had already decided handguns — “the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic” — are constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment.

Kavanaugh wrote that the court’s “task is to apply the Constitution and the precedents of the Supreme Court, regardless of whether the result is one we agree with as a matter of first principles or policy.”

The Supreme Court eventually took the case and struck down the ordinance in its landmark 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment protects the possession of semi-automatic weapons for purposes unrelated to militia use.

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INJUNCTION UMPTION

Defense Distributed Finds Way Around Court Order To Make 3D Gun Blueprints Available Online

Texas-based Defense Distributed has begun selling “print-at-home” 3D gun blueprints on its DEFCAD website, a move that may — or may not — dodge a court injunction against making the designs commercially available.

The company’s website contains a variety of designs for weapons including an AR-15, Beretta, and the original "Liberator" gun.

Charlie Osborne of Zero Day writes on August 29 that the DEFCAD files are CAD designs which can be used to manufacture parts with the assistance of a 3D printer. The blueprints are being offered on a "name your price" basis, with a suggested token payment of $10.

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson originally offered the designs on the website as free downloads until the U.S. State Department demanded in 2013 they be removed because it allegedly violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) treaty.

Wilson challenged the state department’s prohibition on First and Second amendment grounds in Defense Distributed v. United States Department of State.

In a settlement announced in June, the state department agreed to waive its 2013 prior restraint, which essentially allowed Defense Distributed to begin posting gun designs on the internet again, not only for The Liberator but for other 3-D printed firearm blueprints, including an AR-15, beginning August 1.

On July 31, however, Judge Robert Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western Washington — in response to a lawsuit by 19 state attorneys general — issued a temporary restraining order blocking Defense Distributed from uploading the blueprints, saying they could likely cause "potential irreparable harm."

The judge issued the restraining order despite a state department attorney’s insistence that the federal government had determined in May that the online blueprints do not pose a national security risk because they can be bought “in any store.”

In response to the restraining order, Osborne writes, “Wilson has evolved DEFCAD into something else. Now, the blueprints are for sale, this may get around the free distribution argument involved in the court case.”

The injunction reads, “the files cannot be uploaded to the Internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.”

Sales of the designs is not mentioned.

Wilson told Gizmodo that Defense Distributed will comply with the court order by mailing purchased plans on a USB drive, emailing them, or sending them by secure means.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the initial injunction, told Gizmodo, "I trust the federal government will hold Cody Wilson, a self-described 'crypto-anarchist,' accountable to that law."

“So,” Osborne concludes, “the fight over 3D printed weaponry continues. However, it may be a losing battle to fight against distribution at this late stage. The moment a controversial file is uploaded, more copies spring up -- and it takes little effort to find 3D printed guns and weapon parts online from other sources.”

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STATE ROUNDUP

Governor Brown: Beam Us Up Some Vetoes

The California State Assembly has adjourned from its 2018 legislative session — finally — and the results, once again, aren’t pretty if you are a gun owner or, for that matter, a fan of individual Constitutional rights.

But it’s not over yet. Gov. Jerry Brown must sign the bills for them to be enacted and, when it comes to Governor Moonbeam, he can be unpredictable and mercurial in vetoing bills.

The California State Assembly has not overridden a governor’s veto since 1979, during Brown’s first stint as the Golden State’s chief executive.

The National Rifle Association is alerting gun owners to contact Gov. Brown and urge him to veto SB 221, SB 1100, SB 1177, SB 1487, AB 2103, and AB 2888. Here are descriptions and links to the bills in the NRA alert:

— Senate Bill 1100, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), would raise the minimum age to purchase a long gun from 18 years old to 21 years old, effectively denying young adults the ability to exercise their constitutional rights.

— Senate Bill 1177, also sponsored by Portantino, would prohibit a person from making more than one application to purchase and the dealer delivery of any type of firearm within any 30-day period.

— Assembly Bill 2103, sponsored by Assembly Member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) would add certain requirements in addition to the already mandated training courses for a citizen to obtain a concealed carry license. Currently, concealed carry permit holders are already required to receive up to 16 hours training prior to receiving a permit and at least four hours of additional training every two years prior to renewal.

— Assembly Bill 2888, sponsored by Assembly Member Phillip Ting (D-San Francisco), would expand the list of those eligible to file gun violence restraining orders (GVRO) beyond the currently authorized reporters which include immediate family and law enforcement. The new list is expanded to employers, coworkers and employees of a secondary or postsecondary school that the person has attended in the last 6 months. GVRO’s can remove a person’s right without due process and not because of a criminal conviction or mental adjudication, but based on third party allegations.

— Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Cow Palace located in District 1-A on and after Jan. 1, 2020.

— Senate Bill 1487, sponsored by Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), would prohibit the possession of certain African species of wildlife. The true goal of the bill is to ensure that a lawful U.S. hunter is not allowed to bring home a hunting trophy — even though the animal was legally taken and the hunter has the approval of the U.S. Federal Government.

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IN THE COURTS

Second Amendment Foundation Joins Battle Against Massachusetts AG’s Unilateral Gun-Ban Expansion

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s unilateral expansion of the state's ban of an erratic hodgepodge semiautomatic firearms is being challenged with more filings in state and federal court.

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) announced on August 29 that it, along with several other gun-rights groups, has filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in Worman v. Healey before the First U.S. Court of Appeals.

According to Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon, the SAF’s filing follows legal action by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which announced in August it would support Baystate Firearms and Training, LLC and Downrange, Inc. in petitioning the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County to have the action invalidated under state law.

NSSF is also party to another ongoing federal challenge to the order, which a judge for the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts ordered could go to trial after denying Massachusetts’ request to dismiss the case in March 2018, Gutowski writes

Healey announced on July 20, 2016, that she was unilaterally reinterpreting the state's decades-old “assault weapons” ban to expand what constitutes so-called copycat gun designs.

Gutowski recounts how Healey accused the gun industry of using "copycat" designs to skirt the law. She vowed to take action against "combat-style weapons."

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