South Dakota Senator Challenges Gun-free School Zones Act
Plus: Judge rejects challenge to Florida’s bump stock ban
Proposed Constitutional Carry Bill Addresses ‘Gun-Free School Zones Act’ Loopholes
U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, on May 16 introduced the ‘Constitutional Carry States’ Rights Act,’ which seeks to close a loophole in the ‘Gun-Free School Zones Act’ to give law-abiding citizens in states with constitutional carry laws the same legal authority to possess a firearm as individuals in states that require a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act makes it a federal crime to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone, with exceptions for law enforcement and individuals licensed by the state to possess a firearm, such as those with concealed carry permits.
The law only makes exceptions for individuals “licensed to do so by the state in which the school zone is located.”
“Because of this specific requirement of state licensure, lawful individuals in states with constitutional carry laws are not included in the exemption because they are able to carry without a specific state permit,” Rounds’ office explained in a statement announcing the introduction of the proposed ‘Constitutional Carry States’ Rights Act,’ SB 1506.
Also, the exemption does not apply to out-of-state individuals lawfully carrying a concealed weapon because it is limited only to those licensed in the state where the school zone is.
Noting that the South Dakota Legislature enacted constitutional carry legislation during this year’s session, effective July 1, Rounds said the bill addresses a long-cited inequity in federal law.
“This legislation would close federal loopholes in the Gun-Free School Zones Act to make certain South Dakotans who choose to exercise their Second Amendment Right are treated the same as those who possess concealed handguns with a permit,” Rounds said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this commonsense legislation and continue protecting our right to bear arms.”
Co-sponsors include Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Kentucky; Mike Braun, R-Indiana; Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota; Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming; Josh Hawley, R-Missouri; and Mike Lee, R-Utah.
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NICS Reports April ‘Record’ of 2.33 Million Background Checks
The National Instant Background Check System [NICS] reports it recorded the highest number of background checks for the month of April ever last month—2,334,249 NICS checks.
But the numbers don’t mean it was a record April for new gun owners purchasing firearms, Ammoland’s Dean Weingarten wrote on May 15.
“While NICS checks overall were a record, the number of permits and permit rechecks are growing so fast they mask a slight drop in NICS checks for gun sales,” Weingarten explains. “As might be expected, the permit rechecks are growing rapidly while checks for original permits are slowing a bit.”
Many NICS background checks are permit checks and permit rechecks required by many states for state carry permits. “The popularity of gun carry permits at the state level has resulted in more than half of all NICS checks being carried out for the purposes of permits and permit rechecks,” Weingarten wrote.
According to the FBI, there were 817,967 NICS permit checks and 494,527 rechecks in April. The permit rechecks for April of 2019. The total permit and permit rechecks were 1,312,494. The total non-permit background checks were 1,021,715.
The NICS permit checks for April of 2018 were 926,928, with 193,194 rechecks, totaling 1,120,192. The total NICS checks for April of 2018, the last record April, were 2,223,213.
The increase of total NICS checks from April of 2018 to April of 2019 was 111,036. The increase in carry permit and permit rechecks was 192,302. The calculated with “non-permit checks,” the numbers from this April are about 93 percent of those from last April.
“This trend is exacerbated by the practices of Illinois, which did over 360,000 permit rechecks in April of 2019, or about 75 percent of the total permit rechecks,” Weingarten wrote. “Similarly, Kentucky did over 361,000 permit checks in April of 2019. Kentucky checks all the state’s permits every month. The two states account for 55 percent of all permit and permit rechecks.”
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Florida Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging State’s Bump Stock Ban
On May 15, Leon County Circuit Judge Ronald Flury issued a 12-page ruling that dismissed a lawsuit alleging the state’s ban on “bump stocks” is unconstitutional, upholding on of the gun control measures adopted last year in the wake of the Valentine’s Day Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
In addition to approving a bump stock ban, Florida lawmakers—so traditionally pro-gun the state is known as the ‘Sunshine State’—also raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy rifles and imposed a three-day waiting period for purchasing handguns.
The National Rifle Association, which contends that raising the minimum age to purchase long guns from 18 to 21 is unconstitutional, has a legal challenge lodged in federal court against the 2018 law.
The plaintiffs in the bump stock suit are five individual Florida residents—Jonathan Hunt, Justin Brashear, Christopher Mays, Clayton Woolfe, Joseph Truex—who own bump stocks or “binary triggers.”
In their 17-page complaint, lawyers argue the Florida Constitution bars the state from taking private property “except for a public person and with full compensation therefore paid to each owner.”
But in his ruling, Flury wrote that the Legislature’s decision to ban bump stocks “was a valid exercise of the state’s police power.” He said the ban did not take effect until October 2018, giving owners time to sell or transfer the devices out of Florida.
“The state did not come onto plaintiffs’ property to destroy their ‘bump-fire stocks,’ there was no requirement in the statute that bump-fire stocks be destroyed,” Flury wrote in the ruling. “The plaintiffs were given several months to sell or otherwise dispossess themselves of the prohibited items. The fact that plaintiffs decided to destroy their bump-fire stocks rather than move them out of state or sell them does not mean the government destroyed their property. The court finds (the law) is a valid use of the state’s police powers to protect the general health, safety and welfare of its citizens.”
In a court document filed in April, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said dismissing the case would take “an axe to the bundle of property rights associated with ‘bump-fire stocks.’”
“Defendants’ [the state’s] position is that it can force someone to sell, give away, trade, distribute or transfer an item within a certain time period without physically invading the rights of said person,” the document said. “Such reasoning is absurd and contradictory to plaintiffs’ rights in their own property.”
The U.S. Department of Justice in December updated its rules to define the devices are prohibited machine guns, banning bump stocks also by federal law.
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IN THE COURTS
U.S. Justice Department Sides With Plaintiffs In Supreme Court Suit Seeking To Overturn NYC Gun Law
On May 15, The U.S. Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to overturn a New York City gun law that regulates where licensed handgun owners can take their firearms.
The justices are poised to hear the case next term beginning in October—the first Second Amendment case to go before the nation’s highest court since 2010.
“New York City’s transport ban infringes the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd and 14th Amendments,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in a friend of the court brief, asking the court to “confirm” that the Second Amendment also protects the right of a “law-abiding, responsible citizen to take his firearms outside his home, and to transport it to other places—such as a second home or a firing range—where he may lawfully possess that firearm.”
The primary provision of New York City’s law being challenged is its requirement that prohibits licensed citizens from removing a handgun from the address listed on the license except to travel to nearby authorized small arms range/shooting clubs.
The challenge was filed by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which argues that a New Yorker cannot transport his handgun to his “second home for the core constitutional purpose of self-defense or to an upstate county to participate in a shooting competition, or even across the bridge to a neighboring city for target practice.”
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