We get plenty of bad news when it comes to legal battles and regulations regarding our Second Amendment rights. Fortunately, there are several organizations fighting to retain our rights and reverse the efforts of over-zealous anti-gun lawmakers. This is the first installment and recaps pro Second Amendment wins and challenges from the previous month.
California Victory in Richards Carry Case
The Second Amendment and Calguns foundations earned a significant victory when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case of Richards v. Prieto, challenging the handgun carry license issuing policy of Yolo County, Calif., Sheriff Ed Prieto.
“The ruling reinforces the Second Amendment’s application to state and local governments, and will help clear the way for more California citizens to exercise their right to bear arms,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said. “California officials have been put on notice that they can no longer treat the Second Amendment as a heavily regulated government privilege.”
The case was originally filed in 2009 as Sykes v. McGinness and challenged not only Yolo County’s policies but also Sacramento County’s then-restrictive practices. SAF, Calguns and two private citizens, Adam Richards and Brett Stewart, continued pursuing the case against Yolo County after Sacramento County agreed to relax its policy. Attorneys Alan Gura and Don Kilmer represent the plaintiffs.
“We are confident that the win today will stand the test of time,” Calguns Foundation Chairman Gene Hoffman said.
The Richards case was argued at the same time and to the same panel that earlier decided Peruta v. County of San Diego, a similar case challenging overly restrictive carry-license policies. Yolo County and Sheriff Prieto argued that their policies were distinguishable from those struck down in Peruta, but apparently the three-judge panel unanimously disagreed.
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision moves our Carry License Compliance Initiative forward,” CGF Executive Director Brandon Combs explained. “We’re already preparing the next phase of litigation to ensure that all law-abiding Californians can exercise their right to bear arms.”
Gottlieb noted that the battle over right-to-carry laws is far from over, but today’s Ninth Circuit decision reaffirms that court’s earlier ruling in the Peruta case and “moves the ball another step forward.”
“We will pursue Second Amendment affirmation wherever and whenever such cases are possible as SAF fights to win back gun rights one lawsuit at a time,” Gottlieb said.
(California carry license applicants may download state-standard application forms, legal information, and report unconstitutional policies or process issues at www.calgunsfoundation.org.)
SAF has filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for review of its challenge to the exorbitant gun permit fees charged by the City of New York. The case is Kwong v. de Blasio.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and seven private citizens joined SAF in the lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 against former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was replaced by current Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York attorney David Jensen represents them.
The lawsuit challenges New York City’s $340 fee for a three-year handgun license, which is the highest such fee for a gun possession license in the United States. SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb noted that the fee anywhere else in the entire state of New York is $10, but the city is exempt from that law. The city’s higher fee, he said, “discourages city residents from exercising their civil rights while violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The fee structure discriminates against all but the wealthy and well-connected elites. This prohibitively high fee leaves average citizens defenseless due to their financial situation, but the right of self-defense and exercise of the Second Amendment should not be limited solely to those with deep pockets and fat wallets.”
The federal district court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals both sided with the city’s argument that the higher fee is allowable to recover costs and promote public safety.
“This recurring fee constitutes a substantial burden on the exercise of a fundamental civil right,” Gottlieb said. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it condition the exercise of a civil right on the amount of money one has in the bank.”
First 5,000 Illinois CCW Permit Recipients
Congratulations to the first 5,000 recipients of Illinois concealed carry licenses, which were recently mailed by the state police.
It was a SAF case, Moore v. Madigan, that forced the Illinois Legislature to adopt a concealed carry law last year, over the objections of anti-gun Gov. Pat Quinn and others, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“While politicians had to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance with the Second Amendment,” Gottlieb said, “the good citizens are rushing to enjoy their newly-restored firearms freedom. State officials said today they have received more than 50,000 permit applications. Last month, Fox News reported that concealed carry applications had outpaced the number of applications for Obamacare.
“We’re proud that our case brought about this opportunity for Illinois citizens to join millions of other Americans in the exercise of their fundamental right to keep and especially bear arms,” he continued. “If the Illinois experience has taught us anything, it is that the die-hard anti-gun politicians who opposed this new law are horribly out of touch with their constituents.”
Gottlieb said SAF will monitor the progress of this new law, with an eye on the number of permit applications being opposed by law enforcement that wind up being reviewed.
“At the rate of applications so far,” Gottlieb predicted, “we’re expecting to see up to 300,000 to 400,000 citizens apply for permits this year, which would be on par with the estimate offered a few weeks ago by the State Police. By the time that happens, we anticipate the law-abiding armed citizens of Illinois will prove that they are responsible and reliable with this most precious of civil rights.”
Attorneys general representing 19 states have signed an amicus curiae brief in SAF’s case of Drake v. Jerejian, asking U.S. Supreme Court determination of whether the Second Amendment secures the right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense.
In their brief, written by Wyoming Attorney General Peter K. Michael, the attorneys general note, “significant splits of authority have developed in both the federal and state courts as they have tried to answer questions involving the right to keep and bear arms outside of the home.”
The case, joined by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, also asks the high court to clarify the standard of review governing Second Amendment claims involving restrictions on the right of law-abiding adults to carry handguns outside the home. That case challenges New Jersey’s arbitrary requirement that carry permit applicants demonstrate a “justifiable need” to carry a handgun outside the home.
Colleagues in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia joined Wyoming Attorney General Michael.
“It is significant that so many attorneys general decided to sign on to this important brief,” Gottlieb said. “Their legal experience and understanding of this important constitutional and civil rights issue should carry great weight with the high court.
Virginia attorney Alan Gura, who represents SAF, won both of the significant Supreme Court rulings on the Second Amendment, in 2008 and 2010. Those victories have paved the way for many successful challenges of state and local limitations firearm civil rights.