Legal Issues

SAF.org — Leading the Fight for Your Rights: Illinois, Pistol Braces…

Gavel with American flag

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF.org) is responsible for around 80 percent of the major 2A cases we have won. The Shooter’s Log had a chance to sit down with the SAF’s founder, Alan Gottlieb and ask him about the lawsuits against Illinois’ recent gun bans, the ATF’s ban on bump stocks, pistol braces, and the SAF’s victories in Bruen v. New York, McDonald v. Chicago, the Heller decision, and more.

From the audio transcript:

Illinois passed a silly law that not only bans semi-automatic firearms and standard capacity weapons, but it goes through a whole bunch of other stuff aimed at making gun ownership horrible in the state of Illinois. The Second Amendment Foundation filed suit against Illinois’ latest gun control measure just before the midnight deadline a few days ago. I am very excited about the suit. We have a number of plaintiffs involved and filed in the Southern District of Illinois.

Recently, we were assigned a judge who, happily, was a Trump appointee. Hopefully, that means we are going to get a good, fair hearing at the trial court level. We have asked for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction. Right now, we are waiting for our court dates — all of which will be updated on our website at SAF.org. By checking SAF’s site (and The Shooter’s Log) you’ll be able to track the case from there.

*** UPDATE: An Illinois state court judge has granted a limited temporary restraining order against the enforcement on 1/20/23. Unfortunately, at this time the restraining order only affects the 860 people named in the suit.

I feel really good about it, said Gottlieb. In June, the Supreme Court came out with the Bruen decision. I expected new laws as a result. However, I expected states to go down one notch and pass laws that were less restrictive than Bruen in an attempt to pass constitutional muster. Instead, Illinois passed laws way more restrictive than what the Supreme Court threw out in Bruen.

It is not just a state senator or two pushing this. Governor Pritzker is heavily against firearm ownership and gun rights. But Illinois is not alone. California, New Jersey, and New York have all went more restrictive than Bruen. It’s like they are all saying, “The hell with the Supreme Court and Bruen. We are going to pass laws that are more restrictive than you threw out!”

Governor JB Pritzker wagging his finger
It’s like the states are saying, “The hell with Supreme Court. We are going to pass more restrictive laws anyway!”

So, since Bruen, the SAF has been able to get restraining orders in the lower courts in New York for two of its lawsuits, a temporary restraining order against New Jersey, we have won a couple in California, and we are pursuing Illinois of course. The SAF and gun owners are winning since Bruen, but it is a process. A ruling from one judge is not final. We have to still go up the appeals process. However, the SAF’s track record since Bruen is pretty damn good!

The problem we have is gun owners are impatient — and I get that. They want the Supreme Court to take care of it today and for it to be done. However, the courts just don’t work that way. It takes time and money. For the Illinois case alone, the SAF has seven attorneys working on it.

Will Illinois see any relief soon?

If we can get a temporary injunction/restraining order, Illinoisans could get some temporary relief. However, the state would probably appeal that. The Appellate Court could then stay the order, and it would likely bounce back and forth between the courts. However, if the Appellate Court stays the order, it puts our lawsuit on a fasttrack. In that case, it could get resolver quicker.

The Second Amendment is my gun permit
The Second Amendment is in serious danger if rogue lawmakers are allowed to run amok unbridled. The Second Amendment Foundation is leading the fight for your rights.

If the court does not grant a temporary injunction or restraining order, then we will immediately go to the Appeals Court, which would shorten it as well. But you can never out guess the courts. They work slow. The opposition can throw a lot of procedural roadblocks in your way to delay the suit and run up our costs. (The states get to use taxpayer money). In Illinois, the state has really learned how to use the roadblocks and up out costs.

That said, Illinois has been the most successful state for the SAF’s litigation record — McDonald v. Chicago, which knocked out the handgun ban and incorporated the Second Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment making it applicable to all states. This opened the doors to a lot of litigation that we could not have brought to the courts otherwise. Without the McDonald decision, the SAF would not have been able to even begin the Bruen lawsuit.

But, it did not end with McDonald. Chicago passed laws that you had to have range training to own a gun but made it impossible to have a gun range in Chicago. The SAF sued (Ezell v. City of Chicago). After that, we had to block another maneuver in Ezell 2.

Another big Illinois case for SAF, which is not often talked about was Moore v. Madigan. The SAF challenged the Illinois law that forbid carrying a gun ready to use (loaded, immediately accessible, uncased). At the time, Illinois was one of the few states that did not allow concealed carry, did not issue a permit, nothing. The SAF sued, got it struck down, and Illinois was forced to pass a “Shall Issue” law. This allowed the citizens of Illinois to carry a firearm for self-protection.

While the SAF has had phenomenal track record in Illinois, the state has learned its lessons. Sadly, those lessons were not “to be more friendly to the Second Amendment,” but how to make it more costly and more time consuming for the SAF to get its victories. Unfortunately, other states are learning Illinois’ lessons as well.

Founding the Second Amendment Foundation

When we founded the organization, one of our goals was to eventually get a case to the Supreme Court. Remember, this was in 1974. At that time, there was no foundation for litigation on Second Amendment rights. Everyone likes to quote the Constitution, but it takes a lot more than that to get a case heard in court. You have to a foundation set out for your case.

Second Amendment Foundaton

Prior to 1974, there was only one court victory regarding the right to keep and bear arms. Believe it or not, the case was not even about guns, nor was it a Federal case. It was a case out of Oregon about carrying a knife. The State Supreme Court ruled that the state could not regulate the right to carry a knife, because you have a right to carry a knife for self-protection.

There were no law review articles, no intellectual law information or history regarding the Second Amendment – It just wasn’t published at all!

So, we held a legal scholars conference at Boston University. We brought in a couple dozen key attorneys to determine what we needed to build a Second Amendment foundation, so attorneys could file briefs and cite things in the briefs.

A number of years later, we held another conference at the University of Arizona with about 60 people — not all were pro-gun either. They antis wanted our literature and to understand our argument, so they could find weaknesses to exploit. We outsmarted them. We used them as Guinea pigs, they just didn’t know it.

Fortunately, the Dean of the University of Florida’s law school was there, and he was the expert in Fourteenth Amendment incorporation. He assured us that we would never get anywhere on our cases, because the Second Amendment had never been “incorporated.” You could not file in any state to get it incorporated, because the Supreme Court had never ruled that the Second Amendment was an individual right.

So, everyone who has used the phase, shall not be infringed, or the right to keep and bear arms, understand at that time (mid 1970s the Second Amendment did not apply to you as an individual. If you have used those in an argument, you better thank the Second Amendment Foundation.

When our right to own a handgun for self-defense was affirmed in the Heller decision, we filed the McDonald v. Chicago lawsuit the same day. With Heller, we knew we would win McDonald. With the McDonald victory, we got the Fourteenth Amendment incorporation which made the Second Amendment an individual right.

It took a lot of strategic maneuvering and filing of particular cases to the Second Amendment incorporated. Now, over 80 percent of the case law defending our Second Amendment rights are won by the Second Amendment Foundation and/or our attorneys. This has allowed others to also file suits and cite the cases the SAF has won.

Bruen v. New York

Bruen was the first major Second Amendment case to be heard by the Supreme Court in decades. We were certain that we were going to win Bruen. We also knew that a win with Bruen would with give us the case law and standing for a lot of other lawsuits that we had been blocked from. These cases were broken down into four categories:

  1. Lawsuits that the SAF had not brought because we did not have enough legal clout from other court rulings.
  2. Cases the SAF filed but did not win. Now, with Bruen, th SAF had the standing to go back and win those cases.
  3. There are several cases we filed in the 12 months before Bruen, knowing we did not have the standing at that time, but that we would win after we won Bruen.
  4. We did not expect this category, but it comes from states such as Illinois passing more restrictive laws than what the Supreme Court struck down in Bruen.

Currently, the SAF has 43 active cases it is pursuing. Even a large, national law firm is unlikely to be in court on that many cases at one time. You may be negotiation stages on some, and discovery on others, but you would not be physically active and in the courtrooms on 40+ cases at one time.

ATF Bans of Braces, Bump Stocks, and Definition of a Frames and Receivers

When the ATF released its older rule on pistol braces in 2021, the SAF jumped into action and filed suit. The ATF failed to follow the American Procedures Act, so it had to reopen the comment period.

To be honest, after that we slow-walked the case. That was good for firearms industry; they could continue to make and sell braces. This lasted much longer than the SAF or ATF expected due to several amendments to the suit and stays issued by the judge. Now that the final rules have been issued, the SAF is again amending its suit to address the new rules.

Because of these actions, the SAF is first in line to sue the Federal Government. The ATF is not completely stupid though. Two of the SAF’s lead plaintiffs’ are disabled. The ATF issued an exemption for disabled people, in an attempt to knock our most sympathetic plaintiffs out of the suit. In doing so, the government is still trying to hold on to the power to determine which brace or braces disabled persons can use.

The ATF also wants the braces to be ones disabled people can use, but the braces would have to be designed for them, but no one else. The ATF’s arbitrary definitions have a track record of causing it trouble anyway. However, the Second Amendment Foundation has the lawsuit that is first in line to be heard by courts challenging the new rules on braces.

The SAF also has a suit against the Federal Government for its new ruling on the Definition of a Frames and Receivers. Once again, the ATF did not comply with the American Procedures Act. The SAF has won a temporary injunction blocking the implementation of the Frames and Receivers Act. We have lawsuits ready to file or be amended once the ATF complies.

Second Amendment Foundation call to action for donations
SAF and ISRA had challenged the ban on the grounds that it violates the state’s preemption law that was adopted in 2013. That change amended state statute that declared “the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State.

How can you help?

Helping is simple. Donate or become a member of the Second Amendment Foundation. A 1-year membership is $15 — less than a box of ammunition. Of course donations are also accepted. That’s a small price to pay to support the organization that secured the Second Amendment as an individual right, and the organization that is most likely to defend your rights in the future.

Are you a Second Amendment Foundation member? Are you willing to give a few bucks to support the SAF. Which cases do you think are most important for the SAF to win next? Share your answers in the comment section, and let us know if you support the Second Amendment Foundation.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. Rockit

    The shotgun must be aimed as carefully as a rifle at short range no matter the barrel length.

    It is several yards before it spreads and it doesnt spread infinitely there is only so much of a payload. An SBR is dangerous for hundreds of yards.

    My politics are this- I dont give a nickel to anyone except the SAF. They spend the money wisely.
    The candidates for gun rights are probably good all of the way around. I dont do political articles I am not qualified I leave that to Dr. Dolbee and Alan Gottleib. All should do the same!

    Bob

  2. Just an observation here; The restrictions against a sawed off shotguns kinda makes sense in the liability issue of setting one off in a room full of people, while defending your family, it is a pretty good probability that some innocent by-standers could get hit with the “spray”. On the other hand, a “sawed off” rifle, i.e. Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), is still capable of pin-point accuracy for a substantial distance, so in that respect, is probably a better self-defensive tool than even a pistol, and for that reason, it seems the pistol brace fight should be to eliminate any laws against the SBR, and thus nullify the pistol brace issue too. Just a reminder here, as the 2A is written for “defense” against tyranny, and so makes all of our “arms” DEFENSIVE weapons, NOT assault weapons.

  3. DJ
    With all due respect you do not know what the hell you are talking about.

    There is a huge difference between the SAF and the NRA.

    I have worked with this group for years. They have had the majority of the victories for us while
    the NRA has tagged along with the SAF on a much, much larger budget.

    They are cut from a different cloth than the NRA. As for voting- sure.
    But voting is localized. Many of us have great local representatives. The SAF fights everywhere on every issue!

    Bob

  4. The Second Amendment Foundation has fought the good fight, sometimes on a shoe string.
    They are reputable, hard working and have their eyes on the end game and working for the people.
    My friend iJoe Tartaro gave his entire life to fighting the good fight.
    His daughter Peggy much the same. Dave Workman is very talented.

    Mr. Alan Gottleib is one of the most brilliant and hard working individuals in our corner.

    Unfortunately the once great NRA has devolved into the personal playground of a few at the top who have squandered millions for their own sake.

    The SAF is the one to support and the one to watch for the future of our shooting sports and most importantly our ability to defend ourselves.

    Bob Campbell

  5. Where to start… There’s not one case that’s really more important than the other(opinion). Like with all firearm related regulations, once given an inch they take a mile. It is our fight to hold onto our Constitutional Rights as unfortunate as that sounds in a “free” country. Picking out certain items wether it’s braces or AR15’s or knives or pencils ONLY AFFECTS AND PENALIZES LEGAL LAW ABIDING CITIZENS BECAUSE LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL NEVER CONTROL THE BLACK MARKET.
    We live in a different time period with different morals and definitely an extremely large and competitive population. Should some of our laws be restructured, of course, we have to make progress.So let’s progress!! Taking steps backwards and relieving American citizens of their Constitutional Rights is taking many many steps backwards. Haven’t we already seen enough of this with the recent turmoil of rights being taken away?!!!

  6. Don’t give your hard earned money to yet another organization that claims to be working for the “people.” Ask yourself why is it that most of the money collected is given to CEO in the multiple millions, they have private jets, multiple mega homes and live among the 1%? Just like the NRA, they could care less about you the people and only care about the money they get from the people. The best way to protect your rights is to vote, not give away your money. No, I’m not a anti 2nd amendment, I own more guns than most, I’m anti-organization that claim something when it is actually a money grab. Use your head, don’t give just to be a “Super 2nd Amendment defender!”

  7. Please don’t quit fighting the fight.
    It the only chance we have of survival the SBR rights act is just another step for them to corner us.
    Those who give and just do what they say might as well being there team. Don’t give up your rights

  8. I worry our firearm rights are a loosing uphill battle! What I don’t understand is when the supreme courts struck down similar attempted laws, how can states continue to try bans again and again?! I think there should be a penalty for violating Supreme Court ruling just like if a criminal were to attempt a crime in another state! I’d it violates their ruling then the state who committed the violation needs to be penalized, heavily with an irrevocable fine!

  9. The pistol brace ban is the most important case currently in play. A short barreled AR-15 is, hands down, the best home defense and self defense firearm readily available to the common man, and it is the pistol brace that made it readily available.

    A ban will make millions of Americans into felons, or cause them to suffer great financial loss.

    Also, the normalization and acceptance, across the Nation, of “braced pistols”, as opposed to “actual SBR’s”, could easily lead to the deregulation of SBR’s in short order.

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