This week in gun rights – July 18, 2020

Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at Firearms Policy Coalition. You can connect with him on Twitter @MattLaAtLaw.

New assault-weapon-hungry grabbers backing candidates; Bloomberg pricing out the Pennsylvania Legislature, and why you can’t trust politicians; Judge issues ruling expanding the scope of evidentiary search into Remington case; Victory in Virginia for young adults.


New assault-weapon-hungry grabbers backing candidates

         Ban Assault Weapons Now, a “grass-roots coalition of concerned Floridians,” with committee members like David Hogg—the precocious young scamp who serves as the most recognizable face of the recent push to disarm Floridians. Before this week, BAWN was mostly engaged in encouraging citizen-led lobbying efforts, but now it is joining the ranks of organizations like Everytown and other Bloomberg-backed groups, turning to financial influence of political elections. According to the group’s announcement, BAWN will be funding campaign contributions and supporting “targeted communication for candidates who pledge to push legislation that bans assault weapons.”

         Here’s hoping BAWN keeps up their track record of fumbling and self-sabotage, but if anything this is evidence that the grabbers are not losing steam. The under-21 ban in Florida promises to do irreparable harm to gun culture in the state, so vigilance is essential. 


Bloomberg pricing out the Pennsylvania Legislature, and why you can’t trust politicians

         In the midst of our fight with grabbers and the City of Pittsburgh to secure the right of Yinzers to keep and bear arms as they see fit, and as protected by the Second Amendment and Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, Bloomberg has announced that he intends to commit at least $1,000,000 to flip the state legislature. In 2018, Everytown rained cash on contested seats, bringing their candidates ever-closer to achieving a simple majority in the legislature’s lower house. The lesson learned here thus seems to be that if you can’t fight your way through the courts or sell your poison to current legislators, the solution is to install new, more agreeable members. Just so you know how serious this is, according to this quarterly FEC report, the PAC has at least $19,000,000 at their disposal. That’s enough for a good bit of campaigning, with much of this money coming from Steve Balmer, owner of the L.A. Clippers

         Of course, everyone ought be able to spend whatever money they want on whatever cause they want. But we need to make sure that we get the truth out there to counter whatever these ghouls are cooking up. That means everything from donating to 2A orgs to bringing your most reasonable 

         Meanwhile, in New Mexico, we have Representative Xochitl Torres Small, who was supposed to be a sort of blue-dog democrat, advocating for the more mainstream economic and social positions of the DNC while also supporting the Second Amendment. Representative Torres Small even went as far to use a shotgun to do some live action roleplaying as a hunter for one of her campaign ads. After a narrow win, guess what she did. Turned coat, supporting universal background checks and anti-gun legislation. Imagine my shock. Worse yet, she’s hired a former Everytown employee as her campaign manager. So remember, no matter what your politicians promise, unless they’re saying they want to repeal the NFA and that everybody should own a tank, they’re probably not to be trusted.


Judge issues ruling expanding the scope of evidentiary search into Remington case

         You might remember the Connecticut case, Soto v. Bushmaster, an absurd case where the plaintiffs were allowed to ignore the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and try to sue Bushmaster for someone’s criminal misuse of product. The theory advanced by plaintiffs being that Bushmaster advertised the product as being meant for criminal purposes

         Well, upset by progress in the discovery process for the Connecticut Bushmaster case (Soto v. Bushmaster), Judge Barbara N. Bellis issued an order chastising the defendants, insisting that their objection to the plaintiff’s demand that ALL Remington employee’s documents must be turned over was unreasonable. Judge Bellis said “the obligation to act in good faith and provide documents within their knowledge, possession, or power rests on the defendants, and it is fair game for the plaintiffs to discover whether the defendants met their obligations.” 

         Of course, bad discovery requests are common in this type of litigation. Plaintiffs are keen to go on fishing expeditions looking for some “smoking gun.” However, we often see the requests clarified or narrowed under objection, given the considerable expense that Remington, a company that is currently undergoing its second bankruptcy, will have to bear in order to produce a bunch of documentation which may yield zero evidence supporting the plaintiffs’ claims. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this case turns out, especially considering no court has ever held a firearm manufacturer liable for the criminal misuse by a consumer.


Victory in Virginia for young adults

         As the Supreme Court explained in District of Columbia v. Heller, the handgun is the quintessential firearm for self-defense in modern America, so of course the new Virginia Legislature would vote to restrict the right to access them for young adults; people old enough to carry a Beretta 9mm on watch in the military, but apparently not old enough to have one at their bedside. 

         The law in question was the state’s new universal background check requirement, which requires all firearms transfers to be conducted by a federal firearms licensee. A background check in and of itself wouldn’t prevent someone between the ages of 18 and 20 from purchasing a handgun, but by requiring the transfer to occur via an FFL, these adults would be unable to acquire handguns because FFLs are not permitted under yet another unconstitutional federal law to transfer handguns to individuals under 21. Thankfully, a Virginia judge took note of this, finding that the law as it applies to those under 21 is unconstitutional, the result being—for now—a bar on enforcing that provision as against 18-20 year olds trying to buy a handgun. Though the state is likely to appeal in short order. We need people to acknowledge at a national level that young adults have a right to self-defense too. Wins like these are a step in the right direction.