This week in gun rights – June 27, 2020

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

D.C. sues Polymer80; Maryland’s background check system fails; 16 Attorneys General support background checks for ammunition purchases; Permit applications soar exponentially in Illinois as Chicagoans buy guns; Albuquerque parks declared “school premises” to ban firearms; The spin never stops: gun grabbers say lawful gun ownership to blame for police brutality; Rhode Island ghost gun ban carries a ten year prison sentence.



D.C. sues Polymer80

    On Thursday, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a lawsuit on behalf of the District of Columbia, alleging that the defendant, Polymer80, has violated D.C. law by “by falsely representing that its weapons are legal in the District and by selling illegal firearms.” In the District’s complaint, it says customers “can purchase the lower receivers of rifles or handgun frames, along with other materials — generally, the trigger barrel, and firing pin, all of which are available, if in stock, on Polymer80s website — needed to complete the receivers and handgun frames into fully functional firearms. The consumers then receive those material [sic] via mail.”

    If you’re gonna file a lawsuit, the first thing you should probably do is, I dunno, some research? Polymer80 doesn’t sell “firearms,” they sell products which, with some work, can be transformed by the end user into an actual firearm, kind of like how a pipe, block of aluminum, or spool of 3D printer filament can. While I certainly hope this case will be thrown out, if it isn’t, I hope the court realizes just how insane the A.G.’s legal claim is. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one, and you should too. 


Maryland’s background check system fails

    Apparently forgetting to oil its bureaucratic machine, Maryland State Police announced earlier this week that its background check system suffered a “catastrophic” failure. Blaming a hardware issue, the agency said that its ability to conduct investigations for “regulated firearms” purchases (read: scary black guns), handgun qualification licenses, and carry permit licenses had been disrupted, causing delays beyond the state’s seven day mandatory waiting period. 

    Despite the failure being the fault of the government, the Maryland State Police Licensing Division sent out an email requesting gun dealers to delay sales beyond the seven day period. A spokesman for the agency admitted that gun dealers are not required by law to wait, and that a procedure would be in place for them to document the release of the firearms if there are any issues when the system is restored. 

    Apart from it not being the government’s business who’s buying a firearm, the delay the state police have requested is indefinite, which would mean anybody trying to buy a firearm is stuck in limbo. I guess Maryland didn’t learn any lessons from Pennsylvania. Considering the individuals attempting to purchase state-regulated firearms are already required to possess other licensing, it’s a wonder why gun stores would hesitate completing transactions. After all, can’t they rely on state licensing, for all the good it purportedly does? The system is redundant, antiquated, and places a burden on constitutional rights and the ability of business owners to make a living.


16 Attorneys General support background checks for ammunition purchases

    Ammunition control is dead, but Attorneys General from the following states didn’t get the memo: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania (hi Joshie!), Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. Top cops from these states filed an amicus brief in support of California, which recently passed a law that requires background checks for all ammunition purchases. That’s right, every time you want to buy a box of ammo to do some target practice, California red coats want you to wait for their permission. Of course, limiting access to arms and ammunition necessarily puts people at risk, but the purpose of the law isn’t to make things any safer, it’s to inhibit the ability or willingness of people to buy ammunition. To put it simply, ammo control is gun control, full stop.

    Unable to apply critical thinking skills, or at least lacking a basic understanding of microeconomics, the AGs for these states want a system in place that restricts the supply of ammunition, which means people will find either blackmarket or off-the-books methods to acquire what they want. Just because you constrain a supply doesn’t mean you diminish demand. People will cross the border to buy ammo in other states or they’ll slap together a reloading bench like they should have done years ago. Just like you can’t stop the signal, you can’t stop patriots from acquiring ammunition.


Permit applications soar exponentially in Illinois as Chicagoans buy guns

    If you’ve been following this weekly or the news, you’re well aware of the chaos in Chicago, with police leaving communities unprotected from things like gang shootouts, massive protests, rioting, and so on. The Windy City has always been a dangerous place, the kind of place where you’d probably want to carry for your own protection. Despite legislative impediment from the state’s anti-gun politicians, Chicagoans are finally coming out to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. During the first two weeks of June, over 40,000 people applied for firearms owner identification cards in Illinois, 500% more than this time last year. Unfortunately, the sudden rise in applications is straining the state’s background check process, just like what’s happening in Maryland. Waits, which are statutorily set at 72 hours, are in some cases taking longer than a week. In addition to the spike in permit applications and gun sales, dealers are noticing a spike in the sale of self-defense ammunition, which to me is a pretty good indicator that people are realizing that they can’t rely on the government to keep them safe AND that they can and should take steps to protect themselves and their families. While it’s unfortunate that it took this level of calamity to get people to make a move, it’s a step in the right direction.

Albuquerque parks declared “school premises” to ban firearms

    The mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has just issued a declaration claiming that all of the city’s parks are now “school premises,” forbidding law-abiding gun owners from carrying while they enjoy the public spaces that they pay for.

    State law allows municipalities to assert that properties used for school events are school premises, so Albuquerque believes that this means they can indefinitely ban gun owners from entering parks by issuing an instruction declaring ALL of these spaces as school premises. Here’s the fatal flaw in their argument: first, the statute they’re referring to specifies that the grounds in question are only school premises while they are being used as such - not generally. Second, the state constitution forbids municipalities from passing rules or ordinances which affect the right to bear arms, and I may just be a small town constitutional lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that telling people they can’t carry firearms in open, public grounds runs afoul of that provision.


The spin never stops: gun grabbers say lawful gun ownership to blame for police brutality

    Did you know that if you own a gun, it’s your fault the police kill and brutalize people in your community? Neither did I, but apparently this is the latest trend in gun-grabbing propaganda, with authoritarians justifying acts of government violence against civilians by saying things like “a higher prevalence of guns owned by citizens leads to a higher local rate of shooting deaths by police, suggesting that America’s gun violence epidemic is a large part of police killings.” Correlation does not equal causation, despite your political agenda. 

    By attempting to imply that reduced gun ownership will reduce police brutality, team gun control and their political cronies are arguing that we should surrender our ability to protect ourselves to the same state that would murder us for something as trivial as passing a counterfeit $20, or having tinted windows. Gun restrictions affect all of us, often more disproportionately if we live in disadvantaged communities. Gun control doesn’t keep us safe from violence and, if this year has taught the country anything, there is no evidence to show that affording the state a further monopoly on the use of force will keep any of us safe.


Rhode Island ghost gun ban carries a ten year prison sentence

    In an unsurprising, but still unfortunate turn of events, the Rhode Island Legislature has passed their bill banning spooky ghost guns. More specifically, the law bans “manufacturing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, possessing, or having under his or her control” firearms that don’t have a serial number or are made substantially using a fused deposition model or other 3-d process. Backed by, you guessed it, the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand, violation of the new law carries up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    Here’s why this is a mistake. First, the home manufacture of firearms has a long and storied tradition dating back to at least the colonial era, so the law runs afoul of the text, history, and tradition analysis under Heller, and is unconstitutional. Second, it’s largely unenforceable. You can’t even stop violent criminals from buying guns on the black market, but you think you’re going to stop a bunch of tech-savvy guys from building them in their basements using materials you can’t regulate? Third, it’s a waste of resources. Even if you could somehow figure out who’s manufacturing these firearms, it’s a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and labor hours that could be dedicated to things that matter, like solving rapes, murders, and training your police officers to refrain from assaulting civilians. Even more, the law is preposterously vague. “Or other 3-d process?” I had thought existing in three dimensions was a prerequisite to being a gun.