This week in gun rights – November 7, 2020

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



Montanans vote against local gun control; FPC suing New York City; Medical schools teaching students that guns are a “public health problem”; Gun restrictions continue to harm Europeans.



Montanans vote against local gun control

In a bit of positive election news, the people of Montana have narrowly passed Montana Legislative Referendum 130, which removes the ability of local governments within the state to establish their own gun laws and regulations, effectively hampering their ability to restrict gun rights. While the new rule will prevent cities and towns from regulating concealed carry of firearms, municipalities will still be able to regulate carry in public buildings, parks, and schools. While the principle of permitting people to determine their own destiny at the lowest level of government should be lauded, it should be rebuked when the government’s power would be used to constrain liberty.


Firearms Policy Coalition suing New York City

This week we filed a lawsuit against the City of New York and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea in Greco v. City of New York. For too long, law-abiding residents of New York have been denied the right to effectively defend themselves from the actions of violent criminals; people who have never and will never obey any of the restrictions the city has in place for the “safety and security” of its denizens. Our complaint is simple enough - New York City’s “proper cause” carry license requirement has been used for ages by the NYPD Licensing Division to actively deny applicants the right to carry a firearm for self-defense.

Put simply, requiring individuals to demonstrate a proper clause in order to exercise any constitutional right, let alone the right to keep and bear arms, is a prior constraint and is inherently unconstitutional. In the colonial and founding eras, individuals were not only permitted to carry firearms, they were often expected to do so. Tammany Hall Democrats inversed the right to bear arms in 1911 by passing the anti-immigrant Sullivan Act and they have been using it to discriminate against working-class and minority New Yorkers ever since. We plan to change that, so stay tuned for updates.


Medical schools teaching students that guns are a “public health problem”

Public health problems are numerous - plagues, pollution, malnutrition - all of them have demonstrable impacts on the growth and development of our children and the overall wellbeing of individuals and our communities. But guns are tools, not pathogens, so why are medical schools teaching their students that guns are a public health problem? Researchers from the medical school at Washington University, Saint Louis “developed a multidisciplinary curriculum to train surgical residents so that they can best treat victims of firearm violence and feel confident in contributing to the national conversation on firearm violence as a public health problem.” The curriculum is titled Anatomy of Gun Violence and is, from the authors’ perspective, “the first effort to teach surgical residents about firearm violence as a disease process within its social context.” While one of the curriculum’s goals is certainly noble - reducing the likelihood of surgeons depersonalizing gunshot victims - the curriculum’s premise conflates cause and effect by supposing that firearms-induced harm is self-generated and not the result of other criminal ends such as drug dealing or other inherently violent crimes. Blaming the tool used for the harm caused won’t resolve the issue of violence in crime-plagued communities, so it makes little sense to focus on firearms when the focus should be on providing social services or reducing the underlying causes of primary criminal activity.


Gun restrictions continue to harm Europeans

Yet another pair of terrorist attacks have occurred in Europe over the last week, the first in Austria, the most recent in France. The attacks were committed by religious zealots which has ignited a debate about the right to speak freely in Europe, but what everyone has conveniently overlooked is the massive failure of the European Firearms Directive and nation-specific gun restrictions; one of the shooters involved in the Vienna attack was on parole for having attempted to join ISIS. Europe’s insistence on liberal democracy and restraint of individual rights has fomented a scenario in which individuals must choose between free speech and certain violence; a choice which the members of a free society should never have to make.