This week in gun rights – October 17, 2020

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



SCOTUS nominee says the Second Amendment is an individual right; ATF suspends Honey Badger cease and desist letter amid White House investigation; GOA and GOF file petition to the VA to restore veterans’ gun rights; Giffords’ new "gun rights" group; Canadian government plans to allow municipalities to ban handguns.


SCOTUS nominee says the Second Amendment is an individual right


During Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing this Wednesday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) sampled from her majority opinion in a gun case involving the restoration of the right to keep and bear arms for non-violent felons, where she said that the Second Amendment is an individual right. Of course Senator Durbin made a big fuss about this because he doesn’t agree with this position. Neither does Joe Biden. Dick and Joe couldn’t be more wrong about it. Here’s a quick constitutional law lesson on me, gents.

The Constitution’s articles define the role and authority of the respective branches of the federal government. The Bill of Rights confers individual rights to the People. Think about it: the First Amendment protects the individual right to speech, expression, the practice of religion, and so on. The Third Amendment protects your right to prevent the government from seizing your home to house troops. The Fourth Amendment protects your right to be free from warrantless search and seizure of your property and person. The Fifth Amendment protects your right to be free from self-incrimination along with your right to due process of the law. And so it goes. The Bill of Rights is a list of individual rights, with the Ninth Amendment serving as a catch-all provision of individual rights, and the Tenth Amendment serving to protect the rights of the respective states to independently govern within their borders. That’s why Justice Scalia was right when he wrote for the majority in District of Columbia v. Heller and why Justice Alito was right when he wrote for the majority in McDonald v. City of Chicago. The right to keep and bear arms addresses the fundamental, natural right to self-defense, which is necessarily an individual right. To suggest otherwise is just . . . bananas. In any case, the confirmation vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination will be held next week. 


ATF suspends Honey Badger cease and desist letter amid White House investigation


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has backtracked on its cease and desist letter to Q regarding its Honey Badger AR pistol. The suspension of the cease and desist is for sixty days, unless “withdrawn or suspended by the ATF.” The reason for this suspension is unknown, but it comes shortly after report of the White House investigating the ATF’s decision. However, most people seem to believe that it’s a political game - a sixty day suspension would presumably place the cease and desist into effect well after the presidential election and after any the country’s attention has been captured by the inevitable election court battle to follow, leaving the ATF to operate in the shadows. According to Ammoland, senior ATF officials believe that a Biden administration would give them sufficient political support to ban the possession and use of all AR pistol braces, which is what they tried doing in 2017 and as recently as this past summer. Ultimately this is all up in the air; with the presidency potentially changing this election cycle, AR pistols may become NFA regulated items, if not banned entirely under a new assault weapons ban.

GOA and GOF file petition to the VA to restore veterans’ gun rights


One of the most discrete forms of government discrimination against the right to keep and bear arms happens to military veterans who, thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs, have been reported to the FBI as disabled for the purpose of owning guns. Since the establishment of the National Instant Check System, the VA has been reporting the names of individuals who had been issued a disability rating that required them to be provided with a fiduciary manager (basically, someone to help them with understanding and accessing their VA benefits). Last time I checked, just because you’re no good at navigating a government program doesn’t mean that you’re incompetent to own a firearm. Nonetheless, once this information is forwarded to NICS, these veterans are legally prevented from buying a gun, and it needs to stop. That’s why I was happy to hear this week that the Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation have filed a petition to the VA to have over 250,000 of these veterans’ rights restored. If you’d like to read the petition, you can find it here


Giffords’ new “gun rights” group


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a . . . gun control group larping as pro-Second Amendment! Realizing that virulent anti-gun rhetoric doesn’t work, especially during a period of anti-government sentiment and civil unrest, Giffords has launched a new organization: the Gun Owners for Safety. Their goal? Combat gun rights groups! They claim to have accumulated about 50,000 members so far, including “hunters, veterans, former law enforcement and others who value firearm ownership but also want to reduce gun violence.” Pretty sure that’s just code for Fudds that love the government.

The point of establishing a group like this is the same as establishing political organizations like the Lincoln Project - it’s controlled opposition to support your agenda. Giffords and other anti-self-defense organizations will point to Gun Owners for Safety when they’re pitching some ridiculously draconian weapons law and say “See!? The gun owners support it!” The easiest way to defeat your enemy is to set up a straw man, and that’s precisely what Giffords is trying to do here. Meanwhile, gun owners who appreciate why we have the right to keep and bear arms - for both practical self-defense and to prevent the tyranny of government - will keep fighting until you can do things like walk down 5th Avenue with a machine gun slung over your back. We see what you’re up to, Giffords, and we don’t much appreciate it. 


Canadian government plans to allow municipalities to ban handguns


Oh, Canada. This has been a pretty rough year for our northern neighbors, and now their government is trying to make things worse. After using a crime spree (that the Mounties could’ve stopped) as pretext to ban commonly owned rifles, the Liberal party is taking its anti-gun platform to the next level by allowing municipalities to ban handguns. While nobody is certain what this legislation would look like, it appears that the mayor of Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city, is particularly interested in the option if he is reelected on October 24th. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety refused to comment on the Liberal Party’s plans, but condemned Saskatchewan for passing legislation that would prevent its cities from instituting the bans. Of course what the Liberal Party fails to understand is that the bans won’t have any effect on reducing crime. Or maybe they do understand this and don’t care; after all, Canada is a commonwealth nation.