This week in gun rights – September 12, 2020

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

Everytown is mad about gun signage; Alabama politician wants “mental health courts”;Federal appeals court refuses to hear mental health case; Richmond, VA bans carry at permitted events; Calls to prosecute big igloo fans; “Pro-Second Amendment” names added to President Trump’s SCOTUS list; Petition to rescind Trudeau’s gun ban has massive support; Progress in fight to restore right to carry at the New Hampshire capital.

Everytown is mad about gun signage

If you don’t want people carrying firearms in your establishment in Texas, you can put up signage to notify gun owners that you are a weak, hoplophobic loser. This them on notice that going into the business with a firearm is a trespass, and that it is thus likely a stupid business undeserving of coin. Apparently Everytown for Gun Safety has a problem with providing this notice, and has filed suit against the state, claiming that the sign requirement is a burden on business owners and is a violation of their right to free commercial speech. Everytown argues that anti-gun business owners should be able to put up whatever sign they so please. 

Weird, it’s something we agree on. Business owners should be able to express themselves as they please, whether it’s advertising guns or telling people they don’t want them to carry in their stores. But the law exists for a reason - by telling people they can’t carry in an establishment, they’re laying the groundwork for filing a criminal trespass charge against gun owners who choose to ignore the store owner’s anti-gun prejudice. It’s simply good public policy to give people adequate notice that they are about to break the law if it’s not readily apparent while engaging in otherwise ordinary human activities. 

Think about it. If the speed limit dropped on the highway and there was a warning sign written in Japanese sitting at the bottom of a roadside fishbowl, would it be reasonable to enforce? Of course not, and that’s why Texas has some requirements before business owners can make criminals out of ordinary people.


Alabama politician wants “mental health courts”

Alabama doesn’t have a red flag law, and that’s a good thing. The bad news is that the state has passed a bill that requires probate courts to share mental health information with law enforcement databases; something that is constitutionally dubious and is an obvious attempt to discreetly sidestep the Constitution. But it gets worse: now a lawmaker in Baldwin County is pushing for the establishment of a mental health court at the county level. According to Representative Matt Simpson (R-Dist. 96), the goal is to catch people before they commit crimes, and the mental health court would have the authority to order people to receive treatment against their will. This sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but given the state of mental health treatment in Alabama, that sounds like a terrible idea and is, quite frankly, tyrannical. Helping people get the help they need is a good thing, but not at the cost of their liberty, Mr. Simpson.


Federal appeals court refuses to hear mental health case

On Tuesday, the federal appeals court for the ninth circuit declined a petition to rehear a case brought by an individual seeking to have his gun rights restored after he became a prohibited person following an involuntary psychiatric commitment more than twenty years ago. In the dissent to this decision, Judge Bumatay said “Today, our court advances an extraordinarily sweeping view of government power. Against the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, we hold that the government may forever deprive a person of the individual right to bear arms—if that person spends even one day committed involuntarily, even as a juvenile, and no matter the person’s current mental health soundness. Of course, we only adopt this view for the Second Amendment. For other, more fashionable constitutional rights, we would not countenance such an abridgment.”

Even all the way back in the colonial era, individuals with mental health issues were only denied the right to bear arms when they were mentally unsound - there is no historical basis for continuing to deny this fundamental right after someone has recovered. That the ninth circuit believes the right to self-defense should be denied to someone despite all evidence pointing to their mental wellness only serves to underscore the importance of electing the right people so that judges come to constitutionally correct outcomes.


Richmond, VA bans carry at permitted events

On Tuesday the Richmond, Virginia city council passed a new ordinance banning the transportation, possession, or carrying of “any firearms in any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way or any open public space when it is being used by, or is adjacent to, an event that requires a city permit.” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who pushed for the ordinance’s passage, said “I just think that if you’re going to a public event, you should be able to go there and enjoy yourself, go there for your cause, and not feel under constant threat because of individuals walking around with an AK-47.” For one obviously carry concealed, and for another, let’s be real. We never see AK47’s just walking around. Those are AKMs.

Per the language of the new ordinance, and according to one of the city council members, there are no exceptions for people that live adjacent to these events, which means that if a rally is being held across the street from your house and you’re trying to leave your house to enter your vehicle, you may have violated the ordinance. So while anti-gun folks may get a warm and fuzzy feeling from not seeing any scary big black rifles, it’s at the expense of ordinary, law-abiding people, who simply want to travel with actual security - firearms they carry for personal defense. 


Calls to prosecute big igloo fans

On Wednesday, a couple of clowns from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism wrote an article complaining about how there aren’t enough domestic terrorism laws to prosecute people who like wearing Hawaiian shirts and bearing arms. Their claim is that because two suspects were arrested for allegedly trying to support Hamas—an Iranian-backed terrorist organization based in Palestine whose primary mission is overthrowing the Israeli government—there should be more laws allowing the federal government to target people in the United States.

As the Supreme Court explained in Bond v. United States all the way back in 2014, the drafting of criminal law traditionally falls within the purview of the states. Drafting a national anti-terrorism law infringes upon the right of states to govern their own affairs, and its passage would lead not only to the expansion of an already bloated and generally incompetent federal government, but would permit state-sanctioned acts of terror and domestic casualties. If the feds are so concerned about anti-government sentiment, maybe they should reflect on their actions before granting themselves more authority to persecute the People. Or perhaps they’re just accelerationists? Who knows.


“Pro-Second Amendment” names added to President Trump’s SCOTUS list

On Wednesday, President Trump released a new short-list of names for potential Supreme Court nominees, many of whom view the right to keep and bear arms in a positive light (almost as if it’s written in the Constitution or something). Two judges on the list, Kyle Duncan and James Ho, both support overturning federal laws like the restriction on handgun sales to non-residents. Other names on that list include Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has previously opposed “may issue” permit statutes and magazine capacity restrictions.


Petition to rescind Trudeau’s gun ban has massive support

Justin Trudeau upset a lot of Canadians when he banned “military style” firearms by executive fiat at the beginning of the summer. How many people were bothered? At least 230,000, according to the CBC. That’s how many people signed an online petition to defeat the ban, and its the petition with the highest number of signatures since the process went online five years ago. Canadian police have already explained that the ban likely won’t affect criminal activity in their jurisdictions, and because the ban is opposed by people from across Canada’s political spectrum, it will be interesting to see how Trudeau’s Administration and the Canadian parliament respond. I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll hold out hope for our frosty brothers.


Progress in fight to restore right to carry at the New Hampshire capital

In 2018, a Democrat-controlled New Hampshire legislature passed a law banning firearms possession at the state house and shortly after, State Representative John Burt filed a lawsuit, claiming that the ban violated his gun rights under the New Hampshire Constitution. Attempting to sidestep the issue, the state’s lower court claimed that it lacked the authority to hear Burt’s case because of the separation of powers doctrine. This year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court corrected the lower court, explaining that because the issue raised in the case was the exercise of a constitutional right, the lower court has the authority to hear the case. While this isn’t an outright victory for gun owners in New Hampshire, it means that Mr. Burt will be able to plead his case in the lower court, which will hopefully result in overturning the legislature’s firearms ban.