The last couple of weeks have given Second Amendment supporters on the West coast a bit of hope. A couple of recent court decisions have astonishingly been in favor of Second Amendment rights in the uber extreme anti-gun/anti-Constitutional United States Ninth Circuit. While it’s good to see a little positive news, we need to keep in mind where we are and what the end result will likely be.
Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing court opinions that recognize the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Anything that keeps our rights from being infringed further, or pushes back on infringements already allowed to be in place, is a step in the right direction. But sadly, we’ve been down this road before and it’s difficult for us on the left coast to think Constitutional rights recognized in other parts of the country will ever be available to us here.
For those not paying close attention, there have been a couple of cases of note. In the case of Duncan v. Becerra, a panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the 2017 federal district-court injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of California’s confiscatory ban on so-called “high-capacity” magazines.
This is a significant ruling since somewhere between hundreds of thousands to millions of law-abiding California residents who were able to keep their standard capacity magazines after 2000 because they were “grandfathered”, would have been forced to surrender the property or become instant criminals due to the 2016 Senate Bill 1446 and Proposition 63.
If nothing else this case shows why anytime you see the words “grandfathered” in a law, you should read it as “delayed confiscation” since the transition from “grandfathered” to “illegal” is only a matter of time.
The second case of note is Young v Hawaii. In this case, a panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court upholding Hawaii’s ban on public open carry of firearms. This ruling struck down Hawaii’s restrictions, finding that the Second Amendment protects a broad right to openly carry weapons.
It’s important to note that the County of Hawaii claims to not have a ban on open carry; it merely requires a permit to do so. However, the County of Hawaii has never issued such a permit. In other words, they have placed the completely subjective requirements so high; they do in fact have a complete ban on carrying a firearm in public.
The mistake made by the County of Hawaii is they didn’t give out a few token permits so it was easy to prove they had no intention of ever issuing a permit. Even in some of the most anti-gun/anti-conceal carry counties in California — mine included — the issuing authorities give out a precious few conceal carry permits to family, friends and other elite people.
If you think this sounds a little like the Peruta v. San Diego, you’re right. In Peruta, the argument was that since California outlawed open carry, then the only legal way to “bear arms” is concealed carry, and for this Peruta was denied. The rest of the story for Peruta has already played out as the en banc court upheld the lower court ruling stating “there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public” and the United States Supreme Court rejected the petition for a writ of certiorari.
The third bit of interesting / good news is the case of Defense Distributed’s agreement with the U.S. Government. Originally blocked from posting 3-D firearm blueprints as a national security risk, Defense Distributed will now be allowed to post and distribute as they originally intended.
While this in and of itself is good news, it’s the wording in the agreement that is more interesting. The U.S. Government is admitting that non-fully automatic firearms under 50 caliber and magazines with capacity fewer than 50 rounds do NOT meet the definition of “military equipment”.
How many times have you heard the anti-gun politicians, zealots and elitists refer to semi-automatic firearms as “military grade” or “weapons of war” based solely on their cosmetic features or that they are simply semi-automatic? Very similar to Constitutional rights being available to citizens based on their geography in this country, anti-gun politicians like to pick and choose when something is and isn’t a “weapon of war”.
What these examples show us is maybe; just maybe there is a little hope for Second Amendment rights after all. But in Duncan v. Becerra and Young v Hawaii, we have to remember the chances of these rulings being upheld by an en banc court in the Ninth Circuit are slightly less than zero. While an appeal of both to the Supreme Court is fully expected, the Supreme Court has shown no interest in revisiting the Second Amendment since Heller and McDonald. Even the pending appointment of a new pro-Second Amendment associate justice will not guarantee acceptance of these cases or a favorable ruling.
I’ve said it before and I stand by it. Relying on court battles and appeals is a horrible way to protect the Second Amendment. At best, it’s a crapshoot and the odds are 50/50 at best, or in the case of the Ninth Circuit, slightly below zero.
The best way to protect our Second Amendment rights is at the ballot box. It starts with your local city/county council and extends through to your state and federal representatives. Every single seat occupied by someone who does not believe you have a right to defend yourself and your family at home and in public, to be able to freely purchase the firearms and ammunition you need to do so, with the firearms and accessories best suited to your individual need — means we are going to lose more rights and have to battle in court to win them back.
There’s a joke at my house about movie endings. Whenever the topic comes up, my standard reply is ‘they all die’. This article’s title is Rebellions Are Built On Hope, borrowed at great risk of an all out attack from the dark side (Disney) over quoting Rogue One. The ending was one of the few times my prediction held true. I’d prefer to not have that be true here.
Our country was founded on hope, hope for a better country, freedom from oppression and the protection of our inalienable rights. After so many setbacks, Second Amendment supports have a little bit of hope right now and our non-violent rebellion is energized. However, this hope may be short-lived and we will once again be plunged back into darkness for a while. Before that happens, I encourage all of us to get out, get involved and get candidates who will support the Second Amendment for what it really is before it is too late.
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