President Biden’s gun agenda was dealt a final blow in court this week. And The Reload‘s exclusive reporting was cited in the decision.
A Fifth Circuit panel found the President’s pistol-brace ban unlawful. If you look at the footnotes, you’ll find a reference to The Reload’s story on the aftermath of the rule going into effect. If you zoom out from the brace ban, though, you’ll also notice this is the third loss in a row for ATF rules the Biden Administration has implemented or defended.
Surprisingly, none of them were defeated on Second Amendment grounds. I explain in a piece for members what legal theory gun-rights advocates used to beat them instead.
That wasn’t the only significant ruling this week. In fact, gun-control advocates scored two wins. One federal judge upheld Connecticut’s “assault weapons” ban and magazine capacity limit while another found the Second Amendment doesn’t protect commercial gun sales.
A Hebrew academy in Memphis, Tennessee also experienced an attempted mass shooting on Monday. But the school’s security protocols kept the shooter away from the staff and students. He was eventually shot and arrested by police, with the school’s safety program serving as a potential template to prevent or mitigate future attacks.
Also, we’re awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not to intervene in the case against Biden’s “ghost gun” ban. We will likely get a decision on that point by the end of the day. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman has gone through the possible outcomes of the Court’s ruling in a member-exclusive piece.
Plus, Reason Magazine’s JD Tuccille joins the podcast to explain a study showing many Americans don’t tell researchers they own guns. And I talk about my range day with the National Journalism Center.
Fifth Circuit Says Biden Pistol-Brace Ban ‘Unlawful’
By Stephen Gutowski
The ATF broke the law when crafting its rule requiring the destruction or registration of guns with pistol braces.
That’s the ruling a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel handed down on Tuesday. In a two-to-one ruling, the panel found the ATF exceeded its authority in trying to reclassify braced guns and subject them to greater regulation under federal law. It determined the agency had illegally crossed the line from enforcing to legislating, and the resulting rule “must be set aside as unlawful or otherwise remanded for appropriate remediation.”
“The Final Rule affects individual rights, speaks with the force of law, and significantly implicates private interests,” Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote for the majority in Mock v. Garland. “Thus, it is legislative in character.”
The federal courts have quickly dismantled President Joe Biden’s gun agenda over the past few months. And they’ve done it without citing Second Amendment protections.
At first glance, this seems odd since the Supreme Court broadened what kind of conduct is protected by the amendment during the same period. In 2022’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, SCOTUS found the Second Amendment protected public gun carry in the same way gun ownership is protected under 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller. Since then, federal courts have blocked multiple ATF rules seeking to reclassify, restrict, or ban bump stocks, unfinished gun parts, and firearms equipped with pistol braces.
But none of those rulings were decided by the outcome of Bruen or the test it created for judging the constitutionality of gun laws. Instead, the majority opinions all focused on the ATF’s legal maneuvering in the leadup to and adoption of the rules. That has been the weak point in the Biden Administration’s attempts to enact or defend ATF rulemaking that unilaterally attempted to rework America’s gun laws.
Federal Judge Upholds Connecticut ‘Assault Weapon,’ Magazine Bans
By Jake Fogleman
The Second Amendment does not protect AR-15s and ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, a Bill Clinton appointee, denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against the state of Connecticut’s ban on the possession and sale of so-called assault weapons and large-capacity magazines (LCMs). She did so after determining that AR-15s and similar rifles, as well as LCMs, are not protected by the Constitution.
“Plaintiffs’ proposed ownership of assault weapons and LCMs is not protected by the Second Amendment because they have not demonstrated that the specific assault weapons and LCMs in the Challenged Statutes are commonly sought out, purchased, and used for self-defense,” Arterton wrote in Flanigan v. Lamont. “In the absence of persuasive evidence that the assault weapons or LCMs listed in the statutes are commonly used or are particularly suitable for self-defense, Plaintiffs have failed to carry their burden.”
An assailant has been charged, and a coordinated safety plan has been credited with saving students’ lives at a Jewish school in Memphis, Tennessee.
Local law enforcement announced charges on Wednesday night against a suspect over an attempted shooting at the Margolin Hebrew Academy. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they have charged a 33-year-old man from Stanton, Tennessee, with five different charges related to the attack on the school and later shootout with police that left him hospitalized. Memphis Police and the Secure Community Network (SCN), which helped stop the attack and catch the suspect, touted the security measures at the school for effectively stopping whatever the gunman had planned.
“The suspect did try to enter the building armed with a gun,” Memphis Police Assistant Chief Don Crowe said during a Monday press conference. “When he could not gain entry, he fired shots outside the school. Thankfully that school had a great safety procedure and process in place and avoided anyone being harmed or injured at the scene.”
An Amish man’s conviction for selling firearms without a license does not run afoul of the Constitution and must be allowed to stand, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Leeson, an Obama appointee, denied a motion to set aside the felony conviction of Reuben King. He rejected the arguments raised by King and his lawyers that the trial court improperly applied the Bruen test when he initially moved to have his charges dismissed on constitutional grounds.
“If the Second Amendment’s plain text covers certain conduct, then the government may regulate that conduct only by demonstrating that the regulation ‘is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,’” Leeson wrote in his opinion. “Contrary to King’s argument, the Court did employ that analysis in its prior opinion. It simply never discussed the second part of the analysis because King’s conduct did not make it past the first part. In other words, the Second Amendment’s plain text does not cover the commercial sale of firearms. As a result, there is no need to discuss whether the Act is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
This week, we’re looking at a recent study that found a substantial number of gun owners may be unwilling to tell pollsters they own guns.
To help illuminate some of the significant implications of the research, we have Reason Magazine’s JD Tuccille joining us. He did a great piece on the study over at Reason and had several important insights.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss the NYPD withholding gun permits even after the Supreme Court’s latest Second Amendment ruling. And I talk about how the National Journalism Center’s range day went (hint: pretty great).
The Department of Justice has just launched a Hail Mary request for the Supreme Court to step in and reinstate the Biden administration’s “ghost gun” ban. It’s not yet clear how the Justices will respond.
On Thursday, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to stay a Texas federal judge’s nationwide order vacating the ATF’s rule on unfinished frames and receivers in VanDerStok v. Garland. That order was narrowed slightly but left in place this week by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals while it prepares to hear the case on its merits.
“The district court’s universal vacatur is irreparably harming the public and the government by reopening the floodgates to the tide of untraceable ghost guns flowing into our Nation’s communities,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar (D.) wrote in her SCOTUS stay application. “This Court should stay the district court’s vacatur in full. A stay would prevent further irreparable harm to the public while allowing the litigation in this case and other challenges to the Rule to proceed in the ordinary course.”
The emergency stay application was enough to get the Justices’ attention, prompting Justice Samuel Alito on Friday to issue a temporary administrative stay on the district court’s ruling for one week. He also requested the parties to the case to submit briefs before the temporary stay expires. With such immediate action, it’s worth examining the possible outcomes for a significant portion of the President’s gun-control agenda.
If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the rest. If not, join today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other analysis pieces!
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.