The Supreme Court is slated to take up its first gun case since last year’s landmark Bruen decision. And the outcome is much more unpredictable than that of its predecessor.
Certainly, it was predictable the Court would have to take up a case about who can be prohibited from owning guns and why. In fact, we did predict it. But, United States v. Rahimi, the case the Court picked presents a lot of difficulting in forecasting what decision might come from it.
Still, we talked to experts from across the political spectrum to try and get a gauge on just that. Most weren’t willing to make exact predictions, but there were still several areas of agreement. Plus, as I note in a member exclusive piece, several singled out a potential Achilles’ heel in the federal law being challenged.
This week also gave us new information on the gun market. Turns out June saw a pretty huge decline in sales. What does that mean going forward?
As a bonus for our free subscribers, I wrote an analysis of the gun sales numbers. Usually, those are member exclusives. This week it’s in front of the paywall.
We also have a new poll that shows crime in New York is motivating people to head the gun store. 20 AGs joined a legal fight against Delaware’s AR-15 ban. And I take a member-exclusive look at President Joe Biden’s snowballing court defeats.
Plus, author Mark W. Smith gives an in-depth explanation of where he thinks the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment case is going.
Experts See Uncertainty in New Supreme Court Gun Case
By Stephen Gutowski
The nation’s highest court is set to decide a new Second Amendment case, but how the justices might come down is murky at best.
A collection of experts from across the ideological spectrum who have spent decades studying the Second Amendment and American gun laws told The Reload United States v. Rahimi presents a unique challenge for the Court that will likely flush out its new test for gun cases. But they were less confident about the direction the justices might take or the conclusion they might arrive at.
“It is still too early to tell what the Supreme Court will do in Rahimi,” George Mason University professor Robert Leider, who writes about the Second Amendment and teaches at the Antonin Scalia Law School, said.
Rahimi will be the first gun case the Supreme Court takes up since it handed down a new Second Amendment test in last year’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. It is an appeal of a Fifth Circuit panel’s ruling that found the federal ban on those subject to domestic violence restraining orders possessing guns was unconstitutional under the Bruen test. It stems from a case against a Texas man who pled guilty to violating a restraining order his child’s mother had against him over accusations he assaulted her when police found he had guns in his home. The police were able to search his home and find the guns because he is also accused of carrying out multiple shootings unrelated to the situation with his ex-girlfriend.
Academics and scholars who study the Second Amendment are uncertain about how the Supreme Court’s latest gun case will come out. Most who talked to The Reload think the Court will uphold the law being challenged, but a few say there’s a little-known and potentially-irreconcilable weakness.
Late last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear United States v. Rahimi. It deals with whether the federal ban on those subject to domestic violence restraining orders possessing guns is unconstitutional. A Fifth Circuit panel said it is, but most experts recently told The Reload they expect the Supreme Court could go the other way.
Still, none of them were entirely sure. And several brought up one particular aspect of the federal prohibition that could ultimately doom it: the fact it is achieved via a civil proceeding that provides fewer due process protections than criminal trials.
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June Gun Sales Down Nearly 20 Percent From Last Year
By Stephen Bole
Background checks on gun sales for June 2023 were down nearly 20 percent from June 2022, according to a report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The industry group estimated there were 1,110,696 gun sales in June 2023. That is a 19.6 percent decrease from the June 2022 total of 1,382,287. The figures show a continuation of the downward trend sales have seen since setting all-time records in 2020. The numbers for the entire second quarter also show a decline compared to last year. This year’s 3,654,134 second-quarter sales mark a decline of 6.7 percent from 2022’s 3,916,986.
The decline in both June and second-quarter gun sales figures means the market is the closest it has been to pre-2020 levels. With Americans continuing to purchase fewer guns year over year, it remains in question where the market will settle after the 2020 spike.
Analysis: Where is the Bottom of the Gun Market?
By Stephen Gutowski
The firearms market declined significantly in June, continuing a years-long trend. So, where is the bottom?
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) analysis of FBI background check data for last month suggests the 1,110,696 sales it achieved is down nearly 20 percent from the previous June. It’s down almost 50 percent from the all-time June sales record of 2,177,586 set in 2020.
Poll: New Yorkers Concerned Over Crime, Purchasing Guns in Response
By Jake Fogleman
New Yorkers are turning to firearms to protect themselves from crime, even as the state has ramped up restrictions on carrying them for self-defense.
A new Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) poll released Wednesday found that 87 percent of New Yorkers say crime is a serious problem in the state today, and 61 percent are either very or somewhat concerned that they might be a victim of a crime. In response, roughly one in eight respondents said they purchased a firearm for self-defense in the past 12 months, including more than one in six respondents living in New York City.
20 AGs File Brief Challenging Delaware AR-15, Magazine Ban
By Stephen Bole
A coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general requested the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a Delaware district court decision upholding bans on “assault weapons” and large capacity magazines (LCMs).
The coalition, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R.), filed the amicus brief Monday to support the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association (DSSA) in their case against the bans. The DSSA has argued that two Delaware bills violate the Second Amendment. The bills impose bans on over 40 semi-automatic “assault long guns,” 19 semi-automatic “assault pistols,” copycat weapons, and magazines capable of holding more than 17 rounds of ammunition.
Podcast: Author Mark W. Smith Explains the New Supreme Court Gun Case
By Stephen Gutowski
The Supreme Court just agreed to take up a brand new Second Amendment case. So, we’ve got author and member of the Supreme Court bar Mark W. Smith on the show this week.
Smith, who also hosts the Four Boxes Diner YouTube channel, joins to talk about the ins and outs of United States v. Rahimi. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Second Amendment protects the right of those subject to a domestic violence restraining order to own guns. And, as Smith notes, it will be doing so for one of the least sympathetic defendants imaginable because Rahimi is the suspect in a long list of violent crimes.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about President Biden’s “ghost gun” ban being vacated. And I discuss my continued frustrations with trying to renew my concealed carry permit.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members get early access on Sunday, as always. It will be available for everyone else on Monday.
Analysis: Biden’s Gun Agenda Battered Again in Court [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
The President has hit another setback in court, and it’s only going to get worse for him from here.
Just over a week ago, Judge Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor vacated the ATF rule that redefined what constitutes a firearm in an effort from Joe Biden to bring homemade guns under the agency’s purview. He found the rule expanded the agency’s power beyond its constitutional bounds and contradicted the statutory language it was interpreting.
“This case presents the question of whether the federal government may lawfully regulate partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials in keeping with the Gun Control Act of 1968,” Judge O’Connor wrote in Vanderstok v. Garland. “Because the Court concludes that the government cannot regulate those items without violating federal law, the Court holds that the government’s recently enacted Final Rule… is unlawful agency action taken in excess of the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. On this basis, the Court vacates the Final Rule.”
The “ghost gun” ban is just the latest domino to fall in the legal fight against Biden’s executive actions. The first was the bump stock ban. Implemented by President Donald Trump but defended by the Biden Administration, the successful case against it in the Fifth Circuit laid the groundwork for the fight against the other ATF rules that came after.
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Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.