The National Rifle Association had a very busy week, and most of it was bad news.
The group entered the second week of its New York corruption trial. Former NRA Board Member Rocky Marshall joined the podcast to discuss his testimony in the case. But it was some of the other testimony in the case that led to new internal turmoil bursting out into public.
Current Board Member Owen “Buz” Mills sent a letter to his colleagues attacking the group’s leadership over the wrongdoing they’ve admitted to in court. And he slammed a plan to make the group’s president, Charles Cotton, the new NRA head after Wayne LaPierre stepped down. We got ahold of the letter and published it below.
But it wasn’t all bad news for the nation’s largest gun-rights group. It got some support in its First Amendment case at the Supreme Court from an unexpected source: the Department of Justice.
That wasn’t the only substantial court action this week either. A federal judge ruled against the Post Office gun ban and an appeals court struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on 18-to-20-year-olds carrying guns during an emergency.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman reports that San Jose is charging upwards of $1,300 for gun-carry permits and he takes a close look at the potential spread of Bruen-response bills beyond those states affected by the Supreme Court ruling. And I examine how the Republican primary seems to be approaching a potential end without gun policy becoming a significant issue.
A prominent member of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Board of Directors shamed Wayne LaPierre and the group’s current President in a letter sent this week.
Owen “Buz” Mills, owner of the Gunsite Academy in Arizona and longtime NRA board member, wrote to his colleagues on Wednesday decrying the state of the organization and plans to keep people he views as responsible for its decline in place. In the letter obtained by The Reload, he told the Board it needed to change how it governs the group because of the numerous admissions of wrongdoing by its top officials in the New York corruption case that began last week.
Former President Donald Trump won the Iowa caucus on Monday. And he did it without having to defend his record on gun policy because none of his opponents have made it an issue in the race.
His remaining opponents, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have done little to try and draw a contrast with Trump on guns. They’ve spent much time going after each other rather than the frontrunner. But, even in criticizing each other, they’ve avoided the topic of firearms.
That’s perhaps a symptom of a larger issue with the campaigns Trump’s opponents have run. Their often tacit or explicit endorsement of the idea that Trump won the last election and all of his legal problems are illegitimate witch hunts has severely undermined the viability of their own candidacies. After all, if Trump really won the last election and he hasn’t committed any crimes, why shouldn’t Republican primary voters just pick him again?
To be fair, DeSantis and Haley have been more willing to criticize his policy record on some fronts, such as his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet that willingness hasn’t often extended to how Trump has handled gun policy.
DOJ Partially Backs NRA in Supreme Court First Amendment Case
By Stephen Gutowski
The Department of Justice (DOJ) thinks a New York official violated the First Amendment rights of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
DOJ filed a brief that didn’t side with either party in the upcoming Supreme Court case but ultimately settled on the idea the official infringed the NRA’s free speech rights. The Department argued Maria Vullo, the former Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, made threats toward the NRA’s former insurance partners that constituted coercion. It encouraged the Court to find that Vullo’s conduct was unconstitutional.
“The allegations in petitioner’s operative complaint, taken as true, state a plausible claim that respondent violated the First Amendment by coercing regulated entities to terminate their business relationships with petitioner in an effort to suppress petitioner’s advocacy,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in an NRA v. Vullo amicus brief.
San Jose Police Now Charging More Than $1,300 for Gun-Carry Permits
By Jake Fogleman
Residents of Silicon Valley’s largest city looking to obtain a concealed carry permit through their local police department need to be prepared to shell out serious money to do so.
The San Jose Police Department is now charging applicants for a license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) an “initial application fee” of $1,290, according to its website. That price does not cover the state-mandated California Department of Justice application fee, nor does it include the costs of fingerprinting, psychological testing, or any expenses incurred to obtain the 16-hour training course required under state law.
Additionally, the Department’s application portal stipulates that it is currently only issuing licenses valid for one year instead of the two-year duration spelled out under California law and adopted by most other jurisdictions.
Post Office Gun Ban Ruled Unconstitutional
By Jake Fogleman
The federal ban on firearms possession in post offices is unconstitutional.
In a Saturday ruling, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle determined that the blanket ban violated the Second Amendment rights of a former postal employee who was charged with illegally possessing a gun in a federal facility. She dismissed part of the man’s indictment after concluding that a total gun ban in post offices is “incongruent with the American tradition of firearms regulation.”
“The Supreme Court has been clear: the government must point to historical principles that would permit it to prohibit firearms possession in post offices,” Judge Mizelle wrote in United States v. Ayala. “The United States fails to meet that burden. Thus, I dismiss the § 930(a) charge because it violates Ayala’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
The Keystone State cannot ban 18–20-year-olds from publicly carrying firearms during declared states of emergency, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
In a 2-1 decision, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel blocked Pennsylvania from enforcing a trio of state statutes that together prohibit people between the ages of 18 and 20 from legally carrying firearms when a state of emergency is declared. The majority opinion, which reversed a lower court ruling, centered around the age at which the Second Amendment’s text protects Americans.
“The words ‘the people’ in the Second Amendment presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18- to-20-year-olds, and we are aware of no founding-era law that supports disarming people in that age group,” Judge Kent A. Jordan wrote in Lara v. Comm’r Pa. State Police. “Accordingly, we will reverse and remand.”
Podcast: Former NRA Board Member on His Testimony in the Corruption Case
By Stephen Gutowski
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) corruption trial in New York began this week, and we have the first witness called in the case on the show with us.
Rocky Marshall is a former NRA board member and the first to receive votes for executive vice president against Wayne LaPierre in decades. He has also been a vocal critic of LaPierre, other key members of leadership, and outside counsel Bill Brewer. He blames their mismanagement and misconduct for the NRA’s current downward spiral.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss the whiplash Californians must feel as gun carry was made lawful again by a federal court ruling.
Analysis: Bruen-Response Bills Begin to Spread [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman
Two states that weren’t affected by the Supreme Court’s 2022 New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling are set to consider expansive “sensitive place” restrictions for licensed gun carriers this year anyway.
The bills bear a striking resemblance to response laws passed by most of the states forced by Bruen to loosen their permitting requirements. While those states have complied with that aspect of the ruling, they’ve also severely restricted where people with permits are allowed to carry a gun.
Lawmakers in Washington state introduced SB 5444 on Monday. The bill would make it a misdemeanor offense to “knowingly possess” a weapon in public libraries, zoos, aquariums, any park or recreational facility where children are likely to be present, transit facilities, and all state or local public buildings.
Meanwhile, a draft bill leaked by the gun-rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners on Thursday revealed Colorado lawmakers plan to introduce an even more expansive gun-free zones measure.
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Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.