Newsletter: NRA Leaders Haven’t Given Up Private Jet Travel

We have more exclusive news for you this week. The man best positioned to take over control of the NRA has a similar PR problem to the one who just lost control of it: private jets.

Speaking of people in similar situations, Hunter Biden got bad news this week when a federal appeals court rejected his request to have his gun charges tossed without a trail. However, a California man’s victory at a different federal appeals court could help him. That’s because a Ninth Circuit panel found the non-violent felon, whose record includes a drug possession charge, is protected by the Second Amendment.

We also have a media criticism piece from The Dispatch’s Kevin Williamson. He picks apart the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-winning expose featuring graphic pictures of mass murder victims–but only ones killed with AR-15s.

Back in the courts, background checks faired well in legal challenges. A federal judge upheld New York’s check for ammo purchases. And Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman argues there is little appetite, even among conservative judges, for striking down even the newest background check requirements.

Plus, Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng joins the podcast to discuss his new $100k fundraiser to prevent gun suicides.


A podium at the 2024 NRA Great American Outdoor Show
A podium at the 2024 NRA Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

NRA President Flew Around on Private Jets With Group’s Lawyer
By Stephen Gutowski 

The potential next head of the National Rifle Association has also taken private jets as part of his work with the gun-rights group.

NRA President Charles Cotton has flown privately with the group’s outside counsel William Brewer, multiple sources told The Reload. The pair have flown together on private jets numerous times.

“It has been ongoing for the past couple years,” a source with knowledge of the flights told The Reload. “First time I remember was early 2022.”

Click here to read more


A selection of pistols at a SHOT Show 2024 booth
A selection of pistols at a SHOT Show 2024 booth / Stephen Gutowski

Ninth Circuit Panel Rules Non-Violent Felons Can Own Guns
By Stephen Gutowski

Another federal appeals court has determined the Second Amendment protects the gun rights of at least some convicted felons.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with defendant Steven Duarte and vacated his conviction. They found the federal ban on felons possessing firearms was unconstitutional as applied to Duarte because his underlying convictions didn’t involve violent crimes.

“Duarte is an American citizen, and thus one of ‘the people’ whom the Second Amendment protects,” Judge Carlos Bea wrote for a 2-1 court in US v. Duarte. “The Second Amendment’s plain text and historically understood meaning therefore presumptively guarantee his individual right to possess a firearm for self-defense. The Government failed to rebut that presumption by demonstrating that permanently depriving Duarte of this fundamental right is otherwise consistent with our Nation’s history.”

Click here to read more.


A line of AR-15 triggers on display at Shot Show 2024
A line of AR-15 triggers on display at Shot Show 2024 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Hunter Biden Gun Trial Looks Set for Election Season [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

One federal appeals court ruled that Hunter Biden’s gun charges could proceed this week, while another added support to his Second Amendment argument against them.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected an attempt by the President’s son to avoid a trial. Biden tried to get the panel to end his case based on his since-retracted agreement with prosecutors. Instead, they decided he didn’t have a claim to avoid prosecution.

“The defendant in this criminal case appealed three pretrial orders entered on April 12, 2024, denying his motions to dismiss the indictment,” the panel wrote in US v. Biden. “This appeal is DISMISSED because the defendant has not shown the District Court’s orders are appealable before final judgment.”

The ruling means the younger Biden is likely to face a federal judge this summer, likely stealing some attention away from the legal troubles of his father’s opponent in November’s election. However, the panel didn’t rule on his underlying Second Amendment defense, and another federal court just provided further backing to that argument.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the rest. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access!


The front page of The Washington Post on November 16th, 2023
A picture of the front page of The Washington Post’s website on November 16th, 2023 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: The Pulitzer for Propaganda Goes to…
By Kevin D. Williamson

In 2023, the Washington Post published a series of articles about AR-15-style rifles. The series was scientifically illiterate, error-ridden, propagandistic, and willfully misleading.

Naturally, it has just been awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Here are the facts, not that these matter even a little bit to the Pulitzer committee, members of which declined to answer questions for this column.

Click here to read the full analysis.


An ammunition vendor at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show
An ammunition vendor at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

New York Ammo Background Check Law Upheld
By Jake Fogleman

The Empire State’s requirement that gun owners pass a background check for every ammunition purchase is constitutional, a federal judge has ruled.

On Thursday, US District Judge Frank P. Geraci denied a request by gun-rights advocates to block enforcement of a New York law requiring ammunition sales to be handled by a licensed dealer and subject to a background check for the purchaser. He determined that the law fit within the country’s historical tradition of gun regulation.

“The Court concludes that the ammunition background check requirement is consistent with ‘the well-recognized historical tradition of preventing dangerous individuals from possessing weapons,'” Judge Geraci wrote in New York State Firearms Association v. Chiumento. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not met their burden of showing they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Constitutional challenge.”

Click here to read the rest.


Podcast: The Shooting Champion Raising $100k to Prevent Gun Suicides
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re talking about a new effort to reduce gun suicides.

That’s why we have shooting champion Chris Cheng on the show. The winner of Top Shot season four is trying to raise money for mental health screenings and treatment. He is matching up to $5,000 of small-dollar donations in an effort to raise $100,000 for Walk The Talk America (WTTA).

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.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss the Biden administration’s new rule to restrict firearms exports on the news update. We also talk about the Fifth Circuit’s ruling upholding enhanced background checks for 18-to-20-year-olds and why the results of the latest NRA board elections suggest the members are pushing for change. Then we cover my new piece in The Dispatch and my appearance on CNN talking about Tennessee’s new armed teacher law. Audio is here. Video is here.


Rifles and shotguns on sale at a Virginia gun store in July 2022
Rifles and shotguns on sale at a Virginia gun store in July 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Judges Show Limited Appetite for Upending Background Check Regimes [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Following the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, Second Amendment jurisprudence is more unsettled than it has perhaps ever been. However, judges thus far appear skeptical of disrupting at least one realm of gun law: background check requirements.

Even in novel formats, background check requirements have largely escaped falling victim to the text, history, and tradition-based legal test so many other gun laws have been felled by in the courts. Most recently, the “enhanced” background check requirements for 18-20-year-old gun buyers in the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act were upheld as constitutional by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The [Second Amendment’s] plain text covers plaintiffs’ right ‘to keep and bear arms,'” Judge Jerry E. Smith, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote on behalf of a unanimous panel in McRorey v. Garland. “And on its face ‘keep and bear’ does not include purchase—let alone without background check. That is so in either the contemporary or the Founding-era context.”

As a result, there is now precedent in the country’s most conservative circuit blessing a background check scheme that effectively creates a ten day waiting period. And it’s difficult to see gun-rights challengers having better luck elsewhere.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds of others!


Outside The Reload

New York Seeks to Ban Pistols That Can Be Modified to Fire Like Machine Guns | The Wall Street Journal | By Cameron McWhirter

Bump stock ban, electronic gun sale registry shot down in PA | The Center Square | By Christen Smith

Inside the increasingly ugly GOP fight over a Texas runoff | Politico | By Olivia Beavers and Ally Mutnick

Poll: Louisiana lawmakers went too far on permitless carry | NOLA.com | By John Simerman

Alabama Governor signs bill to ban card companies from tracking gun purchases | AL.com | By Mike Cason

‘L.A. Progressive Shooters,’ offers a gun space for people sick of American gun culture | The Los Angeles Times | By James Queally


That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Thanks,
Stephen Gutowski
Founder
The Reload

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