Newsletter: One Federal Judge Upholds New York’s Church Gun Ban, Another Tosses a Felon-in-Possession Charge

The post-Bruen legal landscape had a few more brush strokes added to it this week. A pair of federal court rulings tested the limits of the Second Amendment.

In New York, a judge ruled against a group of Jewish worshipers who were trying to block the state’s near-total ban on carrying a gun in a synagogue–or any other place of worship for that matter. That ruling came despite the fact that several other judges have found the provision unconstitutional and New York itself has already abandoned it. But the reasoning in the ruling reveals one of the key points of contention in determining what constitutes an acceptable historical tradition under Bruen‘s 2A test, as Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman explains in a member-exclusive piece.

In Mississippi, another judge found the law against felons owning guns couldn’t withstand the Bruen test. He dismissed a case against a man who was convicted in connection with a deadly bar fight decades ago but was recently arrested again for owning a gun. The judge’s ruling is dripping with contempt for Bruen and the Supreme Court’s overall approach to the Second Amendment, but it’s also a serious examination of the popular rationals that have been used to uphold felon-in-possession charges under the Court’s latest precedent.

We also have a look at an up-and-coming competitive shooter. Writer Stephen Bole interviews and profiles 20-year-old Olympic hopeful Matthew Kutz. It’s a great story of how a kid from small-town Texas went from fearing the recoil of a shotgun to being on the cusp of competing in Olympic Trap at the 2024 Paris games.

And we have information, at least as much as is currently available, on what appears to be an active shooter who was thwarted by an armed civilian at an upscale apartment building just off the Las Vegas strip.

Plus, Popehat’s Ken White joins the podcast to dissect the Hunter Biden gun deal and its political implications. And Jake shows us the new collectible he bought from the Civilian Marksmanship Program!


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Penn Station in New York City
Penn Station in New York City / Stephen Gutowski

Federal Judge Upholds New York’s Synagogue Gun Ban Even After State Abandons it
By Jake Fogleman

An outright ban on licensed gun carry in all places of worship is compatible with the Second Amendment, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick, an Obama appointee, denied a request for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging New York’s law deeming all churches “sensitive places” where civilian gun possession is prohibited. He found that the nation’s historical tradition of gun regulations supported the state’s ability to do so.

“There is a sufficient historical record to support the finding that houses of worship are sensitive places, where it is constitutionally permissible for the state to regulate the carrying of firearms,” Broderick wrote in Goldstein v. Hochul. “There are both laws that specifically outlaw the carrying of weapons in churches or places of worship, and broader founding era regulations that limit the ability for law-abiding individuals to carry weapons in public generally, which would include inside places of worship.”

Click here to continue reading.


A 1911 pistol sits on a table above a leather holster
A 1911 pistol sits on a table above a leather holster / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: What Constitutes a Valid ‘Historical Tradition’ of Gun Regulation? [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

A New York federal judge just ruled that the state’s ban on gun possession in churches is likely constitutional. How he got to that decision may be more interesting than the decision itself.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick denied a request for a preliminary injunction against a provision of New York law deeming all places of worship a “sensitive location” where gun carry is banned. He found that such a ban was consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of gun regulation.

“There is a sufficient historical record to support the finding that houses of worship are sensitive places, where it is constitutionally permissible for the state to regulate the carrying of firearms,” Broderick wrote in Goldstein v. Hochul. “There are both laws that specifically outlaw the carrying of weapons in churches or places of worship, and broader founding era regulations that limit the ability for law-abiding individuals to carry weapons in public generally, which would include inside places of worship.”

That “historical record” of “founding era” regulations Broderick identified relied heavily upon a series of laws, passed primarily in southern states and western territories between 1870-1889, that banned gun carrying into churches and other places of worship. That analysis, with its emphasis on late 19th-century historical analogues, marks a serious departure from how other judges have handled challenges to New York’s law to date.

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A revolver on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A revolver on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

 

Federal Judge Tosses Gun Possession Case Against Convicted Felon
By Jake Fogleman

Being convicted of a felony–even a violent one–is not enough to deprive someone of their Second Amendment rights for life, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee, dismissed a felon-in-possession of a firearm prosecution against Jesse Bullock, a Mississippi man, on Wednesday. Judge Reeves ruled that the federal government failed to meet its burden of showing that the historical tradition of firearms regulation supported permanently disarming Bullock for his past crimes, as required under the Supreme Court’s latest precedent.

“The government’s arguments for permanently disarming Mr. Bullock, however, rest upon the mirage of dicta, buttressed by a cloud of law review articles that do not support disarming him,” Judge Reeves wrote in United States v. Bullock. “In Bruen, the State of New York presented 700 years of history to try and defend its early 1900s‐era gun licensing law. That was not enough. Bruen requires no less skepticism here, where the challenged law is even younger.”

Click here to read more.


Matthew Kutz breaks a clay target as it flies through the air
Matthew Kutz breaks a clay target as it flies through the air / USA Shooting

A 20-Year-Old Rising Star Shoots for Gold: Matthew Kutz’s Olympic Chase
By Stephen Bole

It’s June 8th, 2023 in Suhl, Germany, and Matthew Kutz stands at the final firing position with his shotgun ready. He’s waiting for the last target to fly up so he can knock it out of the sky. The crowd around him is silent, dripping with anticipation. The clay disc is launched, and Kutz mirrors its path through the blue background with the bead at the tip of his shotgun just ahead of the orange object. He smoothly squeezes the trigger as the target nears the apex of its travel and snipes it out of the air. A loud cheer resonates around him, and deservedly so—it is Kutz’s 47th hit out of a possible 50 in the final round, earning him a gold medal at the International Shooting Sports Federation Junior World Cup.

Kutz is a self-described “regular college student” at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. Like many 20-year-olds, he enjoys video games (Rainbow Six Siege in particular), pool, foosball, hanging out with his girlfriend, and even just relaxing when he gets a break from his hectic workload.

But, unlike most other kids his age, he also travels the world with his shotgun competing in Olympic Trap.

The Goliad, Texas, native has only been active in the sport for three years, but he’s already racking up accomplishments. He has joined his USA Shooting teammates to compete in locations as far-flung as Germany, Morocco, and Croatia. Now, he is laser-focused on qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Despite his relative newness to the event, Kutz has found it to be his calling.

“There’s so many opportunities that come with it,” he told The Reload. “It’s fast paced and exciting. I fell in love with it.”

Click here if you want to read the rest.


A gunman shoots out glass inside a Las Vegas building before being shot himself
A gunman shoots out glass inside a Las Vegas building before being shot himself / Screenshot

Armed ‘Hero’ Ends Vegas Gunman’s Attack
By Stephen Bole

A Las Vegas man stopped what could have been a deadly attack on Friday by shooting a gunman who opened fire in an apartment complex.

A man wearing a helmet and carrying a rifle can be seen on video apparently shooting through the lobby doors at Turnberry Towers late last week. But the video, posted by a local Vegas-news-focused Twitter account, shows he did not make it much farther before being confronted and shot by somebody else. Several residents of the towers praised the man who stopped the gunman.

“Homberto, who works in receiving is a hero,” said a Twitter user who goes by the name Brianna Dymond, who also posted what appears to be a video of the aftermath. “He shot the armed man and saved so many lives.”

Click here to read the rest.


Podcast: Examining Hunter Biden’s Gun Deal With Popehat’s Ken White
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re looking closely at the deal Hunter Biden struck with federal prosecutors over his 2018 gun purchase while he was using illicit drugs.

That’s why I brought on a former federal prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney Ken White. He’s also a podcast host and writes under the name Popehat. So, he’s able to explain the ins and outs of the indictment and give some analysis of the politics of it all too.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss the surprising failure of the pistol-brace ban repeal resolution in the Senate. And Jake tells us about a collectible gun he bought from the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

You can listen to the episode on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the show is available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members get access on Sunday, as always. Everyone else can listen when the show goes public on Monday.


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Gun-control pins
Gun-control pins sold at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. on March 24th, 2018 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: A Worrying Sign for Gun-Rights Supporters [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

One of the biggest strengths of the gun-rights movement has long been the asymmetry in electoral passion over guns among voters. But that could be changing.

Gun-rights supporters have traditionally been highly passionate about gun policy, willing to engage in the political sphere, and often highly mobilized to vote in elections where they perceive gun rights to be at stake. At the same time, gun-control supporters have tended to be less singularly focused on gun control as a political priority.

Even at times when public sentiment has tilted in favor of stricter gun laws, such as in the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, the gun-rights position has tended to win the day just based on the simple fact that gun control has typically ranked lower on the priority list of voters who support it, behind more kitchen table issues such as the economy, crime, health care, etc.

Even in instances where the gun-control position has achieved victory in the policy sphere, such as in blue state ballot measures, the margins of those victories have almost unanimously been slimmer than general issue polling would have suggested.

Unfortunately for gun-rights advocates, there’s some early evidence that this might be changing.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the restIf not, join today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other analysis pieces!


Outside The Reload

Ninth Circuit seems puzzled by California ban of firearm ads for minors | Courthouse News Service | By Edvard Pettersson

Federal appeals court considers Illinois assault weapons ban | Chicago Sun Times | By Jon Seidel

Fifth Circuit hears argument over ATF’s pistol brace rule | AP News | By Kevin McGill

It’s Shockingly Easy To Buy Illegal Machineguns On Instagram, Facebook And Twitter | Forbes | By  Cyrus Farivar

Maine Senate defeats gun-control proposal to expand background checks | Bangor Daily News | By Billy Kobin

Harvard poll: Most Americans don’t want to live in states with strict gun control | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

More Americans see gun violence as major problem, poll finds | Washington Post | By Mariana Alfaro

NYC buying $90,000 in submachine guns for officers at Rikers | Gothamist | By Matt Katz


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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