Newsletter: Report Shows Maine Shooter Should Have Been Disarmed

We now have confirmation of what I long suspected: there was more than enough cause to disarm the man who carried out Maine’s worst mass shooting under the state’s current laws. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman explains the top-line results of a new report on the shooting and the failures that led up to it.

The NRA is back in the news, too. Its political fundraising has now fallen behind its gun-control counterparts, which is bad news for the gun group and former President Donald Trump. But it wasn’t all bad news for the NRA since, as I explain for members, oral arguments in its First Amendment case at the Supreme Court seemed to go in its favor.

Then we have two analysis pieces from two prominent gun-rights lawyers that take a different view on whether non-violent illegal immigrants are protected by the Second Amendment, as a federal judge ruled recently. The pieces are available for everyone, and I think you’ll get a lot of value out of reading both of them.

In a piece that’s just for Reload Members, I explore how California’s struggle to confiscate guns from people it knows are prohibited possessors is yet another sign mass confiscation is exceedingly unrealistic. I’ve corrected a typo and math error in the piece and added a note acknowledging that since the piece was first published. The mistakes didn’t undercut the argument in the piece, but it’s important to make sure we’re transparently correcting them just the same.

Plus, the man leading armed civilians on patrols of Hartford, Connecticut’s most dangerous neighborhoods joined the podcast. We also had a Reload Member on the show this week.

And The Dispatch is back as a sponsor this week, which means you can get a 90-day free trial that gives you access to their outstanding original reporting.

black car on road during night time
A police car with its lights flashing / Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Report: Police Could Have Used ‘Yellow Flag’ Law on Maine Mass Shooter Before Attack
By Jake Fogleman

Police could and should have taken the Lewiston gunman into custody and seized his weapons weeks before he carried out his attack, according to a new report.

On Friday, an independent commission investigating the failures that preceded the October 25 mass shooting released its findings. The report primarily faulted the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office for failing to take advantage of Maine’s temporary emergency gun confiscation statute, also known as the “Yellow Flag” law, despite having legal grounds to do so. It also accused the office of failing to follow up with the shooter’s family to ensure that he was being cared for and that he no longer had access to weapons.

“The Commission is unanimous in finding that in September 2023, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) had sufficient probable cause to take Robert Card Jr. into protective custody under Maine’s Yellow Flag law and to remove his firearms and that the SCSO had probable cause to believe that Mr. Card posed a likelihood of serious harm,” Daniel E. Wathen, the commission chair, wrote in the 30-page report.

Click here to read the rest.

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

Gun-Control Groups Outraise NRA Political Operation in February
By Stephen Gutowski

The National Rifle Association fell behind its political opponents in fundraising last month, according to federal records.

The gun-rights group’s political action committee raised just under half a million dollars in February, according to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing. Meanwhile, leading gun-control groups raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

The downturn in fundraising puts the nation’s leading gun-rights group’s political influence at risk. It comes fast on the heels of a jury finding the NRA failed to safeguard its charitable funds, and its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre caused millions of dollars in harm by diverting those funds toward his lavish personal expenses. The scandal that preceded that verdict has already cost the organization more than a million members, and it’s unclear how many remain. That shrinking donor base is likely driving the NRA’s political fundraising decline.

Click here to read more.

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The doors to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
The doors to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: SCOTUS Oral Arguments Bode Well For NRA First Amendment Claim [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

The National Rifle Association may soon achieve its first significant win in quite a while.

This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the struggling gun-rights behemoth’s First Amendment case against a former New York financial regulator. While predicting the outcome of a case based solely on what happens in arguments is perilous, the questions asked by the justices can provide some insight into how they feel about the case. In NRA v. Vullo, a sizable majority of the Court seemed on board with the idea the gun group’s rights have been abused.

Let’s start with the most vocal justices.

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 pieces!

FN pistols on display at the 2024 SHOT Show
FN pistols on display at the 2024 SHOT Show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: All Immigrants are Part of ‘The People’ Protected by the Second Amendment
By Matt Larosiere

On Friday, in US v. Heriberto Carbajal-Flores, a federal judge said 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5)’s ban on illegal immigrants owning guns violates the Second Amendment. That decision was right.

The answer to the core question here–whether illegal immigrants have Second Amendment rights under Bruen–really hinges on two sub-issues: first, what the framers meant by “the people,” and second, the criminal implications of unlawful immigration. The two wind up being frustratingly intertwined, but we’ll do our best to keep the analysis as linear as possible. Ultimately, it appears to me that disarmament based on immigration status alone is not consistent with the Second Amendment.

Click here to continue reading.

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

Analysis: SCOTUS is Unlikely to Agree Second Amendment Protections Extend to People Unlawfully in the US
By Kostas Moros

On Friday, in US v. Heriberto Carbajal-Flores, a federal judge said 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5)’s ban on illegal immigrants owning guns violates the Second Amendment. That decision likely misapplies the Supreme Court’s key test for gun cases.

In discussing the extent of the Second Amendment’s application, it’s important to first understand the distinction between that amendment and the natural right to keep and bear arms it was born out of. In natural rights philosophy, self-defense is the first law of nature. It is inherent to all people, and can only be morally restricted if an individual has demonstrated that they are dangerous to others without justification. Like any other person, an illegal immigrant has the natural right of self-defense and, therefore, by necessity in the modern age, the right to keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment, by contrast, is an attempted codification of that preexisting right. It’s “inspired by” it, but it comes with its own historical context, limitations, and idiosyncrasies. Given that, we should not be surprised when the Second Amendment does not reach the expansiveness of its philosophical inspiration.

Click here to read the full piece.

Podcast: The Man Behind Armed Civilian Patrols in Connecticut’s Capital City Speaks Out
By Stephen Gutowski

Crime is a significant problem in Hartford, Connecticut, and some residents don’t think local politicians and law enforcement are doing enough to combat it.

Some of those residents have now decided to do organized armed patrols in Hartford’s more dangerous neighborhoods. Cornell Lewis is one of the people doing that organizing. He runs a group called the Self-Defense Brigade, and he joined the show this week to explain his group’s tactics and motivations.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss a federal appeals court upholding Rhode Island’s magazine ban. And we have a Reload Member on to discuss his experience as a recent convert to gun ownership in Washington, D.C.

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. An auto-generated transcript is available here.

A gun emblazoned with the Gadsden Flag on display at the 2024 SHOT Show
A gun emblazoned with the Gadsden Flag on display at the 2024 SHOT Show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: California’s Struggle to Seize Criminal Guns Shows the Impracticality of Mass Confiscation [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

California keeps having trouble taking guns away from the kind of people most Americans agree shouldn’t have them, even though it has a database full of their information. That says a lot about how unworkable mass confiscation would actually be in real life.

The Golden State crosschecks everyone in the state who has recently become prohibited from owning guns against its gun registry. It’s called the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS), and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report on its performance this week. It bragged that it removed more people from the list than were added to it in 2023.

“In 2023, DOJ removed 9,051 people from the APPS database of armed and prohibited persons,” the report said. “At the same time, 8,633 people were added to the APPS database of armed and prohibited persons.”

The system has been running since 2006, and this is just the fourth time it has removed more suspected prohibited possessors from the list than it added. The DOJ also reported making more contacts during its investigations than ever before. But it only reduced the number of suspected prohibited possessors by 1.75 percent.

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

Does Having a Gun Make a Person Suspicious? Courts Aren’t Sure Now. | New York Times | By Karen Zraick

James Crumbley, who bought gun used by son to kill 4 students, found guilty of manslaughter | AP News | By Ed White

Colorado ‘assault weapon’ ban passes House committee after failing last year | Colorado Sun | By Jesse Paul

More New Yorkers are applying for gun permits. The NYPD won’t say how many they granted. | Gothamist | By Samantha Max

US appeals court upholds gun bans as bail condition | Reuters | By Nate Raymond

The Gun Groups Scrambling to Fill the NRA’s Void | The Trace | By Will Van Sant

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.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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