We had some unexpected legislative action in the Senate on Wednesday. Despite declining to take up the “assault weapons” ban passed by the then-Democratically-controlled House last year, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) decided to bring one to the floor this week.
This did come on the heels of a group of more moderate Democrats introducing a sort of rebrand for the ban last week, the politics of which I examined in a member exclusive. But Wednesday’s effort didn’t go in the direction you might expect and, either way, it didn’t work.
What it did do was provide us with a bit more insight into the state of the fight over AR-15s and other popular firearms. I break down what it tells us in a piece for members.
Another federal gun restriction was found unconstitutional since the last time I emailed you all. A judge found the ban on licensed dealers selling handguns to 18-to-20-year-olds violates the Second Amendment. His ruling has a nationwide effect and was issued without a stay, but it’s likely to be appealed and have one applied at that stage.
Speaking of the courts, gun-rights activists have filed suit against Los Angeles and other California jurisdictions over what they argue are exorbitant fees and onerous gun-carry permit applications. That case will be interesting to watch since it lands so close to the core holding in Bruen.
Gun sales were also up year-over-year in November. So, the market seems to be finding its floor for the first time since sales went soaring in 2020.
Plus, the president of Maryland Shall Issue joins the podcast to discuss his group’s pair of recent court victories and where the cases are headed next.
Senate ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Fails Without Vote
By Stephen Gutowski
A Senate proposal to ban AR-15s and other popular firearms went down without a vote on Wednesday.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) brought Senate Bill 25, the “Assault Weapons” Ban of 2023, to the floor for a vote in the 11 am hour, but it failed shortly afterward. A universal background check and gun storage requirement proposal soon suffered the same fate. None of them received a roll call vote.
The bills failed because they were brought to the floor by unanimous consent requests. As the name implies, the bills would have needed support from every senator to pass. A single senator’s objection can, and in this case did, derail the legislation.
The fight over AR-15s and other popular firearms took a somewhat unexpected turn this week when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) brought a ban to the floor. Its failure, and the particular way it failed, provides a lot of insight into where the fight is at in late 2023.
On Monday, Senator Schumer announced he would bring a bill to ban “assault weapons” to the floor. That was a bit of a surprise since there wasn’t any real buildup to the vote, and none of the proposed bans had been through the normal legislative process. But it did come just a week after a group of more moderate Democrats announced a rebranded ban. So, initially, it seemed this vote might be an effort to capitalize off that political momentum.
After all, three of the four co-sponsors for the Gas-Operated Semi-automatic Firearm Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act have never sponsored a ban on the sale of semi-automatic, centerfire guns with detachable magazines at issue in these bills. That gave it a better, though far from certain, chance of getting at least a majority of the Senate on board.
However, Senator Schumer did not put GOSAFE on the floor. He put up the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 instead.
If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other analysis pieces!
Federal Judge Rules Handgun Sales Ban for 18-20-Year-Olds Unconstitutional
By Stephen Gutowski
The federal ban on licensed dealers selling pistols to adults under 21 is unconstitutional, according to a ruling issued on Friday.
U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas S. Kleeh said the sales ban violates the Second Amendment. He determined there isn’t a historical tradition of barring adults from buying pistols, as required for a gun restriction to be constitutional under the Supreme Court’s latest precedent. He blocked enforcement of the law against the plaintiffs in the case and all 18-to-20-year-olds nationwide.
“[B]ecause Plaintiffs’ conduct – the purchase of handguns – ‘fall[s] [within] the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command’ and the challenged statutes and regulations are not ‘consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation,’” Judge Kleeh wrote in Brown v. ATF, “the Court FINDS 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(b)(1) and (c)(1) facially unconstitutional and as applied to Plaintiffs.”
The ruling is the latest fallout from the 2022 New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision, which struck down that state’s gun-carry law and established a new test for gun laws. Numerous federal and state restrictions have been found unconstitutional since then, with many still working their way through appeals that could ultimately end up at the High Court.
Los Angeles Sued Over Gun-Carry Permit Delays, Excessive Fees
By Jake Fogleman
The Golden State’s most populous county, a city within that county, and the state’s Attorney General have all found themselves in the crosshairs of gun-rights advocates over how they’ve handled carry permit applicants.
The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and several other gun rights groups filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, La Verne Police Department, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.). The suit alleges that each jurisdiction violated the rights of applicants by subjecting them to lengthy delays, charging exorbitant fees, and refusing to issue permits to non-residents.
“These practices and policies, some of which are enabled by state law, violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments,” the complaint in CRPA v. LASD reads.
Gun Sales Climb Again in November
By Stephen Gutowski
For the second month in a row, gun sales have increased compared to 2022.
That’s according to an industry analysis of FBI background check data released on Monday. There were 1,595,476 checks on gun sales in November 2023. That’s up five percent from the previous year. It is the second month in a row to experience a year-over-year increase.
The numbers, compiled by the industry trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), make November 2023 the third-best November on record. They also make it the 52nd month straight to see more than a million gun sales background checks.
Podcast: Maryland Gun-Rights Leader on Series of Recent Court Victories
By Stephen Gutowski
We’re back after our Thanksgiving break, and we’ve got some big news out of Maryland.
Not only was the state’s pistol purchase law ruled unconstitutional, but the gun-carry restrictions imposed by the state’s largest county were blocked too. Mark Pennak was at the center of both cases, which is why we’ve got him on the show this week. He’s the president of Maryland Shall Issue and its lead litigator as well.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I dissect the new attempt to rebrand AR-15 bans in the Senate.
Analysis: The Politics of Rebranding a National AR-15 Ban [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
This week, a group of Democratic Senators introduced a new AR-15 and ammo magazine ban. It won’t become law this year, but it could signal a shift in tactics.
Senators Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.), Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo), and Angus King (I., Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, introduced the Gas-Operated Semiautomatic Firearm Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act on Thursday. The bill, which is rather poorly written, is broadly similar in its effect to a traditional “assault weapon” ban. The road it takes to get there is more winding, with a few unexpected twists and turns, but the result is a law that’s, if anything, stricter than its predecessors.
That complicates one of the key selling points for why this proposal differs from the others. Senator King emphasized that three of the four Democrats on board with the new bill had never sponsored an assault weapons ban in a recent interview with MSNBC. The group also has a reputation for being more moderate on gun policy than many other Democrats.
If you’re a Reload Member, click here to continue reading. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other pieces!
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.