Maryland Shall Issue v. Hogan: Supporting Laws Banning Bump Stocks and Trigger Activators

Case Information: Maryland Shall Issue Inc. v. Hogan (D. Md. amicus brief filed July 27, 2018).

At Issue: On October 1, 2017, a gunman armed with AR-15 assault rifles modified with “bump stocks” unleashed a torrent of gunfire on a crowd of concert-goers in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people, hitting 422 with gunshots, and injuring a total of 851 people. This horrifying event, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, was enabled by the shooter’s use of bump stocks to evade federal restrictions on automatic weapons. After the federal government failed to act quickly to close the loophole, Maryland enacted a law prohibiting the possession and sale of bump stocks and other rapid fire trigger activators within the state. After the governor signed the lifesaving legislation, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit arguing that Maryland’s bump stock ban constitutes a government “taking” of their property in violation of the Takings Clause of the Constitution.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our amicus brief argues that plaintiffs’ unsupported argument is foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent demonstrating that governments may use their police powers to restrict the possession and use of dangerous products without violating the Takings Clause. By regulating trigger activators, Maryland has not engaged in an unlawful “taking,” but has simply closed a loophole which allowed for a contravention of legitimate restrictions on automatic firearms, which are historically longstanding and have been repeatedly upheld as constitutional. Therefore, Maryland’s exercise of its police power in restricting the possession and use of trigger activators does not implicate the Takings Clause at all.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Pena v. Lindley: Amicus Brief Defending California’s Unsafe Handgun Act

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Update — On August 3, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued a favorable decision rejecting the challenge to California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, siding with the position Giffords Law Center argued for in our amicus brief.

Case InformationPena v. Lindley,  No. 15-15449 (9th Cir. Brief Filed Sept. 28, 2015)

At Issue: This case presents a Second Amendment challenge to the California Unsafe Handgun Act (“UHA”), which requires that all handguns must meet certain safety requirements before they may be sold within the State. The district court from the Eastern District of California rejected this challenge, noting that the UHA is a regulation on the commercial sale of arms and is therefore a “presumptively lawful” regulation falling outside the scope of the Second Amendment. The case is now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.

The Law Center’s Brief: The Law Center’s brief addresses the importance of the Unsafe Handgun Act in keeping cheap and poorly made handguns off of the streets in California. The brief argues that the district court correctly concluded that the UHA law falls outside the scope of the Second Amendment, as it merely places a condition on the commercial sale of handguns and does not act as a prohibition. In the alternative, even if the UHA does burden conduct protected by the Second Amendment, it easily passes constitutional review under intermediate scrutiny, which is the appropriate level of review in this context, because of the minimal burden that the UHA imposes on the right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

 

Vt. Sportsmen’s Clubs v. Birmingham: Fighting for Vermont’s Lifesaving New Gun Safety Laws

Case Information: Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, et al. v. Birmingham, et al. (Vt. Super. Ct. amicus brief filed July 24, 2018).

At Issue: Vermont enacted a package of lifesaving and publicly supported gun safety measures after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. One of these critical new laws is S.55, which restricts access to the large-capacity ammunition magazines (LCMs) used in mass shootings from Sandy Hook to Las Vegas and countless other tragedies. Republican Governor Scott signed the bill shortly after the Vermont State Police stopped a would-be mass shooter from carrying out a school shooting at Fair Haven High School. The plaintiffs in this lawsuit argue that S.55 violates Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: We partnered with the Vermont Medical Society and GunSense Vermont on an amicus brief urging Vermont’s Superior Court to reject the meritless, gun-lobby backed challenge to S.55. Our amicus brief argues that Plaintiffs’ claims fail as a matter of law because LCMs pose an unjustifiable risk to public health and safety and Vermont’s magazine restrictions are wholly consistent with established precedent interpreting Article 16.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Read our press release about our amicus brief here.

 

 

New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs v. Grewal: Defending N.J.’s Large-Capacity Magazine Restrictions

Case Information: Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc., et al. v. Grewal, et al. (D.N.J. amicus brief filed July 6, 2018).

At Issue: Gun lobby groups recently brought a legal challenge to New Jersey AB 2761, a law enacted in 2018 which generally prohibits the possession of large-capacity magazines (LCMs) holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. AB 2761 strengthens existing law in New Jersey, which allowed possession of magazines holding up to 15 rounds. However, gun lobby groups argue that the new 10-round magazine capacity limit violates the Second Amendment, advancing extreme arguments that would support the idea that any magazine limits are unconstitutional.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: We filed an amicus brief in support of New Jersey’s law that explained the critical need to halt proliferation and use of military-grade LCMs by mass shooters and other criminals. Giffords Law Center’s amicus brief argues that the Second Amendment does not protect magazines that are unnecessary for self-defense and the favored tool of mass killers. Gunmen who perpetrated the deadliest mass shootings in US history have been able to murder more people by using LCMs that enable firing more bullets before it is necessary to reload—a critical pause when many rampage shooters are stopped.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

NSSF v. State of California: Defending California’s Groundbreaking Handgun Microstamping Law

Update — On June 28, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a favorable decision rejecting the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s challenge to California’s microstamping law, siding with the position Giffords Law Center argued for in our amicus brief.

Case InformationNational Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. v.  State of California, No. S239397 (California Supreme Court brief filed Nov. 13, 2017).

At Issue: In 2007, California passed a law designed to reduce the number of unsolved gun crimes by requiring that new handgun models sold in the state include microstamping technology. Microstamping imprints a serial number onto shell casings when a shot is fired, and represents a significant improvement on traditional ballistic identification techniques. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement groups strongly support this revolutionary crime-solving tool. However, gun manufacturers have repeatedly opposed microstamping, first by attempting to block action by the California legislature, and then by refusing to sell new handgun models in the state. The latest volley by the gun industry came when an industry group filed litigation arguing that the microstamping law is invalid because it is infeasible for gunmakers to comply with it. In NSSF v. State of California, the California Supreme Court has taken up the narrow legal question of whether gun manufacturers may file suit against a duly-enacted product regulation by claiming compliance is “impossible” (NSSF’s lawsuit does not raise any broader constitutional claims).

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that microstamping has been shown to be a feasible and reliable technology in empirical studies and live demonstrations before police officers. But even accepting NSSF’s baseless claim about the technology’s feasibility, the lawsuit must still be dismissed, because California’s microstamping law does not require gunmakers to do what they claim is impossible. Rather, the law merely bars introducing new handgun models in the state until gunmakers sufficiently develop microstamping technology and are able to implement it—which the evidence suggests is already easily possible. Our brief explains that the microstamping law is therefore consistent with a longstanding tradition of laws that require manufacturers to improve the safety or mitigate the environmental impact of a given product in order to have continued access to a state market. For instance, California leads the nation by setting emissions caps which carmakers must meet to sell vehicles in the state. Allowing NSSF’s unsupported “impossibility” claim would threaten the validity of such emissions standards, and many other commonplace consumer regulations that are essential to protecting public health and safety.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Malpasso v. Pallozzi: Defending Maryland’s Strong Public Carry Regulations

Case Information: Malpasso v. Pallozzi, No. 18-cv-01064 (D. Md. brief filed June 18, 2018).

At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to Maryland’s concealed carry laws, which require applicants for permits to carry loaded, concealed handguns in public to demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” for obtaining a permit. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming that this good-reason standard violates the Second Amendment—taking the extreme position that Maryland cannot authorize its law enforcement officers to protect public safety by enforcing meaningful public carry regulations.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that this Second Amendment challenge is foreclosed by binding Fourth Circuit precedent (Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865 (4th Cir. 2013)). In addition, since Woollard was decided in 2013, compelling new empirical evidence has confirmed the challenged law’s constitutionality and the need for states to adopt discretionary permitting standards to protect public safety. No current or credible data supports the weak hypothesis, advanced by gun lobby lawyers and by some discredited researchers, that concealed carry has a crime-deterring effect.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Gould v. O’Leary: Advocating Strong Standards for Concealed Carry Permits in Massachusetts

Case InformationGould v. O’Leary, No. 17-2202 (1st Cir. brief filed June 13, 2018).

At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to Massachusetts’ concealed carry regulations and the permitting standards implemented by law enforcement agencies in Boston and Brookline. The challenged policies require applicants to demonstrate a “proper purpose” to carry concealed guns in public in order to receive an unrestricted concealed carry permit, as opposed to a permit that is restricted to sport shooting or carrying a gun in the scope of one’s employment. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming that this proper-purpose standard violates the Second Amendment—taking the extreme position that unrestricted permits should be issued to applicants who do not meet the standard.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that Massachusetts’ concealed carry regulations comport with the Second Amendment because they are consistent with longstanding public carry restrictions dating back to the Founding and earlier. Further, we summarize the latest reputable research on the connection between carrying guns in public and crime, which overwhelmingly shows that relaxing concealed carry laws leads to increased violent crime and homicide. No credible data supports the weak hypothesis, advanced by gun lobby lawyers and by some discredited researchers, that concealed carry has a crime-deterring effect.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Teixeira v. County of Alameda: Supporting Zoning Laws That Keep Gun Stores Out Of Sensitive Areas

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Update: On May 14, 2018, after an 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Alameda County and the position Giffords Law Center advocated for in our amicus brief, the US Supreme Court denied review—leaving the Ninth Circuit’s favorable decision in place.

Case Information: Teixeira v. County of Alameda, No. 13-17132 (Ninth Circuit brief filed Aug. 1, 2016).

At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to Alameda County’s gun dealer ordinance, which prohibits gun stores within 500 feet of any school, liquor store, or residence. The district court upheld the ordinance, but a divided Ninth Circuit panel vacated the district court’s opinion and remanded for further proceedings. The County filed a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc, which is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit.

The Law Center’s Brief:  Our brief explains that Alameda County’s modest dealer law provides a safe distance between new gun dealers and sensitive areas such as schools, and is a lawful exercise of the County’s authority to regulate the commercial sale of guns. Our brief urges the Court to rehear Teixeira because the panel’s opinion disregarded the Supreme Court’s determination in Heller that laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of firearms are presumptively lawful, and also broke with Ninth Circuit precedent by requiring the County to demonstrate that its dealer ordinance is “longstanding.”

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

 

Culp v. Madigan: Defending Firearm Carry Permit Standards and Public Safety in Illinois

Case Information: Culp v. Madigan, No. 17-2998 (7th Cir. brief filed April 16, 2018)

At Issue: Illinois bars non-residents from applying for an Illinois concealed carry permit unless the applicant’s home state’s laws are substantially similar to Illinois’. Since many states have lax laws and keep deficient records for permit applicants, this requirement is necessary to ensure that Illinois is able to adequately verify criminal records and mental health history before issuing a carry permit to a non-resident. The non-resident plaintiffs in this case contend that these sensible limitations violate the Second Amendment, and claim an absolute right to apply for a concealed carry permit in Illinois even though they don’t reside there.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our amicus brief argues that the Second Amendment allows states to impose licensing and record-verification requirements on people seeking to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public. The challenged Illinois laws place only a modest burden on plaintiffs’ asserted right to carry a concealed weapon because none of the plaintiffs live in Illinois. Further, our brief refutes plaintiffs’ unsupported claim that restricting non-resident permit applications has no public safety benefit. There are documented lethal flaws with the lax concealed carry permitting systems in place in many states, which have resulted in permits being improperly issued to people with violent criminal histories.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Mance v. Lynch: Amicus Brief Defending Federal In-State FFL Requirement for Handgun Sales

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Update On January 19, 2018, the Fifth Circuit issued a favorable decision siding with the position Giffords Law Center advocated for in our amicus brief. The court upheld the federal law prohibiting handgun sales to out-of-state residents, finding that “there is a compelling government interest in preventing circumvention of the handgun laws of various states.” The Fifth Circuit panel was made up of three judges who were appointed to that court by President George W. Bush.

Case Information: Mance v. Lynch, No. 15-10311 (5th Cir. Brief Filed July 20, 2015)

At Issue: Plaintiffs in this case argue that the federal laws requiring out-of-state handgun purchases to be completed through an in-state federal firearms licensee (“FFL”) violate the Second Amendment. In other words, the challenged laws require a person wishing to buy a handgun in another state to have the purchase completed by an FFL that operates in their state of residence. Plaintiffs in this case are residents of the District of Columbia and wanted to purchase a firearm in Texas, but did not do so because of the extra costs associated with the in-state FFL requirement. The district court for the Northern District of Texas found that this requirement unduly restricts access to firearm markets and therefore violates the Second Amendment. The case is now on appeal before the Fifth Circuit.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our amicus brief argues that the challenged federal laws are compatible with the Second Amendment because they place such a small burden on a citizen’s ability to keep a firearm in the home for self-defense. The brief argues that laws imposing background checks and regulating large capacity ammunition magazines are “presumptively lawful” and not protected at all by the Second Amendment. Even if these regulations implicate the Second Amendment, both provisions survive constitutional scrutiny because they are reasonably related to the important governmental objective of protecting public safety and the safety of law enforcement officers.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.