“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
– Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
One of CLDEF’s highest priorities is protecting and defending the Second Amendment. Our work focuses on building on the victories achieved in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010) cases, and rolling back draconian gun control laws across the land. CLDEF opposes all gun registration and licensing requirements, regulation of firearms dealers, weapons bans, ammunition bans, etc.
CLDEF urges state and federal courts and agencies to apply the Second Amendment by looking to the “text, history, and tradition” of the Second Amendment as the Supreme Court identified in Heller. This standard stands in stark contrast to the judge-empowering “balancing tests” (e.g., strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, rational basis) that many courts prefer to apply in cases to uphold all manner of restrictions on firearms. As Justice Scalia explained, the Founders did the balancing. It does not matter what modern federal judges think as to the wisdom of the Second Amendment.
Many politicians and liberals claim that firearms ownership should be subject to “reasonable regulation,” but we do not concede that. First, what Senator Diane Feinstein thinks is “reasonable” is somewhat different than what others may think. Second, the Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” — not that it may be reasonably regulated.
CLDEF fights to protect citizens’ rights to keep and bear all types of “arms,” including what are pejoratively described as “assault weapons,” “large capacity magazines,” and “armor piercing ammunition.” The “arms” described in the Second Amendment referred to modern military weapons of that time — which now includes all modern military weapons of this time.
Below are some of the Firearms Law matters in which CLDEF has been involved.
Today, an amicus brief was filed, on behalf of CLDEF, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in support of a challenge to the District of Columbia’s requirement that a person must demonstrate a “good reason” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The brief noted that before Heller, the federal courts perpetuated the charade that the right of “the People” was a collective rather than an individual right. Now, the brief argued, the lower courts are perpetuating a new charade — that rights which “shall not be infringed” can indeed be infringed so long as the government strongly desires to do so, and judges believe the regulations are reasonable. The brief argued that use of such “interest-balancing” tests permits judges to come to whatever result they prefer, as this case uniquely indicates.
Today, an amicus brief was filed on behalf of CLDEF in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supporting the right of a Maryland resident to purchase and possess firearms despite a prior conviction. Hamilton had been convicted of a non-violent felony in Virginia and served his sentence. Later, Virginia restored his civil rights, and then a Virginia Court specifically restored his firearms rights.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit previously handed down an opinion striking down San Diego County’s policy under which “self-defense” was not considered to be a “good cause” allowing the issuance of a concealed carry permit. Now, the Ninth Circuit decided to re-hear the case en banc. The Peruta case was consolidated with another case, Richards v. County of Yolo, which challenged Yolo County’s “good cause” policy. Our brief addressed issues in both cases.
Tony Henderson was a lawful firearms owner until he was convicted of a felony unrelated to his firearms. While his trial was pending, he turned his firearms collection over to the government as a condition of bond. After his conviction, the government would not let Henderson sell his firearms to an unrelated third party because the government claimed this would amount to unlawful “constructive possession” — even though the government physically possessed the firearms.
A federal district judge upheld the Maryland 2013 Firearms Safety Act which bans (i) so-called “assault weapons” and (ii) so-called “large-capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The district judge first acknowledged that the Maryland Act was an “infringement” on Second Amendment rights, but upheld the law anyway, in utter disregard of the Second Amendment text commanding that those rights “shall not be infringed.”
The case involved a Second Amendment challenge to New Jersey’s concealed carry laws. New Jersey concealed carry permits are rarely (if ever) issued unless one belongs to the government and politically powerful ruling class. The lower federal courts upheld the laws, and New Jersey gun owners filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Quinn case involves both the Second and Fourth Amendments, relating to a no-knock raid by the police. Police executed a warrant to search John Quinn’s home, looking for drugs owned by his son who lived there. Rather than honor the age-old practice of knocking on the door and announcing themselves, the police battered down Quinn’s door, shooting him when he understandably reached for his handgun to defend himself from what he thought was a burglary. The police justified the no-knock raid solely because they believed that Quinn owned firearms.
This case arises under the so-called Lautenburg Amendment of 1997, amending the Gun Control Act of 1968. The government argued for an expansive definition of what constitutes a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence, under which a person who engages in offensive touching, pushing, or even spitting in the context of a domestic relationship meets the federal requirement of “physical force.” The penalty for such an act is a lifetime ban on firearms ownership, and even innocent efforts to purchase or possess a firearm can result in the person becoming a felon.
Abramski is a Second Amendment case challenging ATF’s use of its “straw purchase” doctrine to convict one eligible person who bought a firearm for another eligible person. When buying a gun, a person is asked on the ATF Form 4473 if he is the “actual buyer,” even though federal law only requires him to be the “transferee.” Congress never actually criminalized “straw purchases,” and it is not up to ATF or the courts to create new crimes in order to fill in the perceived blanks. The government argued that the gun dealer was “required” to keep information about the “actual buyer,” but federal law requires him to keep only the identity of the “transferee” — the person physically present to obtain the firearm.
Woollard is a Second Amendment case challenging Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement for obtaining a license to carry a concealed weapon. The district court held that the “core” of the Second Amendment applies only inside the home, and thus applied only an “intermediate scrutiny” analysis.
- Page 1 of 2