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NRA sues to overturn new Florida gun law

NRA sues to overturn new Florida gun law

“We are confident that the courts will vindicate our view that Florida’s ban is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment.”

Earlier today Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law gun control measures meant to address concerns after the Parkland school shooting.

One provision provides that all firearm sales are limited to persons at least 21 years old. Previously that age minimum only applied to handguns.

That provision, the NRA contends, is a wholesale deprivation of a constitutional right to adults aged 18-20.

The NRA now has sued. The Complaint (pdf.) is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The NRA issued this statement:

The National Rifle Association today announced that it has filed a lawsuit challenging the State of Florida’s newly-enacted ban on the purchase of firearms by young adults between the ages of 18-21.

Florida’s ban is an affront to the Second Amendment, as it totally eviscerates the right of law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to keep and bear arms. The ban is particularly offensive with respect to young women, as women between the ages of 18 and 21 are much less likely to engage in violent crime than older members of the general population who are unaffected by the ban. Despite this fact, the State of Florida has enacted a sweeping law banning all young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 from purchasing any firearm from any source. Chris Cox, the Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, stated, “Swift action is needed to prevent young adults in Florida from being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.

We are confident that the courts will vindicate our view that Florida’s ban is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment.” The case is National Rifle Association of America, Inc. v. Bondi, and it has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Not surprisingly, thought it wasn’t required to cite law in a Complaint, the NRA made sure to cite to the Heller case right near the top:

1. The Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess
and carry” firearms, and “elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding,
responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” District of
Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635 (2008).

2. The State of Florida, however, has recently prohibited an entire class
of law-abiding, responsible citizens from fully exercising the right to keep and bear
arms—namely, adults who have reached the age of 18 but are not yet 21. Florida
flatly bans such persons from purchasing firearms, whether from federally licensed
firearms dealers or from any other source.

3. At 18 years of age, law-abiding citizens in this country are considered
adults for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of
fundamental constitutional rights. At 18, citizens are eligible to serve in the
military—to fight and die by arms for the country. Indeed, male citizens in this
age-group are designated members of the militia by federal statute, 10 U.S.C. §
246(a), and may be conscripted to bear arms on behalf of their country, 50 U.S.C.
§ 3803(a). Yet, newly-enacted Section 790.065(13) of Florida’s criminal code
prohibits law-abiding adults in this age group from lawfully purchasing a firearm
of any kind.

4. This blanket ban violates the fundamental rights of thousands of
responsible, law-abiding Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and
Fourteenth Amendments.

I don’t claim to be a 2nd Amendment legal expert, so I won’t express a view on whether the NRA is on solid legal ground.

I will say that when I heard of the complete ban for ages 18-20 the first thing I thought of was Heller. That involved the nearly complete ban on firearms in readily operable condition in D.C. Such a ban was held to be unconstitutional.

The District of Columbia generally prohibits the possession of handguns. It is a crime to carry an unregistered firearm, and the registration of handguns is prohibited. See D. C. Code §§7–2501.01(12), 7–2502.01(a), 7–2502.02(a)(4) (2001). Wholly apart from that prohibition, no person may carry a handgun without a license, but the chief of police may issue licenses for 1-year periods. See §§22–4504(a), 22–4506. District of Columbia law also requires residents to keep their lawfully owned firearms, such as registered long guns, “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device” unless they are located in a place of business or are being used for lawful recreational activities. See §7–2507.02.1

* * *

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment , nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

* * *

We turn finally to the law at issue here. As we have said, the law totally bans handgun possession in the home. It also requires that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times, rendering it inoperable.

* * *

It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

* * *

Justice Breyer moves on to make a broad jurisprudential point: He criticizes us for declining to establish a level of scrutiny for evaluating Second Amendment restrictions. He proposes, explicitly at least, none of the traditionally expressed levels (strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, rational basis), but rather a judge-empowering “interest-balancing inquiry” that “asks whether the statute burdens a protected interest in a way or to an extent that is out of proportion to the statute’s salutary effects upon other important governmental interests.” Post, at 10. After an exhaustive discussion of the arguments for and against gun control, Justice Breyer arrives at his interest-balanced answer: because handgun violence is a problem, because the law is limited to an urban area, and because there were somewhat similar restrictions in the founding period (a false proposition that we have already discussed), the interest-balancing inquiry results in the constitutionality of the handgun ban. QED.

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would notapply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. See National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 432 U. S. 43 (1977) (per curiam). The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different. Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people—which Justice Breyer would now conduct for them anew. And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.

* * *

In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment , as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

The new Florida law doesn’t ban all firearms by and stretch. But it does ban sale of firearms to adults in the 18-20 age group. That age limitation makes the law not as broad as in Heller.

But if there is a 2nd Amendment right, why would that right be unlike all other rights, which apply to all adults without age limitation (and indeed, many times to non-adults)?

I suspect we will be back to the fact that 2nd Amendment rights are not treated as deferentially as other rights, something Justice Thomas recently lamented:

Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance. We have not heard argument in a Second Amendment case for nearly eight years. Peruta v. California, 582 U. S. ___, ___ (2017) (THOMAS, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari) (slip op., at 7). And we have not clarified the standard for assessing Second Amendment claims for almost 10. Meanwhile, in this Term alone, we have granted review in at least five cases involving the First Amendment and four cases involving the Fourth Amendment—even though our jurisprudence is much more developed for those rights.

If this case involved one of the Court’s more favored rights, I sincerely doubt we would have denied certiorari….

The Court would take these cases because abortion, speech, and the Fourth Amendment are three of its favored rights. The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan. And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.

* * *

Nearly eight years ago, this Court declared that the Second Amendment is not a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). By refusing to review decisions like the one below, we undermine that declaration. Because I still believe that the Second Amendment cannot be “singled out for special—and specially unfavorable—treatment,” id., at 778–779 (majority opinion), I respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari.


NRA v Florida – Complaint by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


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The Supremes have determined that since the US Constitution gives the authority over immigration to the Federal legislature then the states may not create their own immigration policy nor amend what the Congress has enacted, so how is it then permissible for the states to regulate a right acknowledged in the US Constitution to keep and bear arms? Would a state be permitted to its unique version of freedom of the press or require its citizens to register their religious preference before attending a house of worship?

This statute will eventually be declared unconstitutional, for exactly the reasons put forth by the NRA; it deprives every adult citizen of Florida, between the ages of 18 to 20, of the right to own and possess firearms. An argument could be made that requiring a person to be 21 YOA to purchase a handgun is constitutional because an adult under that age could purchase a rifle or shotgun, thereby guaranteeing that an adult can own and possess a firearm. However, this statute denies a person under 21 YOA the ability to lawfully purchase a firearm, unconstitutionally limiting a person’s ability to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights.

The second problem is with the language of this bill, which is that it is vague. The second sentence; ” The sale or transfer to a person younger than 21 years of age may not be made or facilitated by a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer”; is confusing. As the preceding sentence states; “A person younger than 21 years of age may not purchase a firearm.” This sentence renders the second sentence both redundant and unnecessary, unless the statute is only intended to apply to those having a license to import, manufacture or deal in firearms. However, if that is the case, then casual sales by unlicensed persons would be allowed AND these sales are not required to incorporate a background check, thereby eliminating a significant layer of protection against a person, who is not lawfully allowed to posses a firearm, from obtaining one.

This bill is a sterling example of the pitfalls of racing to perform a knee-jerk reaction based upon feelings.

    alaskabob in reply to Mac45. | March 9, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    It is vague, as you know, to expand the number of people prohibited from ownership without having to go back to the legislature. The police and the courts will be the final arbiter. For the Left, this is double plus good.

They are old enough to fight for their country, but they are not old enough to buy a weapon?

    puhiawa in reply to InEssence. | March 9, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Believe me. The Democrats would outlaw guns for American military in a second if they could. One has already voiced the opinion that the US Military services need to be part of disarming Americans.
    Ideological insanity, particularly at a time when a political party is undergoing change, as are the Democrats in a most profound way, often involves a contest to be the most radical. Hence we see the media in a daily contest to see who can insult Trump or conservatives the most (and thus win meaningless transitory applause from other players). We also see politicians throw away all logic to be the one that stands out in the field of political idiocy, such as Schiff, most of the Black Caucus, Pelosi, Blumenthal,Warren, Clinton, Burr, Harris, etc. Each wanting to be the next Ted Kennedy or Obama.
    As many countries have learned to their destruction, this is dangerous territory because radical thought, implemented by people driven by a delusional sense of genius, can catch on with the voters as an escape from reality, economics and threat.

    Similarly, they are trusted to carry assault weapons in social justice adventures and wars, but are denied arms to respond in self-defense once an abortion field is open. That psycho psychologist run amuck on the military base should have been Planned sooner than later.

The Left and the anti-Second Amendment zealots are doing what they’ve always done to advance their agenda, which is to repeatedly chip away at the Second Amendment, until, after one thousand cuts, the right doesn’t exist in any meaningful way. They’re aided in this endeavor by a slew of sympathetic federal judges. What the Left really desires is wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment, but, they don’t have the honesty, or, the votes, to come out and purse that campaign. So, they’re happy to eviscerate the Second Amendment piecemeal.

I mean, look at all the stuff that is now deemed to be permissible – waiting periods, limits on the number of weapons purchased, magazine size limits, registration of firearms owners by local police departments as ; etc. etc.

Thanks to the Left, in many states, it’s now far easier and more convenient to walk into Planned Parenthood to terminate a pregnancy and kill a fetus, than it is to purchase a firearm for sport or for protection. And, of course, the former “right” was contrived out of thin air (or, “emanations” and “penumbras,” to be more specific) in one of the worst, most poorly-reasoned and most profoundly immoral SCOTUS cases of all time.

The two worst decisions made by the Supreme Court and both were handed down by liberals. Roe v Wade and Dred Scott.

This bill also allows arming teachers, but since the progressive left has captured the administrative cadre of nearly every school district what district manager is going to approve requests to arm, and what teacher is going to buck their union (who opposes arming teachers) and the ostracism of the other teachers? That makes the only positive step in this bill functionally null and void, which I’m sure the progressive sponsors of this bill were counting on.

Even if the 18-21 bit gets struck down I assume there’s a severance clause, so the other bad stuff (3-day waiting period) remains.

    Mac45 in reply to randian. | March 10, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Florida law already allows teachers to be armed, if it is authorized by the school board and/or principal of the school.

    As you note, the main reason that most school boards do not arm teachers, or anyone else unless they absolutely have to, is liability.

Does Rick Scott think this will help him win a Senate seat?

    Guein in reply to hrhdhd. | March 10, 2018 at 7:30 am

    No, it will not. In fact, he may have just gave it away to the Democrat. Another weak-in-the-knees would be GOP senator bites the dust.

    Another Ed in reply to hrhdhd. | March 10, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Senator Bill Nelson [D-Florida] is running for re-election, so is practically guaranteed to be the Democrat party primary winner. Nelson supports more gun control.
    Governor Rick Scott’s signing of this bill weakens Scott’s ability to win the Republican party primary against other potential candidates.
    I cannot support voting for anyone who voted for, signed or supports this legislation. They have demonstrated poor judgement and a willingness to violate the civil rights of the citizens of Florida.

casualobserver | March 9, 2018 at 10:41 pm

Well if nothing else this stomps all over the narrative that the GOP and the NRA are completely in lockstep. Contrast this with Planned Parenthood and the Dems where candidates are publicly ostracized and defunded when showing any daylight between themselves and the certified PP position.

K, I’m fuzzy on Florida firearms law:

The new law forbids the *purchase* of guns by residents under 21 years of age, but does it ban the *possession* of such guns, or the *transfer* of same?

Possession Example: 18 year old scholarship student travels to FSU from Wyoming, lives off-campus, and decides to go hunting with the shotgun he brought with him. Illegal? He walked into a store and purchased a $151 non-resident hunting permit first, so??

Transfer Example: Florida parent with 15-year old son goes quail hunting, purchases a 12ga single barrel shotgun for the child and trains him how to use it with hunter safety course. Will he be prosecuted for a strawman purchase? Residents under 16 in Florida do not even need a license to hunt. Same 15-year old goes out quail hunting with his 15-year old friends (like I did when I was that age or less) Are they going to get arrested when in Florida they don’t even need hunting licenses until 16? Are they just supposed to point at the quail and yell “Bang!”

“Indeed, male citizens in this age-group are designated members of the militia by federal statute, 10 U.S.C. §246(a),”

This statute simply makes it especially egregious, as the Leftists can’t even claim that only militia members are covered by the Second Amendment; the group affected are already defined as members of the militia.

Guns don’t kill people. Nihilistic, narcissistic psychopaths do. Most are male. And they come in all colors and from all walks of life.

And they were created by American liberalism.

Even Heller got it wrong, and anyone who can read English knows it.

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

Weasel words. Nobody has ever claimed that the Second says that arms can be carried for “whatever purpose”. Nobody has an unrestricted right to chop whatever he wishes in half with a sword, or fire a gun downtown at 2 in the morning. The flimsiest of straw men. But the other parts are right there in black & white; ignoring them won’t make them go away. “Keep and carry” is indistinguishable from “keep and bear”, and that part shall be uninfringed.

Your right to shoot anyone at any time can indeed be infringed, and infringed rather a lot. No problem there. The other place to work in limitations would be “the right of the people”, since “the people” can have specific rights even if each and every last individual does not. But if we have a written Constitution which we take seriously, the Second can’t allow any random infringement some modern pygmy thinks might be a good idea.

    MarkS in reply to tom_swift. | March 10, 2018 at 10:19 am

    The “your rights are not unlimited” is the biggest scam ever foisted upon the American people! The Bill of rights are to protect the citizenry from the abuse of the government and if we then proclaim that the same government can put exemptions, exclusions and exceptions on our rights then those rights are reduced to nothing more than legislated privileges

    Mac45 in reply to tom_swift. | March 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    The SCOTUS rewrote the 2nd Amendment in both Heller and McDonald. They added exceptions which do not appear anywhere in the language of the Amendment nor can they be inferred.

    The current “example” of limiting a clearly articulated right is the one about the freedom to yell fire in a theater. Supposedly one has no right to yell fire in such a location. But, that is not true. One may, in fact, yell fire and may only be held accountable if such an action was done either deliberately to cause panic when no fire existed or if the act is done in in a reckless manner. If a fire exists, if the alarm is sounded in mistaken good faith or if no one is affected by the speech [the theater is empty, the person is held harmless. So, the action itself is protected, but the purpose and results of that action are not. Also, the 1st Amendment is not applicable to the states, even under the 14th Amendment, as it is addressed specifically to Congress. In order for a court to apply the 1st to a state or local jurisdiction, that court has to rewrite the language of the Amendment to somehow include state legislatures and other governing bodies..

    The 2nd Amendment says that the right to keep [own] and bear [possess] arms shall not be infringed. It does not specify what or who it is directed toward. Because the Bill Of Rights was directed toward the federal government, courts have limited the amendment to governments and government actions. This is largely due the potential conflict with common law private property rights. And, this would make it applicable to states and local jurisdictions. The Amendment does not protect the use of a weapon nor does it offer protection for the purpose or results of carrying of a weapon, if such are harmful to another without legal justification. That can be, and is, heavily regulated. The use of deadly force and reckless display are examples of this.

    All of the rights, enumerated under the Bill Of Rights, can be exercised by any adult in this country, within their specified limitations. Many amendments also apply to minors, as well: the 4th and 5th for example. And, to make things easier for everyone, we have established the age of 18 years to be the threshold of adulthood. So, after one’s 18th birthday, one can not be arbitrarily denied the ability to exercise those rights as easily as someone who has passed his 21st birthday.

buckeyeminuteman | March 10, 2018 at 7:23 am

Why exactly are 18 year olds considered adults? They can’t drink alcohol, can’t rent a car and now can’t buy guns. Can we please raise the voting age to 21 as well???

    How about the age to serve in the military be raised to 21?

    I agree. It should be all or nothing.

    It should be that people are adults at 18, with all attendant rights – or they are not. Not the current sorta, kinda adults – with some rights, but not others.

    Truthfully, the majority of 18 to 20 year olds today seem to lack the minimal maturity I’d expect of an adult. Then again, many still seem to lack it at 21 and beyond.

    Of course, some people younger than 18 seem mature beyond their years – but that has always been so.

    In an ideal world, at least in my ideal world, age wouldn’t matter.

    The test would be based on circumstances. On your own, a self-supporting tax payer, you’re an adult regardless of age.

    Being supported by someone else – parents, relatives, government, etc. – then not an adult at any age.

    Can we please raise the voting age to 21 as well???

    Not without a constitutional amendment.

I think Gov. Scott was just virtue-signaling.

Leaving open the “fast and furious”, Planned Parent, and criminal loopholes. Also, an implicit pardon to FBI corporate, local sheriff, and other officials in the loop, who failed to uphold the law, and contributed to the opening and progression of an abortion field.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | March 10, 2018 at 10:18 am

I have to believe the NRA advised Scott they would sue if he signed it into law. He signed it anyway, knowing it was going to be tangled in litigation.

Lots of wild ways to interpret that.

1) He believes the NRA lawsuit will fail;
2) He believes the NRA lawsuit will succeed;
3) The anti-gun nuts have stigmatized the NRA. He welcomes the NRA lawsuit as a way to distance himself from the NRA in his Senate bid, which in theory will appeal to moderate squishes.

I’m going with some version of option 3 as the most likely.

It’s the only one that makes sense to me. If you’ve been threatened by the NRA that it will file suit on the same day you sign it into law, then why not work with the legislature to sign a better bill to avoid the legislation?

Once again, politicians playing with our liberty for their political gain.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to MaggotAtBroadAndWall. | March 10, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I meant to write to “avoid the lawsuit?” in the penultimate sentence.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to MaggotAtBroadAndWall. | March 10, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I think that 3 is closest to his thinking, in that he believes that those he has stabbed in the back will still support him like conservatives have done up to 2014, and there will be a flood of Leftists who will throw over the Leninist-of-the-day to support him that will make up any losses.

    From what I am seeing locally in Colorado, Vichy Republicans are considered to be basically Democrats and not worth bothering to support.

#3. Gov Scott feels that repub/conservative voters have nowhere else to go but him !! They will not vote for Nelson, and would rather see him voted in to bolster repub and trump strength in congress–regardless of his bowing and pandering to the present public demand and outcry !!! ABJ

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to abujosh. | March 11, 2018 at 3:41 am

    They do not have to actively vote for the Democrat. All that has to happen is for enough of the Deplorable part of what is referred to as the Republican base, specifically the Pro-2nd Amendment part that understands its true meaning and purpose; to just not vote in that contest. The opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference. If offered a choice of candidates, both of which are the enemy on a key issue, but one has claimed to be an ally and has betrayed you; what reason is there to believe that he will “bolster repub and trump strength” on other issues no matter what he promises?

    If neither candidate can reasonably be hoped to be on your side, you support neither and seek other options.

    If that course comes to pass, based solely on Scott’s own actions and choices, he probably will not be a Senator. And in the current breakdown of the social and political contract, the other options become more attractive.

    Mac45 in reply to abujosh. | March 11, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Party affiliation, in Florida, breaks down as follows; 40% Dem, 36% Republican, 20 NPA [independent] and 4% minor party affiliation. So, in order to win a statewide office, a candidate has to run as a moderate or a liberal moderate. Signing bill will kelp Scott with liberal and moderate voters and won’ really harm him overly much with conservative moderates, in the state. One of the big unknowns this year is how many of the ~300,000 Puerto Rican refugees who have moved into Florida will establish residence and vote.