Hello, readers. Yesterday, a federal appeals panel in California shook up the gun law status quo by finding a Second Amendment right to openly carry a gun for self-defense. But two legal scholars we spoke with say the court fight over guns toted in public spaces is far from over. Learn what they said, and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Openly carrying guns in public is a constitutional right, federal appeals judges rule. In a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th Circuit reversed a decision by the U.S. District Court in Hawaii that the Second Amendment protected the right to own a gun in the home, but not to carry one in public for self-defense. An earlier ruling that the Second Amendment does not cover the right to carry a concealed firearm will hold. Scroll down to see how two gun law experts reacted to the news, and what they predict will happen next.
Democrats want top NRA officials to sit for public hearings on Russian election interference. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse requested the sessions in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, one week after National Rifle Association life member Maria Butina was arrested on charges of acting as a foreign agent. “We have an interest in determining whether the NRA was aware of attempts by Ms. Butina to violate the prohibition on foreign contributions to U.S. campaigns,” the letter reads.
In March, a Wikipedia user whitewashed entries for Butina and Paul Erickson, the Republican political activist with whom she had a relationship. The user’s IP address can be traced to servers at American University, Butina’s alma mater.
The judge in Butina’s case just ordered her held without bond. Key sentence: “Given the context of the full extent of the evidence offered and proffered, that the danger which would be posed by Defendant’s release is obvious” — by which the judge meant the danger of Butina fleeing, or resuming “the unlawful activities alleged in the indictment.”
Florida agriculture commissioner candidates are running on background check reform. Following reports that the agency mishandled background checks for concealed carry permits under former Commissioner (and now gubernatorial hopeful) Adam Putnam, candidates running for the position are making accountability a priority. Several primary contenders from both parties have vowed to conduct reviews and institute new policies if elected.
Alex Jones says he was acting as a journalist when he peddled Sandy Hook conspiracies. In a motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Sandy Hook survivors, Jones argued that broadcasting misinformation about the shooting was simply part of his journalistic process, which he compared to the steps Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used to report the Watergate scandal.
The suspect in Sunday’s church shooting had a history of domestic violence. The 48-year-old Nevada man opened fire on a Mormon church on Sunday, killing one person and wounding another. He’s being held in jail on more than $1 million in bond. The man had been arrested twice on domestic violence charges, and later on a drug charge, all of which were dropped. Remembering the victim: Charles “Bert” Miller, who died in the shooting, was a volunteer firefighter and mechanic who would have turned 62 on Sunday. “He was one of the most selfless, soft-spoken, kind people I know,” his daughter said. Miller’s brother, Duane, was also injured in the shooting.
A young gun reformer from Chicago was killed on Sunday. Parish McKenzie, 21, had joined GoodKidsMadCity, a Chicago-based anti-gun violence group that formed after the Parkland massacre. He was killed early Sunday in a triple shooting on Chicago’s South Side. “We stay mindful that we can go any minute, but it ain’t gone stop us from trying to save lives,” a tweet from the group reads. Another youth gun reform activist was shot while he slept. After Parkland, Zo Shauku, 17, joined the youth-led gun reform movement in Birmingham, Alabama. Early Friday, Shauku was sent to the hospital after he was struck by a stray bullet from a neighborhood gunfight. His mother says he is improving and hopes to continue his efforts to combat gun violence upon his release.
ONE LAST THING
Experts see flaws in federal appeals court’s ruling on open carry. Yesterday’s bombshell decision in Young v. State of Hawaii was authored by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a Reagan appointee. In a nutshell, the decision finds that the word “bear” in the Second Amendment clause “keep and bear arms” implies a right to carry a weapon in public.
The Trace’s Alex Yablon spoke with two left-leaning legal scholars who find reason to believe the panel ruling will be reversed if the full 9th circuit court considers the case. “Here in this 59-page opinion, there’s not once place where the majority looks at the state’s interest in public safety to decide whether it’s sufficient to justify this restriction,” said David Yassky, a professor at Pace Law School. “That’s a core failing.”
Eric Ruben of the Brennan Center at New York University sees blind spots in the historical examples on which O’Scannlain rests the decision: “It’s interesting that the majority looks to cases out of the antebellum South to reach its decision,” Ruben said, noting that laws about public carry were deeply intertwined with controlling slaves. “All the evidence is just from one area of the country. The historical reality is that there’s not a single firearm tradition in this country. ”
A further reason to be skeptical this ruling will hold: O’Scannlain used similar reasoning to void restrictions on concealed and open carry in his panel decision in a separate case, Peruta v. San Diego County. That decision was overturned.