Paper: Court System Increasingly Used to Wage War Against Gun Control

Supporters of gun control and firearm safety measures hold a protest rally outside the US Supreme Court as the Court hears oral arguments in State Rifle and Pistol v. City of New York, NY, in Washington, DC, December 2, 2019. - The case marks the first time in nearly 10 …
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Private citizens and gun rights groups are increasingly using America’s court system to wage war against gun control, the San Diego Union-Tribune observed.

The Union-Tribune pointed to District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez’s June 4, 2021, ruling against California’s 30-year-old “assault weapon” ban.

Breitbart News noted Benitez found the ban unconstitutional, citing Heller’s protection for a broad swath of firearms the left wants to ban.

Benitez wrote:

Heller took the already expansive zone of protection for weapons that could be used by the militia and focused on the core use of firearms for self-defense. “The [Heller] Court determined that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right held by the people, and not limited by the prefatory clause — ‘a well regulated Militia’ — only to ‘the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service.’

The Union-Tribune also points to Benitez’s 2017 ruling against California’s “high capacity” magazine ban. Breitbart News noted Benitez’s decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On July 17, 2018, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit upheld Benitez’s ruling, voting 2-to-1 against the ban and sending the case back to Benitez.

On March 29, 2019, Benitez again ruled against the ban, issuing an order barring California Attorney General Xavier Becerra from enforcing the ban.

After recapping Benitez’s rulings, the Union-Tribune highlighted three other suits, which were filed against various other aspects of California gun control:

  • In November a group of gun owners and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against a new law that expanded California’s handgun regulation. A portion of that law required the state to remove three handguns from its roster of approved handguns for sale, for every new handgun added. Gun groups claimed this would inevitably whittle down the number of lawful handguns state residents could purchase.
  • A suit filed in 2019 sought to strike down restrictions on residents between the ages of 18 and 20 years old from buying firearms, contending it violated the constitutional rights of young adults. Judge James Lorenz in November rejected those claims. The case is now on appeal.
  • A lawsuit challenges a state law that limits handgun and assault-style rifle purchases to one every 30 days.

The Union-Tribune notes that groups such as the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition, are partnering in lawsuits with private citizens to block gun controls and protect Second Amendment rights.

Duke Center for Firearms Law codirector Darrell Miller observed, “Gun rights organizations are often on the winning side of legislative debates. Not only are gun rights advocates winning in the political realm, at least most of the time. They are also seeking to entrench those protections as constitutional ones.”

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb told the Union-Tribune that the use of the court system to fight gun control is “definitely a conscious litigation strategy.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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