Federal judge temporarily halted 30-day order from New Mexico’s governor suspending the open and concealed carrying of gun


Important Takeaways:

  • The court said the order banning the carrying of firearms in public places would cause irreparable harm to citizens seeking to exercise their constitutional rights.
  • The executive order had drawn extensive blowback from the state’s elected Republicans for violating gun rights and also some Democrats and gun control advocates who questioned its constitutionality.
  • Local law enforcement officials said they would not enforce the order, and the state’s Democratic attorney general, Raúl Torrez, had written to Lujan Grisham to declare that he could not legally defend it while also questioning its efficacy.
  • “The Second Amendment has no exception. It has no part of it that says as long as the state governor can issue an emergency, you’re allowed to take our citizens’ firearms,”
  • “This is a chilling action,” the senators wrote, “and it is imperative that your Department act immediately to show that this kind of unconstitutional abuse will not be tolerated in New Mexico or anywhere else in the United States.”

Read the original article by clicking here.

Supreme Court rules 6-3 in favor of those seeking a gun license and the right to protect yourself

Exodus 18:21 “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.

Important Takeaways:

  • Supreme Court shoots down NY rule that set high bar for concealed handgun licenses
  • The court ruled in its first major gun case in more than a decade
  • The Supreme Court ruled [ruled 6-3] that New York’s regulations that made it difficult to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun were unconstitutionally restrictive, and that it should be easier to obtain such a license.
  • The existing standard required an applicant to show “proper cause” for seeking a license, and allowed New York officials to exercise discretion in determining whether a person has shown a good enough reason for needing to carry a firearm. Stating that one wished to protect themselves or their property was not enough.

Read the original article by clicking here.

U.S. Justice Department says Missouri state gun law is unconstitutional

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s Justice Department is stepping up its fight against a new state law in Missouri that aims to invalidate many federal gun regulations, saying the measure has impeded law enforcement efforts to work with state and local police and is also unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest in an ongoing lawsuit in Cole County, Missouri, saying the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, also known as “HB85,” should be declared unconstitutional and that the court should issue a injunction barring its enforcement.

“HB85 is legally invalid. Under the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the State of Missouri has no power to nullify federal laws,” the department’s filing says.

In an accompanying sworn statement, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Frederic Winston said the new law “has already had a significant impact on ATF’s partnerships with state and local law enforcement offices,” noting that 12 of 53 state and local officers have withdrawn from participation in ATF task forces since the law’s enactment.

A hearing in the case, which was filed by the City of St. Louis et al against the State of Missouri et al, is slated for Thursday.

The Justice Department’s court filing marks the latest move by Attorney General Merrick Garland to quash executive orders or laws in red states that clash with the enforcement of federal laws.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department secured a legal victory in Texas, after a federal judge temporarily halted an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott that restricts the transport of migrants through the state and authorizes state troopers to pull over vehicles suspected of doing so.

HB85, which was signed into law in June, purports to nullify various federal firearms laws.

The Missouri law comes at a time when the Justice Department has sought to crack down on illegal firearms, launching a firearms trafficking task force this summer to trace the origins of guns used to commit crimes.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

NRA backs ‘bump stocks’ regulations after Las Vegas massacre

FILE PHOTO: A sign of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is seen in front of their headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. on March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

By Alexandria Sage and Sharon Bernstein

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The U.S. gun lobby, which has seldom embraced new firearms-control measures, expressed a willingness to support a restriction on the rifle accessory that enabled a Las Vegas gunman to strafe a crowd with bursts of sustained gunfire as if from an automatic weapon.

The gunman Stephen Paddock, police said, fitted 12 of his weapons with so-called bump-stock devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to operate as if they were fully automatic machine guns, which are otherwise outlawed in the United States.

Authorities said his ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute for 10 minutes from a 32nd-floor hotel suite was a major factor in the high casualty count of 58 people killed and hundreds wounded. Paddock, 64, killed himself before police stormed his suite.

The carnage on Sunday night across the street from the Mandalay Bay hotel ranks as the bloodiest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, surpassing the 49 people shot to death last year at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The influential National Rifle Association (NRA), which staunchly opposed moves to tighten gun control laws after the Orlando massacre and others, said on Thursday bump stocks, which remain legal, “should be subject to additional regulations.”

“Gun control is a failed policy. We’ve tried it and it is safe to say that it doesn’t keep people safe,” Chris Cox, executive director at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said on Fox News on Thursday.

“There needs to be an honest conversation about solutions that work and one of those solutions is to make sure the Second Amendment is supported and protected.”

Democrats were urging new legislation, as the shooting reignited the long-standing U.S. debate over regulation of gun ownership, protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The NRA called for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to address bump stocks by regulation, rather than opening up the issue to the legislative process.

Senior Republicans also signaled they were ready to deal with the sale of bump stocks – an accessory gun control advocates regard as work-arounds to bans on machine-guns.

“Clearly that’s something we need to look into,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, a member of the Republican House leadership who is himself a victim of gun violence, voiced concern that hasty congressional action to restrict bump stocks could lead to wider limits on “the rights of gun owners.”

“There are people who want to rush to judgment,” Scalise said in an MSNBC interview on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump, an outspoken proponent of gun rights during his campaign for the White House, suggested he was open to curbs on bump stocks.


Thousands of mourners turned out on Thursday for a candlelight vigil honoring a Las Vegas police officer and member of the Nevada National Guard who was among those slain at Sunday’s concert while he was there off duty.

Under a full moon in a grassy memorial park, a police honor guard including bagpipes paid tribute to Charleston Hartfield, 34, who is survived by his wife and two children.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reported on Thursday that organizers of a gun show scheduled for this weekend at the Eastside Cannery Casino had canceled the event, saying it did not seem “prudent” in light of Sunday’s tragedy.

Investigators remained puzzled at what drove Paddock, a well-off retiree and avid gambler, to assemble an arsenal of nearly 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a supply of explosives before opening fire on a country music festival attended by 20,000 people.

Reports emerged on Thursday that Paddock may have targeted other sites for attack in Chicago or Boston before the Las Vegas shooting. Paddock also researched locations in Boston, including Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox baseball club, NBC reported, citing multiple law enforcement sources.

Police in Boston and Chicago said they were aware of the reports and were investigating them.

Discerning Paddock’s motive has proven especially baffling as he had no criminal record, no known history of mental illness and no outward signs of social disaffection, political discontent or extremist ideology, police said.

Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62, was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said in a statement she never had any inkling of Paddock’s plans.

Danley, who returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines, is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest.” The Australian citizen of Filipino heritage is cooperating fully with authorities, her lawyer said.

(This version of the story corrects the title of Chris Cox in paragraph six).

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage and Sharon Bernstein in Las Vegas; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Richard Cowan, Doina Chiacu, Amanda Becker and Jeff Mason in Washington, Chris Kenning in Chicago, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Allen in New York, Keith Coffman in Denver and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone and Steve Gorman; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

U.S. judge rejects Texas professors’ bid to halt student gun carry

FILE PHOTO: Members of the University of Texas of the Guns Free UT group that includes faculty and staff protest against a state law that allows for guns in classrooms at college campuses, in Austin, Texas, U.S. August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz/File Photo

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. judge rejected efforts by three University of Texas professors to ban students from bringing guns to their classrooms after the state granted them that right last year, court documents showed on Friday.

Professors Jennifer Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter had argued in a federal district court in Austin that academic freedom and classroom debate could be chilled under the so-called “campus carry” law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders.

The law allows concealed handgun license holders aged 21 and older to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities, including the University of Texas system, one of the nation’s largest with more than 221,000 students.

“Plaintiffs present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fear,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in his decision dismissing the professors’ complaint. Defendants included Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, University President Gregory Fenves and the university’s Board of Regents.

Paxton, who backed the law, praised the decision.

“The fact that a small group of professors dislike a law and speculate about a ‘chilling effect’ is hardly a valid basis to set the law aside,” he said in a statement.

University of Texas professors had lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent the law, arguing the combination of youth, firearms and college life could make for a deadly situation. Fenves reluctantly allowed campus carry, saying last year he was compelled to do so under state law.

Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.

A lawyer for the professors said the ruling was narrow and did not address the plaintiffs’ constitutional concerns.

“The order accompanying the dismissal doesn’t reach the merits of either the professors’ substantive First Amendment claims or any aspect of their Second Amendment and Equal Protection claims,” attorney Renea Hicks said in an email.

As of the start of May, 10 states had provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Florida governor signs bolstered ‘stand your ground’ law

FILE PHOTO - Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks at a press conference about the Zika virus in Doral, Florida, U.S. August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) – Florida Governor Rick Scott signed amended “stand your ground” legislation on Friday, making it easier for defendants in the state to successfully claim they were protecting themselves when they commit violence.

Previously, the law required defendants to prove that they were using force in self-defense. The new law shifts the burden of proof in pretrial hearings to prosecutors, rather than defendants, to prove whether force was used lawfully.

Supporters of stand your ground laws, including the National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, see the legislation as bolstering civilians’ right to protect themselves.

Florida’s self-defense law was initially passed in 2005, and inspired similar laws in other states. It removes the legal responsibility to retreat from a dangerous situation and allows the use of deadly force when a person feels greatly threatened.

Opponents have said the amended law will embolden gun owners to shoot first, citing the 2012 death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in the Orlando area, which spurred national protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The neighborhood watchman who killed him, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder after the state’s stand your ground law was included in jury instructions.

Scott, a Republican, signed the amended legislation into law along with a spate of other measures passed this week in a special session of the state’s legislature. The measure was largely passed by party-line vote in the legislature.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Patrick Enright and Lisa Shumaker)

Iowa poised for major overhaul to gun regulations

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) – Iowa lawmakers approved on Thursday amended legislation that would enact sweeping changes to the state’s gun regulations, including a “stand your ground” provision, and sent it to the governor for final approval.

The bill, backed by the National Rifle Association, says a law-abiding person does not have to retreat before using deadly force.

A similar measure in Florida was thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder after the law was included in jury instructions.

At least 24 other states have similar measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Iowa bill allows for children under the age of 14 to use handguns while under the supervision of an adult who is 21 or older. It also says gun owners with permits can bring concealed handguns into capitol buildings.

Republican state Representative Matt Windschitl said on the House floor on Thursday the bill was, “the most monumental piece of Second Amendment legislation this state has ever seen.”

The bill also would make gun permits valid for five years, with a background check required when the permit is issued. Under the current law, permits are valid for one year with an annual background check.

The bill passed the state Senate on Tuesday and the House last month. The House voted on it again on Thursday to approve changes made in the Senate before advancing it to the desk of Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

A spokesman for Branstad said in an email that the governor will review the bill.

The bill has been criticized by gun control advocates, who say it could increase gun violence.

“We have had very good gun laws,” the Reverend Cheryl Thomas of Iowans for Gun Safety said by telephone. “With the passage of this law, we are going to lose that status.”

Iowans for Gun Safety wants Branstad to veto the measure.

Previous attempts to change the state’s gun regulations have been blocked by Democrats, who held a majority in the Senate until November.

Following the election, Republican lawmakers control the Senate, House and governor’s office for the first time in nearly two decades.

Republicans have used their majority to push through a number of bills during this legislative session, including drastic changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Bill Trott and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Florida legislature poised to bolster ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

FILE PHOTO: A truck with a sticker indicating the number of weapons and hand guns is pictured in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, U.S. June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Letitia Stein and Bernie Woodall

(Reuters) – Florida lawmakers advanced a measure on Wednesday that could make it easier to avoid prosecution in deadly shootings and other use-of-force cases by seeking immunity on self-defense grounds under the state’s pioneering “stand your ground” law.

In a 74-39 vote, the state’s House of Representatives passed legislation that shifts the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors when the law is invoked to avoid trial.

The measure now returns to the state Senate, which last month approved its own version of the bill. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Florida’s “stand your ground” law, passed in 2005, received wide scrutiny and inspired similar laws in other states. It removed the legal responsibility to retreat from a dangerous situation and allowed use deadly force when a person felt greatly threatened.

Opponents say the measures will embolden gun owners to shoot first, citing the 2012 death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, which spurred national protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. The neighborhood watchman who killed him, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder after the law was included in jury instructions.

Wednesday’s House vote on changing the law followed party lines.

Supporters, including the National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, see the legislation as bolstering a civilian’s right to quell an apparent threat.

“This bill is trying to put the burden of proof where it belongs, on the state, because all people are innocent before being proven guilty,” said the Republican sponsor of the bill, Representative Bobby Payne.

Florida’s law did not specify the process for applying “stand your ground” immunity. State courts established the current protocol, which calls for a pre-trial hearing before a judge and puts the burden of proof on the defendant.

Most of those speaking in the House debate were Democrats who said the bill would lead to more violence.

“Who will speak for the voiceless victims, silenced by an aggressor who claims he wasn’t an aggressor but is protected by a flawed law?” said Democrat Representative Bobby Dubose.

While public defenders support the changes to the law, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and gun control advocates oppose them.

“Every battery case, every domestic violence case, every use of force case, as a matter of routine, defense attorneys will now request hearings,” said Phil Archer, a state attorney.

Archer, a lifetime NRA member who teachers gun owners about “stand your ground,” said of the changes: “This is just going too far.”

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida, and Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)

South Dakota’s governor vetoes loosening of concealed carry gun laws

FILE PHOTO: Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota listens to remarks during a discussion at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, February 23, 2014. EUTERS/Mike Theiler/File Photo

By Tom James

(Reuters) – South Dakota’s Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard on Friday vetoed a pair of bills that would have loosened restrictions on carrying concealed guns in the state, after saying current laws made sense and were adequate.

One measure would have allowed carrying concealed weapons in the state without a permit. The second proposed allowing carriers of an enhanced permit to carry concealed weapons at the state capitol.

South Dakota bars convicted felons and those convicted of some violent or drug crimes from obtaining a concealed weapons permit.

Eleven U.S. states allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control advocacy group. Another 39, including South Dakota, allow concealed carry with a permit.

In a letter accompanying one of the vetoes, Daugaard, who had previously pointed to his own membership in the National Rifle Association, defended the state’s existing concealed weapons laws as reasonable.

“I am unaware of a single instance in which a person who could lawfully possess a gun was denied a permit to carry a concealed pistol,” Daugaard wrote. By comparison, he added, two counties in the state have turned down nearly 600 permit applicants “who were disqualified due to mental illness or due to violent or drug-related crimes.”

The veto echoed statements Daugaard made in a Feb. 11 editorial in the Rapid City Journal, in which he said he viewed the state’s laws as “effective, appropriate and minimal.” Daugaard also vetoed a similar proposal loosening concealed-carry standards in 2012.

Rep. Lee Qualm, who sponsored the proposal relaxing the state capitol restrictions, called the vetoes “frustrating,” and said in a phone interview on Friday that he would try to override them when the legislature returns from recess March 27. An override requires a two-thirds majority in South Dakota, and Qualm said both bills were only a handful of votes short of that threshold in both chambers.

Rep. Lynne Disanto, sponsor of the broader of the two bills, did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment.

The bills’ failure at the hands of a Republican governor pointed to a divide in his party over the regulations. Neither bill received full Republican support in either chamber, and the statewide measure was opposed by about one in five Republicans in the House and one in three in the Senate.

(Reporting by Tom James in Seattle; Editing by Patrick Enright and Richard Chang)