A National Rifle Association challenge to a federal gun law restricting handgun sales to people over age 21 has garnered support from 22 state attorneys general, the Associated Press reported today and yesterday, but Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is apparently not among them.
The NRA has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court review, asserting among other things that lower federal courts are stubbornly resistant to the court’s rulings in the 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald Second Amendment cases.
Recall that when Ferguson was running for the office last year against Reagan Dunn, who was candid about being a hunter and gun owner, the best Ferguson could offer – as this column noted – was that he acknowledged never having owned a gun or even fired a gun, as the Seattle Times reported at the time. He insisted that "I strongly support the right to bear arms."
The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation has filed its own amicus brief supporting the NRA’s position.
Newsmax reported Tuesday that attorneys general representing the following states have signed onto the brief, filed last Friday. They are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
But not Washington State, where Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution declares in part, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired…”
The NRA, in its petition, notes, “This case is part of a pervasive pattern of stubborn resistance to this Court’s holding that the Second Amendment secures a right that is not just individual, but fundamental. As six judges who dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc recognized, it cannot seriously be contended that the panel’s decision is reconcilable with that holding. There is no other fundamental right that could be effectively denied to an entire class of law-abiding citizens on the theory that they are too near the age of legal majority or too ‘irresponsible’ to exercise it. Indeed, there is no other fundamental right that an entire class of law-abiding adult citizens has been denied for any reason at all.”
The NRA contends that there is a “recurring trend of obstinate resistance” to the high court’s ruling that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental civil right.
SAF attorney Alan Gura’s brief also alerts the high court to an alarming pattern in the lower courts to essentially ignore Supreme Court rulings in the Heller and McDonald cases – which Gura successfully argued – that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental individual civil right.
“Courts remain largely steadfast in their belief,” Gura writes in his brief, “that the keeping and bearing of arms is less a fundamental right than a social evil. The near-uniform syllogism, played out in countless cases, holds: (1) any firearm, under any circumstances, might be misused; (2) the government has a powerful interest in preventing the misuse of firearms; (3) courts cannot question the government’s assertion that any given law is necessary as a matter of public safety, therefore;
(4) any firearm law is constitutional…
“Indifference or hostility to Second Amendment rights pervades the lower courts,” he later adds.
Gun rights activists have long contended that gun prohibitionists have labored for decades, perhaps even before the infamously misinterpreted 1939 Miller case, that the Second Amendment merely protects a state’s right to organize a militia, and that bun ownership by individual citizens should be treated more like a heavily-regulated privilege than a constitutionally-protected civil right.
And this case may cut to the quick on that issue because it challenges the government to explain why a citizen who is old enough to vote, old enough to die in uniform and old enough to purchase shotguns or rifles – including semiautomatic modern sport-utility rifles – is somehow not old enough to legally purchase a handgun.
The Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday of October. Whether it decides to hear the NRA’s appeal may not be immediately announced, but may consider the petition during a Nov. 1 conference, according to sources familiar with the case.