• Don Lichterman

Canada Bans ‘Military-Grade’ Assault Weapons, Gun shops, NRA-Trump, Supreme Court, Gun Safety Report

Updated: May 5, 2020

Canada announces immediate ban on ‘military-grade’ assault weapons

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday an immediate ban on "military-grade assault weapons" nationwide. The announcement follows the deaths of 22 people in a mass shooting rampage last month in Nova Scotia. "These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time," Trudeau said. "You don't need an AR-15 to bring down a deer." Trudeau said a two year amnesty period on the regulation would take effect to allow gun owners to comply, and that he would work on legislation to compensate owners of the weapons.

Gun shops are not essential businesses.

The NRA is showing its true colors yet again. In a strategy right out of its playbook of greed and extremism, the NRA is using the COVID-19 pandemic to fuel its guns everywhere agenda and boost gun sales nationwide.

The worst part? The NRA and its allies have pressured Trump's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to list gun shops as essential businesses – even as gun violence continues across the country and people sheltering at home find themselves at an increased risk of firearm suicide, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence.

The DHS needs to reverse this policy immediately. Tell the Trump administration: Gun shops are not essential businesses.

Trump echoing the NRA's extreme rhetoric

Since we launched this campaign, over 80,000 of you have signed the petition to demand that Trump's DHS reverse its decision on gun shops. But the NRA and its allies haven't slowed down either: they're doubling down on their apocalyptic fear-mongering, something they've done in national crises from 9/11 to Superstorm Sandy to line the pockets of gun manufacturers. On top of that, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is now telling gun stores that they can operate drive-up gun sales to mitigate health concerns.

Donald Trump is showing why he's the NRA's #1 ally, even during a public health crisis. Just a few hours ago, he echoed the NRA's extreme rhetoric in a tweet, comparing gun safety laws and social distancing to an entire state being "under siege."

Trump does the bidding of the gun lobby, and we need to make sure that ends this year. Do your part to defeat Donald Trump and the NRA in November.

The only thing under siege in Virginia is the NRA's political influence. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several common-sense gun reforms into law that will keep Virginians safe from gun violence. After Everytown and Moms Demand Action helped Gun Sense Candidates secure victories across the Commonwealth in 2017 and 2019, these new gun safety laws became a reality.

If you want to defeat Trump in November, help us elect even more Gun Sense Candidates across the country.

The Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped issuing a major ruling on a New York handgun law, a blow to gun rights advocates and the Trump administration, who had hoped the conservative majority would expand gun rights as early as this term.

Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole: Supreme Court avoids new Second Amendment ruling, dealing blow to gun rights advocates

The court's action means that the Supreme Court has gone a decade without deciding a major 2nd Amendment case.

The case, which was argued in December, concerns a New York City law that regulates where licensed handgun owners can take a locked and unloaded handgun.

Monday's order is a victory -- for now -- for supporters of gun regulations who feared the justices would take an idiosyncratic state law and use it as a vehicle to expand upon a landmark opinion by the late Justice Antonin Scalia from 2008 that held for the first time that an individual had a right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense.

In an unsigned opinion, the court said on Monday that it sent the case back to the lower court because after the justices agreed to hear the dispute, the New York City law at issue was changed. The court directed a lower court to consider remaining claims from the challengers of the law.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The case marked the first major gun rights case heard by President Donald Trump's two nominees. Gorsuch joined the dissent. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, said in a concurring opinion that while the court should sidestep the case at hand, he also agreed with the dissenters' concerns that lower courts have been thumbing their noses at Supreme Court precedent on the 2nd Amendment and said the court should "address that issue soon." When the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, the law blocked individuals from removing a handgun from the address listed on the license except to travel to nearby authorized small arms ranges or shooting clubs. New York argued the rule was not a burden on 2nd Amendment rights and that it represented a reasonable means to protect public safety.

The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, a gun owners group and individual plaintiffs challenged the law arguing that it was too restrictive and that a New Yorker could not transport his handgun to his "second home for the core constitutional purpose of self-defense or to an upstate county to participate in a shooting competition, or even across the bridge to a neighboring city for target practice."

Lawyers for the Trump administration sided with the challengers, arguing that "few laws in our history have restricted the right to keep and bear arms as severely as this ban does."

In a twist, after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, the city allowed licensed owners to take handguns to other locations, including second homes or shooting ranges outside city limits. In addition, the State of New York amended its handgun licensing statute to require localities to allow licensed gun owners to engage in such transport.

As a result, New York argued the justices should dismiss the case.

Lawyers challenging the law countered that the only reason it was amended was supporters of gun regulations feared that the Supreme Court's new conservative majority might use the idiosyncratic law to render a broad decision cutting back on gun restrictions.

An 'epiphany of sorts,' Alito says of New York

In his dissent, Alito expressed frustration that the court had declined to decide whether the city's law violated the 2nd Amendment.

"Although the city had previously insisted that its ordinance served important public safety purposes, our grant of review apparently led to an epiphany of sorts, and the city quickly changed its ordinance," Alito wrote.

Alito stressed that even though the law had been changed, those challenging it had not been provided with all the relief they sought.

"Petitioners got most, but not all, of the prospective relief they wanted," Alito wrote, "and that means that the case is not dead." He specifically noted their claims for damages.

Alito also took special aim at a "friend of the court" brief filed by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and others, suggesting the senators had tried to intimidate the court.

"Five United States Senators, four of whom are members of the bar of this Court, filed a brief insisting that the case be dismissed," Alito wrote.

Whitehouse had suggested that if the court did not dismiss the case, the public would believe the court was motivated by politics. "The Supreme Court is not well," Whitehouse wrote. "Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it to be restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics."

"If a case is on our docket and we have jurisdiction," Alito retorted, "we have an obligation to decide it."

Alito said he would have found that the New York City ordinance was unconstitutional and that it burdened the right to bear arms that was recognized in the court's 2008 decision called District of Columbia v. Heller. He said there is "cause for concern" that lower courts are not abiding by that decision.

"History provides no supporter for a restriction of this type," Alito said.

The gun-control groups Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action welcomed the court's decision on Monday, with Everytown President John Feinblatt saying in a statement that the court "just thwarted the gun lobby's hope for a broad ruling that could slow the gun safety movement's growing momentum."

Brady President Kris Brown said the case was "moot" in December when the court first heard arguments. "The issue at the heart of this case was already resolved and the plaintiffs had already received everything they had demanded and more. Recognizing this, the court's decision that there is no case here is common-sense," Brown said in a statement. "That the court recognizes this too merely underscores the desperation of the NRA and their allies to use this issue to advance a radical reinterpretation of the Second Amendment."

The justices announced that next Friday, when they hold their regularly scheduled conference, they will discuss whether to take up other 2nd Amendment cases for next term.

The conference is a private telephone call between the justices.

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