Grab Bag: Februrary 2016

Campus carry sails through Florida’s House, a new study shows a ton of people think universal background checks actually exist, and a bill to charge people who fail NICS checks (even if it’s a false positive, as most are).

1.) Florida. New bills that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry on state colleges and also carry openly easily passed the Florida House this week by votes of 80-37 and 80-38, respectively. Of course, the opposition responded by saying that campus carry would make campuses more dangerous (as is the claim with all pro-gun bills, including HB60 here in Georgia, which is two years old this July).

2.) Ignorance. Way too many people believe a federal law requiring universal background checks exist. That’s the takeaway from the work of two researchers from Yale University. The study’s authors say that educating the public about the “limits” of current law could make people more receptive to gun control legislation and prevent deaths.

3.) NICS. As if trying to get people on secret watchlists banned from owning guns wasn’t enough, now we have a proposal to charge people who fail a NICS check, apparently leaving aside the NICS system’s long-held reputation for producing a ton of false positives.

4.) Strict scrutiny. “Strict scrutiny” is a legal standard largely used for laws that restrict rights in some way. It places the burden of proof on the government to show that a law’s restrictions on core rights are still supportive of those rights or, at the very least, that the government has a “compelling interest” in restricting that right.

This is relevant due to a case of a gun control law in Maryland. Legal Insurrection’s Andrew Branca reports that Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act was struck down when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals applied that standard to the law. Branca notes something that could be huge if self defense advocates press the issue. Branca writes:

It is a true oddity of constitutional law that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are almost invariably privileged to strict scrutiny–except for the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment.

This state of affairs has allowed the implementing of constraints on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that would never have been tolerated in the context of First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, speech, or assembly, or Fourth Amendment rights against governmental search and seizure, Fifth Amendment rights to due process and against self-incrimination and double jeopardy, and so forth.

Indeed, Second Amendment advocates have long noted this disparity of treatment, and have long fought to eradicate it. We know full well that should strict scrutiny be applied to the Second Amendment, the vast majority of gun laws currently on the books would inescapably be found to be unconstitutional infringements of the Second Amendment, and discarded.

In other words, virtually every gun control law cannot survive strict scrutiny. The oft-repeated line by gun control advocates that “reasonable” restrictions are constitutional is blatantly false. Let us close this week with this excerpt from Branca:

In short, the application of strict scrutiny to the Second Amendment, just as it is applied to the other rights enumerated in the Constitution, would be a complete game changer on gun rights on a national scale.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

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