Firearms Policy Coalition targets "assault weapons" bans in California, New Jersey

While blue state legislators in places like New York, California, and Delaware are busy imposing new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms in response (and defiance) to the Supreme Court’s ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen last week, Second Amendment organizations have been hard at work in courts across the country seeking to use the Bruen decision to their full advantage and strike down a number of anti-gun laws currently on the books.

The Firearms Policy Coalition on Thursday filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay imposed by the court last year after a federal judge struck down California’s ban on so-called assault weapons as a violation of the Second Amendment, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision “eliminates any plausible argument for a stay in this case.” The group also filed a brand new federal lawsuit taking on New Jersey’s ban on modern sporting rifles, arguing that ban cannot stand in light of the Bruen decision.

“AR-15 rifles are among the most popular firearms in the nation, and they are owned by millions of Americans,” the complaint says. “New Jersey’s Ban unconstitutionally infringes upon Plaintiffs’ fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms” “New Jersey’s Ban and Defendants’ actual and threatened enforcement of the same must be declared unconstitutional and enjoined under the Second Amendment’s text, informed by relevant history, and the Supreme Court’s precedents so that Plaintiffs Cheeseman and Connolly, all similarly situated members of Plaintiff FPC, and non-prohibited individuals like them can exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear these common firearms for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

“There’s no question here,” said FPC Policy Counsel Matthew Larosiere. “New Jersey’s ban spits in the face of not only the constitution, but all the peaceable people of New Jersey. The type of arms targeted by New Jersey’s ban are both constitutionally protected and dearly needed by the People. We are excited to help vindicate the rights of New Jersians and put an end to this immoral overreach on the part of the government.”

The FPC is also involved in Bianchi v. Frosh; a challenge to Maryland’s ban on so-called assault weapons that the Supreme Court granted, vacated, and remanded back to the Fourth Circuit for review yesterday. Larosiere says the decision to re-hear the case in light of the Bruen decision is an “important moment,” adding that gun owners “have suffered at the hands of government actors who felt empowered by a lack of clear standards from the Supreme Court. All too often, horrible restrictions which threaten jail time for simply owning a common type of arm–one the people have an undeniable right to–were allowed to stand. This case presents one of the first opportunities to give force to our right to these common firearms, and we intend to see it through.”

We’re going to be seeing a frenzy of activity in the courts over the next few weeks as both existing gun restrictions and new laws imposed in the wake of the Bruen decision come under fire from Second Amendment organizations, and while it will take some time for these cases to develop, the anti-gun lawmakers who put these infringements in place aren’t going to be able to avoid the legal reckoning that is coming. The Bruen decision not only struck down New York’s “may issue” law, but laid out in very specific terms the proper test that courts should be using to determine the constitutionality of gun laws; considering the text of the Second Amendment along with the history and tradition of the right to keep and bear arms in the United States. That test is going to prove challenging (to say the least) for those hoping to keep these bans on modern sporting rifles in place because until the last few decades we simply haven’t seen the types of sweeping gun bans favored by the gun prohibitionists. There is simply no historical analogue for defenders of these bans to point to, and that’s a key component of upholding the constitutionality of any gun control law.

I look forward to seeing the developments in each of these cases, though I’m paying extra-close attention to Bianchi v. Frosh because it will likely be the first “assault weapons” ban challenge to be taken up by SCOTUS once the Fourth Circuit re-hears the case. Every one of these cases is important in their own right, however, and taken together they represent a wave of pro-2A litigation that will hopefully sweep away many of the onerous and unconstitutional gun control measures that are currently on the books.