SAF founder highlights 2A legal fights

I was sorely disappointed that I had to miss last weekend’s Gun Rights Policy Conference in Texas, but getting a chance to hear about it from Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co did help take some of the sting away. It sounds like it was an incredible event with a lot of fantastic speakers, and special congratulations are in order to Bearing Arms contributor John Petrolino, who was named the 2022 Gunblogger of the Year.

If you, like me, weren’t able to make to this year’s GRPC in person, you can check out all of the two-day event on the SAF YouTube page. It’s the next best thing to being there in person, and as I told Alan during our conversation, I won’t miss next year’s event unless I or someone I love is in the hospital.

Most of today’s conversation, however, centered not around GRPC but the growing number of lawsuits that the Second Amendment Foundation is bringing in the wake of the Bruen decision. I told Alan that it seems like SAF is filing new litigation on a daily basis, and I’m not imagining things. Last week the group initiated three new lawsuits, and Gottlieb hinted that this week could bring at least one more new case. That’s in addition to the dozens of cases that SAF had filed before the Supreme Court struck down New York’s “may issue” carry laws and, in doing so, laid out the proper test that courts should use to determine the constitutionality of any particular gun control law.

As Gottlieb explains, not only did the Bruen decision open the door for new challenges, it provides an opportunity to revisit some laws that had previously been upheld under the improper two-step, tiered interest test broadly adopted by lower courts after the Supreme Court’s first big Second Amendment ruling in D.C. v. Heller. It’s a target-rich environment for lawsuits at the moment, though Gottlieb says it can be a challenge to find the right plaintiffs with standing to sue over a particular law.

In the lawsuit filed last week taking on Connecticut’s ban on so-called assault weapons, the SAF ended up working with the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, but several individual plaintiffs with compelling personal narratives, including one domestic violence victim who wants an AR because she feels its better suited to her home defense needs than a handgun, and a former corrections officer named Richard Grant whose own family history has taught him the importance of armed self-defense.

Grant’s interest in acquiring such firearms for defensive purposes stems from his mother’s accounts of her fight for civil rights in the Deep South. As a Black woman growing up in 1950s-60s Georgia, Grant’s mother has recalled to him the church burnings and racially-motivated killings experienced by her family and friends. Grant understands that such attacks were repelled in large part by private ownership of defensive firearms.

Hopefully this case will be just one of many victories for Second Amendment groups in the years ahead, though I know that it’s frustrating (to say the least) to see so many blue states respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen with outright defiance and a refusal to recognize the fundamental nature of the right to keep and bear arms. Gottlieb says he’s extremely optimistic about the future, and points to post-Bruen decisions striking down the  Texas ban on concealed carry for adults 18-to-20-years old and several other court cases as evidence that the legal landscape is finally starting to change… even if the political landscape has not.

The best way to defeat a bad law is to prevent it from becoming one in the first place, and Gottlieb encouraged gun owners to not only vote on Election Day, but to volunteer for campaigns; knocking on doors, handing out flyers, doing phone banks, or anything else to help ensure a pro-gun majority in at least one chamber of Congress come next year. That would provide a legislative firewall for our Second Amendment rights, and while it won’t stop the Biden administration’s abuses of executive authority, it’s still the most important task that gun owners face at the moment.