On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re spending some quality time with California Rifle & Pistol Association head and 2A attorney Chuck Michel, who has with updates on several cases pending before U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez as well as the half-dozen lawsuits challenging Illinois’ ban on ‘assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines.
We also get into what Michel sees as a disturbing trend among some judges to misapply or ignore the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, potentially including one of the Seventh Circuit judges who recently heard oral arguments in that challenge to Illinois’ ban. Judge Frank Easterbrook already stayed the preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn ahead of the Seventh Circuit’s hearing, and Michel says that during the oral arguments Easterbrook (who was also on the three-judge panel that heard the half-dozen challenges) seemed more interested in bashing the Bruen decision than faithfully applying its “text, history, and tradition” test to the state’s ban on modern sporting rifles and “large capacity” magazines.
If Easterbrook votes to uphold the ban, it wouldn’t be the first time. Back in 2015 Easterbrook was part of another Seventh Circuit panel that upheld a challenge to Highland Park, Illinois’ “assault weapons” ban, ruling that the most commonly-sold rifles in the country were dangerous and unusual and therefore fell beyond the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections.
The Bruen decision and the test the Supreme Court outlined within its text was supposed to stop that kind of half-baked reasoning, but as we’ve seen in recent months federal judges are still twisting the Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence in order to uphold all kinds of restrictions; from sweeping “sensitive places” enacted by states like New York and New Jersey to bans on commonly-owned ammunition magazines in states like Illinois and Oregon, where U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut recently opined that magazines aren’t “arms” at all and can be regulated to the point of non-existence, while also holding that even if they are protected by the Second Amendment in theory “large capacity” magazines are so unusually dangerous that they can still be prohibited.
Michel tells Bearing Arms that the Supreme Court is going to have to once again step in and rebuke the lower courts, and he doesn’t believe it will take twelve years for justice to do so, unlike the gap between the McDonald and Bruen decisions. And of course not every district or appeals court judge is willfully disregarding what SCOTUS has said.
To that end, Michel also provided an update on the four cases that are pending before U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez out in California, including the state’s ban on out-of-state ammunition purchases and its mandate that all in-state purchases go through a background check. Michel says at a hearing last week in Rhode v. Bonta, Judge Benitez mentioned that he needs eye surgery, and Michel said it was evident that the judge is having difficulty with his vision. Given that Judge Benitez is combing over each and every one of the ordinances and laws that California’s citing in defense of its gun laws in multiple legal challenges, Michel says the judge’s vision issues may be what’s kept him from handing down decisions in the four cases that are pending in his court. Still, Michel says he expects to get a judgement in at least Rhode v. Bonta by the end of the summer, and is optimistic that the other cases (which involve challenges to California’s bans on “large capacity” magazines, “assault weapons”, and “billy clubs”) will also be decided by Benitez at the same time or shortly thereafter.
We could only scratch the surface of the cases that Michel is involved with on today’s interview, so we’ll be bringing him back for another round next week. In the meantime, make sure you’re keeping up to speed with his work in California and beyond by signing up for email alerts from the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the Second Amendment Law Center, and kick in a few bucks to help defend our Second Amendment rights if you can.