Many NRA members are aware of the work that ILA does on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the country. Already this year we’ve seen multiple NRA-backed constitutional carry bills, enhanced self-defense bills and bills to stop the use of emergency powers to curtail gun rights pass in the states. We are the Institute for Legislative Action, after all. But our work to protect and expand our right to keep and bear arms in the courts is just as important, and its something I’ve taken personal interest in since taking the helm at ILA.
Nowhere is our legal work more important than in those states where our legislative options to improve gun rights are limited, or even nonexistent. That’s why states like California and New York are regular defendants in NRA-backed lawsuits. Only last year, New York City was a defendant in an NRA-supported challenge that resulted in the Supreme Court taking its first gun case in about a decade. The city ended up folding on its clearly unconstitutional handgun transportation law to avoid a broad ruling from the high court, but now we’re back at the Supreme Court with a challenge to New York State’s restrictive carry permit regime.
Despite the best efforts of the NRA to expand “shall-issue” concealed carry licensing to the entire United States, New York—and a handful of other hold-out states—continue to enforce their restrictive “may-issue” systems. In practice, “may-issue” systems just give government bureaucrats this power to deny law-abiding Americans their right to bear arms. It’s notable that anti-gun federal lawmakers are working to add this kind of bureaucratic authority to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, by allowing the FBI to create indefinite delays on firearm transactions. See my article in this issue that goes into more detail on that disastrous legislation.
On a more positive note, as I write this, the Supreme Court has just scheduled a conference to discuss accepting New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Many NRA members may be more familiar with this case as NYSRPA v. Beach or NYSRPA v. Corlett because the case name has changed several times due to changes in the office of the superintendent of the New York State Police. In this case, we’re challenging New York’s discretionary “may-issue” permitting system. If we’re successful, then this case may make it possible for every law-abiding American to exercise their right to bear arms throughout all 50 states and in federal territories. While this case is hugely important, we’re involved in many other cases across the country.
In California, many readers will be familiar with Duncan v. Becerra, the NRA-backed case that brought gun owners in the Golden State “freedom week.” That is, the one week where Californians were not constrained by the state’s arbitrary and unconstitutional 10-round magazine limit. California appealed, and we won on appeal too, but now the state is again appealing to a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Needless to say, we’ll keep fighting gun and magazine bans as long as states enact them. I’m committed to continuing to fight arbitrary bans like this one until every week in America is “freedom week.”
Also out of California is Rhode v. Becerra, where we’ve been honored to join with multi-time Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode to challenge California’s new byzantine ammunition regulations. These new rules have made it practically impossible for many Californians to acquire ammunition, at a time when the ammunition supply is already constrained.
Since 2018, we’ve seen a growing trend of states attempting to completely ban 18-to 20-year-old adults from acquiring firearms. That’s why we’re challenging Florida’s 18-to 20-year-olds ban in National Rifle Association v. Swearengin. There is no reason to categorically deny law-abiding adults their Second Amendment rights. If young adults are old enough to bear arms on behalf of our country, then they are old enough to bear arms to defend themselves and their families.
Just last month, we had a victory in Chambers v. City of Boulder, a Colorado challenge using the state’s preemption statute to block local gun control by the City of Boulder. The city had enacted a gun and magazine ban, which was pretty clearly beyond their authority due to Colorado’s firearm preemption law. As of the time of this writing, the city had not yet appealed the decision.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous attacks on gun-owner rights in recent years are attempts to undermine state preemption. NRA has worked for the last three decades to enact and expand state firearm preemption laws to ensure that states don’t end up with a patchwork of confusing and conflicting gun laws. Defending these laws in court remains one of our main litigation priorities to protect the rights of gun owners.
These cases represent just a mere fraction of the total cases that ILA is currently involved in to protect our right to keep and bear arms. As a member, I’m extremely proud of the work ILA does to defend the Second Amendment in court.
If you’re interested in learning more about ILA’s litigation efforts, please check nraila.org regularly for litigation updates and sign up to receive weekly updates at nraila.org/sign-up.