President’s Column | Don’t Let Complacency Overturn The Bruen Decision

by
posted on March 21, 2023
Charles L. Cotton

When the NRA’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case was filed, we were confident that it would finally guarantee law-abiding Americans the right to carry self-defense firearms outside their homes. No longer would some states be allowed to tell citizens that, while they have a constitutional right to self-defense, they must leave the tools required to exercise that right at home. When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Bruen decision, it did that and so much more!

Bruen not only guarantees the right to carry firearms outside one’s home, it established a standard by which all gun laws must be judged. In order to regulate the possession of firearms, the government must be able to show that similar restrictions applied to Americans in 1791.

The Bruen decision has resulted in numerous federal and state courts striking down laws restricting possession of certain types of firearms and magazines, or restricting certain citizens from possessing firearms at all. These cases are working their way through the appellate courts and some will ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court. The NRA is working on such cases now. The future for the freedom that the Second Amendment ensures is bright, but only if the Bruen case is not overturned or watered down by a future
Court decision.

The Lord wrote the Ten Commandments in stone, but the Bruen decision is of pen and ink. Okay, it was actually a computer and printer, but you get my meaning. The point is a future Court could reject the Bruen decision in total, or water it down so badly that it is essentially useless. That’s where we—you, me and the NRA—come in. The Bruen decision did not happen in a vacuum or as a result of a favorable alignment of the stars. It was made possible by millions of Americans, NRA members and others, working hard and investing their money in a single presidential election in 2016. President Trump was elected because the NRA and its members delivered the votes in critical battleground states. President Trump’s election was the first of four critical events that had to occur in order for Bruen to be possible. The other three steps were the opportunity for him to nominate three, three, new Supreme Court judges! You can call the last three steps luck, the hand of God or simply fate, but the first step was hard work, dedication and putting our money where it was needed. The glaring truth that many hate to admit is that, but for the NRA, its members and supporters, Hillary Clinton would have won, she would have nominated three Supreme Court judges and there would have been no Bruen.

If we want Bruen to be the law of the land for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, then we cannot be complacent. As NRA president, I travel the country and speak to thousands of Americans, both NRA members and non-members. One comment I hear far too frequently frightens me to my core—“now that we have Bruen, there’s nothing to worry about.” Oh, how I wish that were true! While outright overturning a Supreme Court decision is rare, it does occur. Watering down a prior Court decision is far more common, so the risk to Bruen is very real.

To call Bruen a landmark case would be a gross understatement. It was a huge decision with a political impact as great as its legal impact on Second Amendment rights. The left is already planning for the day they can again have a majority on the Court so that Bruen can be “rejected.” If they can win one or more critical presidential elections and have the opportunity to nominate just two Supreme Court judges, then Americans will once again be living in a pre-Bruen and perhaps a pre-Heller world. This is not “Chicken Little” scare tactics, folks. Every single Supreme Court justice is just one breath away from being replaced. If vacancies occur at the wrong time, then the Second Amendment is in trouble.

Help recruit new NRA members; the cause needs them now as much as it ever did. Donate to the NRA, dig deep for the Second Amendment. When you hear your fellow gun owners express a belief that there’s no danger to the Second Amendment because of Bruen, talk to them about the reality of Supreme Court decisions. In order to be ready for the next presidential election, the next congressional elections, the next state and local elections, the next legislative battle, the next round of Second Amendment lawsuits, the NRA needs members and resources. Members equal voices and votes. Money is the fuel that makes fighting these many battles possible.

Hope is not a strategy, and complacency is deadly. The victory we achieved in Bruen has enraged the enemies of the Second Amendment. We must stay vigilant and we must stay in the fight. Bruen was a battle—a major battle, to be sure, but the war is not over. My fellow Texans will understand this analogy—I will stay on the wall! Will you?

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