The Most-Surprising Second Amendment Stories of 2023

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posted on December 31, 2023
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Another year has come and gone, and with it so did many important battles in the ongoing fight to defend our Second Amendment rights. These are the top stories of the past year—both good and bad—that we’ll still be talking about in 2024.

  1. Constitutional Carry Continues to Spread

Earlier this year, Nebraska became the 27th state to get out of the way when it comes to law-abiding citizens’ right to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

“Nebraska joined 26 other states whose constituents and leaders recognize that law-abiding Americans should not have to ask for special government permission and pay additional fees in order to exercise their rights outside of the home,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). “The NRA has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Americans to defend themselves for decades, and we’re thrilled that this protection has now come to Nebraskans.”

The Cornhusker State was also joined by Florida, which also passed its version of constitutional carry in April. “This is a momentous step in the Constitutional Carry movement as now the majority of American states recognize the Constitution protects the right for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves outside their homes without fees or permits,” said Kozuch at the time.

This incredible growth for constitutional carry builds on the success of recent years, including 2022 and 2021, where four and five states joined the ranks, respectively.

“The gun-control lobby and their allies pledged to dismantle self-defense laws and the Second Amendment. That strategy has backfired. In 2021, there were 16 states with NRA Constitutional Carry. Just three years later, there are 27 states. Americans in 11 states stood with freedom and the NRA,” said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre of constitutional carry’s expansion.

  1. Madness in New Mexico

While the expansion of constitutional carry throughout various states is welcome news, what’s happening in New Mexico paints a grim future for the Second Amendment if gun controllers had their way.

In September, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she was suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days. When she did this local law-enforcement officials protested.

The governor’s executive order (since amended and renewed) initially imposed a 30-day ban on carrying firearms in public places under the guise of “a statewide public-health emergency.”

Gov. Grisham said that she didn’t expect criminals to follow the order. She just hoped it sent “a resounding message” to everyone else—meaning those who lawfully carry. “The point here is, is that, if everyone did it, and I wasn’t legally challenged, you would have fewer risks on the street, and I could safely say, to every New Mexican, particularly those folks living in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, I believe that you’re safer for the next 30 days, we have to wait and see,” said Gov. Grisham.

Since then, Grisham has sought to renew her order despite multiple legal challenges and constitutional violations. “No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute,” she replied when a reporter challenged her “public-health emergency” carry ban.

“Governor Lujan Grisham doesn’t appear ready to admit she already has the tools necessary to combat violent criminals, or that her order is unconstitutional. In fact, we would not be surprised to see her ratchet up her assaults on the Second Amendment, as well as continue to promote do-nothing publicity stunts like voluntary gun turn-ins. NRA will continue to fight back with a steady defense of law-abiding gun owners, including in the courtroom, so stay tuned for further updates,” reported NRA-ILA.

Grisham’s actions, no matter how unconstitutional, clearly illustrate the lengths that those who abhor the Second Amendment will go to in pursuit of their agenda.

  1. California Came for the Second Amendment

New Mexico wasn’t the only state that came for the Second Amendment this past year. This might not be a surprise, but the actions of the Golden State’s governor should give those who cherish this freedom pause.

In June, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proposed a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would, as he put it, “enshrine 4 widely supported gun safety freedoms—while leaving the 2nd Amendment intact.”

These “freedoms,” according to Newsom, include raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, implementing a so-called “universal” background check law, constitutionally mandating a “reasonable” waiting period for gun purchases and banning whatever might be deemed an “assault weapon.”

Gavin Newsom’s “stunt once again shows that his unhinged contempt for the right to self-defense has no bounds. California is a beacon for violence because of Newsom’s embrace of policies that champion the criminal and penalize the law-abiding. That is why the majority of Americans rightfully reject his California-style gun control,” wrote the NRA in response to Newsom’s announcement.

Newsom also believes gun owners should be taxed for exercising their constitutional rights. Earlier this year, he signed a bill that adds an 11% tax on all gun and ammunition purchases on top of the federal government’s 10% or 11% tax on gun purchases.

“This is not a general income tax, not a corporate tax, this is … from my perspective, more of a sin tax, where there is a cause and effect and justification,” said Newsom.

Of course, Newsom is also all but officially running for higher office. He even challenged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to a debate, which did not go well for Newsom.

In addition to all of Newsom’s stunts, a clear example of California’s ill treatment of those who practice right occurred when officials suspended the carry permit of a Los Angeles resident who defended his family.

“After successfully defending my home and my family and my five-month-old child, California has now decided to suspend my Second Amendment [rights],” said Vince Ricci. “My situation is unique because it happened at my front door, all on camera. But this happens time and time again all over the country. … People sweep it under the rug because it doesn’t behoove their political agenda. The fact is, evil will always exist.”

  1. Joe Biden Created a Gun-Control Office

Speaking of pushing a gun-control agenda, President Joe Biden (D) created a “federal office” in the White House dedicated to enforcing such an agenda at the expense of taxpayers. This office is dubbed the “Office of Gun Violence Prevention.”

“[T]he Office of Gun Violence Prevention along with the rest of my administration will continue to do everything it can to combat the epidemic of gun violence,” read a statement from Biden on the establishment of this official gun-control office in the White House.

This office will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris (D) and it is predictably filled with anti-Second Amendment activists. Joining Harris as the office’s director is longtime Biden aide Stefanie Feldman, who led the policy efforts for the 2020 Biden/Harris ticket and routinely voiced her animus for constitutionally protected freedoms on X (known as Twitter at the time). The office will also include Robert Wilcox, a former senior director of the anti-Second Amendment group Everytown for Gun Safety, as deputy director, and Greg Jackson, an activist with the “public health”-driven gun-control group Community Justice Action Fund.

This Orwellian-named office will, as the White House noted, “focus on implementing executive and legislative action, including historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) signed by President Biden, to end the scourge of gun violence in America.”

Predictably, the BSCA, which the NRA warned could, and likely would, be abused, has already been used by the Biden administration in dishonest ways. This includes attempting to strip elementary and secondary schools of federal funding if they had the audacity to keep their successful and popular archery and hunting programs. At the time of publication, this policy had been rebuked by Congress.

In reality, the purpose of this office “is to employ professional gun-control advocates and amplify their propaganda and agenda with taxpayer dollars,” wrote NRA-ILA.

“Despite its official-sounding title, it must be remembered that Biden’s ‘office’ is not an agency that has been approved and staffed by Congress, but a bunch of political partisans sitting around a desk. It must be treated as such. And, once its plan has been defeated, the next president must consign it to history,” wrote America’s 1st Freedom contributor Charles C.W. Cooke of the newly created office.

  1. The NRA Fights Back

While the likes of California and New Mexico came for the Second Amendment, those in power in New York made clear their goal to “destroy” this country’s oldest civil-rights organization that stands to defend our constitutional rights.

While he was governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo (D) made his intentions clear when he tweeted on Aug. 3, 2018: “The regulations NY put in place are working. We’re forcing the NRA into financial jeopardy. We won’t stop until we shut them down.”

What preceded that vow was a campaign meant to silence the NRA forever.

At the behest of Gov. Cuomo, the then-superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), Maria Vullo, took aim at the NRA and agreed to use the DFS’ regulatory power to financially blacklist the NRA to thereby coerce banks and insurers to cut ties with the NRA. She wanted to suppress the NRA’s pro-Second Amendment speech.

The NRA filed suit to defend its members and the freedoms they believe in. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case National Rifle Association of America v. Maria T. Vullo for review. The decision is a landmark development in one of the most-closely watched First Amendment cases in the nation.

“This is a historic step forward for free speech, the NRA’s millions of members, and for all who believe in freedom,” said Wayne LaPierre. “The NRA’s fight for justice continues—this time in the highest court in the land. At a time when free speech is under attack as never before, it is important that government officials be sent a message that they cannot use intimidation tactics to silence those with whom they disagree.”

Many amicus briefs representing 40 individuals and organizations were filed in support of the NRA. 

The amicus briefs include those from state attorney generals from Montana and 17 other states, in addition to a brief filed jointly by Texas and Indiana. Various business and legal scholars, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and the Gun Owners of America, among others, also submitted briefs. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also joined as co-counsel in support for the NRA. 

“These are clear First Amendment violations from state officials who don’t like the Second Amendment. Indeed, this case shows once again that the NRA, your civil-liberties association, works to protect a cornerstone of American freedom. When power-hungry officials, such as these in New York, see our freedom as an impediment to their power, they try to silence our voice in support of the Second Amendment,” wrote America’s 1st Freedom Editor in Chief Frank Miniter.

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