NEW YORK’S GOVERNOR HOCHUL REFUSES TO ACCEPT THE BRUEN DECISION — “IT’S LIKE DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN,” IN THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF YOGI BERRA
POST BRUEN—WHAT IT ALL MEANS BOTH FOR THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS AND THOSE WHO SEEK TO UNDERMINE AND EVENTUALLY DESTROY EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT
“I reiterate: All that we decide in this case is that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding people to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense and that the Sullivan Law, which makes that virtually impossible for most New Yorkers, is unconstitutional.” ~ Closing paragraph of Part One of Justice Alito’s Concurring Opinion in Bruen
There are two key components of Bruen. One involves the test that Federal, and State Courts must employ when they are called upon to review Governmental actions that impact the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The second involves the matter of “proper cause”/ “may issue” that is at the heart of the gun licensing regime of New York and that was the central topic of concern at oral argument in Bruen. And Bruen impacts other jurisdictions around the Country that have similar handgun licensing structures.
As we all know, the High Court in Bruen struck down the foundation of the New York’s concealed handgun carry license regime—the salient constituent of which is the unrestricted concealed handgun carry license component.
Few people in New York “are privileged” to hold such valued and rare licenses, as those that have them can rely on handguns for self-defense in the public sphere, i.e., outside the home as well as inside it—a right denied to most all New York residents.
First things first. We deal with the test that reviewing Courts must use when reviewing Governmental actions impacting 2A.
The U.S. Supreme Court did articulate in Heller the test to be utilized by the Federal and State Courts when reviewing Governmental actions impacting the Second Amendment, but all too many Courts demonstrated a barely disguised antipathy toward it, or otherwise exhibited a tired apathy apropos of it. In either case such jurisdictions resorted to their own case precedent.
The appropriate test to be employed—the Heller test—involves a two-step process.
The first step is easy or should be easy if a reviewing Court doesn’t make what is a simple matter difficult.
A reviewing Court first ascertains whether the Governmental action conflicts with the plain meaning of the Second Amendment. This means simply that the Court looks to see if the Governmental action affects the Second Amendment at all. If the Governmental action impacts on the individual right to keep and bear arms, then, the first part of the test is met. The Government action is presumed unconstitutional and the burden to prove that the action is constitutional rests on the Government, not on the individual asserting the right to be exercised—the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Thus, in the second part of the test, the Government must prove that the action is consistent with the historical tradition of firearm’s regulation.
If the Government fails to establish historical precedent, then the regulation must be struck down.
Justice Thomas, writing for the majority, said this:
“We reiterate that the standard for applying the Second Amendment is as follows: When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct. The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only then may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”
Pay close attention to the phrase, “we reiterate” as utilized by Justice Thomas in the main Majority Opinion and as also utilized by Justice Alito in his Concurring Opinion.
In colloquial parlance, the word, ‘reiterate’ means ‘to say something again or several times, typically for emphasis or clarity, and often alluding to a feeling of weariness for having to do so.’ Such is the reason for the term’s appearance in Bruen and such is the profound frustration apparent in the Majority Opinion.
By using the word, ‘reiterate,’ in Bruen, the High Court expressed its disdain with the lower Courts for continually failing to heed Heller. This may be due to antipathy, even spite toward the Heller decision. Or it may be due to ignorance, apathy or sloppiness, or philosophical leanings, or stubborn adherence to lower Court precedence. That it happens at all is a dreadful thing—thus the need for Bruen—and, still, we see the Federal Government and State Governments and State and Federal Courts contending with Heller and with McDonald, and intending now to contend with Bruen, as well. How many cases must the U.S. Supreme Court hear before Government gets the message: that the right codified in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution is a natural law right: fundamental, unalienable, immutable, illimitable, eternal, and absolute?
Heller laid out the test and the Majority Opinion stated that fact explicitly.
—The point being that the High Court wasn’t positing a new standard of review of Second Amendment cases in Bruen, but it was merely confirming the test as promulgated in Heller that all too many lower Courts had heretofore failed to apply. And in that failure, the lower Courts were jeopardizing the sanctity of the fundamental right of the people to keep and bear arms, as an individual right unconnected with one’s service in a militia.
Justice Thomas, writing for the Court Majority, was telling those lower Federal and State Courts that had heretofore applied a ‘means-test analysis’ in Second Amendment cases—a test also referred to as an ‘interest-balancing approach’ or ‘interest-balancing inquiry,’ or, in Court vernacular, an ‘intermediate scrutiny test’ in testing the Constitutionality of a Governmental action—that those Courts had gotten it all wrong!
Those lower Courts were giving their imprimatur to Governmental actions that all was well and good when nothing was well and good with those actions as they infringed the clear intent of the Second Amendment. The Courts should have struck those actions down. They didn’t. And in affirming the constitutional correctness of unconstitutional acts those Courts compounded their sin against the people and against the Divine Creator. For the Divine Creator had bestowed on man and in man the right of self-defense.
And the general sacred right of self-defense subsumes armed self-defense, which is but a species of the Divine Right of personal survival of body, mind, and spirit against those people or Government that would dare to destroy or subjugate body, mind, or spirit to another’s will or to the will of the State over the Self.
There are several examples of this failure to heed Heller, but the starkest example is Friedman vs. Highland Park, 784 F. 3d, 406 (7th Cir. 2015), cert denied, 577 U.S. 1039 (2015).
The Friedman case is particularly noteworthy, especially today, because the Court had the opportunity to deal head-on with the issue whether so-called “assault weapons” fall within the core of Second Amendment protection. Had the Court taken that case up, it would have ruled that “assault weapons” do fall within Second Amendment protection, and that would have saved the American people a lot of aggravation and heartache that is at present heaped on them by a treacherous and obstructionist Biden Administration, a treacherous, obstinate Democrat Party-controlled Congress, an obstreperous, perfidious legacy Press, and a painfully passive, acquiescent, obsequious, worthless Republican Party.
Of course, the expression, ‘assault weapon,’ is a fiction. That’s all it ever was. It isn’t a military term of art, and never was a military term of art; and it isn’t and wasn’t ever used in the arms industry as such either.
Propagandists devised the term for politicians and a seditious Press for its effect on gullible members of the American public who allow the Government and the Press to do their thinking for them—seducing them through emotive words and images to sacrifice their God-Given Rights for nothing but an illusion of or false hope of security if they would but place their faith in the State to protect them, but from what is never made clear.
What is clear is that the State wishes to protect itself from the armed citizenry, as it is the end goal of the State to oppress the citizenry, not provide for the citizenry’s succor, much less its salvation. For salvation can only come from the Divine Creator anyway, not from the State—a false god, a fake, cardboard god.
Propagandists originally meant to ascribe the expression, ‘assault weapon,’ to some but not all semiautomatic handguns, rifles, and shotguns. But, of late, especially with the latest Texas school shooting incident—with the Biden Administration, riding a wave of public anxiety and anger over public school shootings—the Administration has chosen to exasperate public anxiety rather than allay it, seeking to ban all semiautomatic weapons or placing them under the purview of the NFA and that means under the heavy hand of the ATF. And this is as we at AQ had predicted long ago.
But this would all be a non-issue if the U.S. Supreme Court had a chance to rule on “assault weapons” in the years following the Heller decision. The Court certainly had the chance to do so in the Friedman case. And, God knows, Justice Thomas for one wanted to deal with this matter, but obviously could not get support from the liberal wing of the Court or from the Chief Justice, John Roberts, or from Justice Kennedy both of whom had no stomach for establishing clearly and categorically the salient reason for the Second Amendment: which is that Government was created to serve the American people, not the other way around.
An armed citizenry signals to Government that the people are Sovereign over Government and over their Nation, and that firearms provide the means by which Government must bow to the will and sovereignty of the people, whether Government reluctantly agrees to do so or not.
It is a curious thing that the supporters of tyranny constantly complain about the firepower of modern semiautomatic weaponry, emphasizing in a hysterical way that such weapons are designed for the military—the standing army of the Federal Government.
To be sure, that weaponry of the American citizen is supposed to be military weaponry, designed for just such a cataclysm: to prevent an unrestrained Government and its standing army, and its militarized police, and its vast intelligence apparatus that seeks to bend the citizenry to its will.
The right of the people, and the duty of the people, and the ability of the people to resist Government oppression and subjugation is only feasible where the citizenry is armed, and armed to the hilt, and armed with military weapons.
In fact, it is not just the semiautomatic weapons that Americans have a fundamental right to possess then; it is the selective fire weapons and fully automatic personnel weapons that Americans have a God-Given right to wield. Of course, a tyrannical Government would attempt to prevent the citizenry from having access to just that sort of weaponry by which the people might succeed in resisting tyranny.
The NFA should be repealed; no question about that. Instead, the Harris-Biden Administration wants to extend its purview over semiautomatic weaponry and, of course, eventually over all weapons.
A dire confrontation between the citizenry and the Government is inevitable if the Executive and Legislative Branches do not soon come to their senses and acknowledge that those that serve in those Branches of Government owe their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution as written, and to the American people they have a duty to serve. It is not the American people that must bow down or defer to these Government servants, much less deify them.
It is they, the smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous servants of Government that need to be put in their place, and that place may well be the chopping block.
THE “ASSAULT WEAPON” TEST CASE: WILL NEW YORK REVERT TO “INTEREST-BALANCING” AFTER BRUEN TO SAFEGUARD AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL HANDGUN LICENSING REGIME?
As explained by the Seventh Circuit in Friedman, “The City of Highland Park has an ordinance (§136.005 of the City Code) that prohibits possession of assault weapons or large-capacity magazines (those that can accept more than ten rounds).” See AQ article published May 1, 2018, for further explication of Government failure to recognize the Constitutionality of civilian ownership and possession of semiautomatic weapons, derogatorily and erroneously referred to as “assault weapons.”
The High Court in Heller ordered Courts not to utilize interest-balancing when reviewing the constitutionality of a Governmental action impacting the Second Amendment. That was explicit. The Seventh Circuit used that test anyway and found the ordinance did not violate the Second Amendment. That was hardly surprising. Whenever a reviewing Court uses interest-balancing to test the constitutionality of a Governmental action impacting the Second Amendment, the Court invariably finds an unconstitutional act to not violate the Constitution. That is why the U.S. Supreme Court dispensed with interest-balancing. When a Court uses that test, it gives the illusion that the Court is truly balancing the interests between the State action and the individual right. But the individual right always loses to the State action. That is inevitable.
To add insult to injury, the Seventh Circuit was using the very test that Justice Breyer championed in Heller, and which he referred to again, in Bruen. But Breyer was writing a dissenting opinion in Heller, and he stuck with it in Bruen. A dissenting opinion isn’t the Court’s holding. But many jurisdictions wanted the dissenting opinion to operate as a holding in Second Amendment cases. And so, they pretend the dissenting opinion in Heller was the majority ruling opinion. It is incredible. Such rulings of lower Courts utilizing a test that the majority in Heller did not countenance and explicitly and emphatically refuted, would rely on that test, interest-balancing, anyway.
In Friedman, the Seventh Circuit decided to go with the dissent’s reasoning rather than with the law as propounded by the Majority in Heller. Justice Thomas was justifiably furious. And he took the Seventh Circuit to task, and, by extension, tacitly chastised those members of the High Court who did not want to hear the case.
Given its importance to the reasoning and ruling in Bruen we cite at length the comment of Justice Thomas in the Friedman case which the High Court refused to grant hearing on. Justice Thomas said, in substantial and pertinent part—with the late, eminent Justice Scalia joining him,
“Based on its crabbed reading of Heller, the Seventh Circuit felt free to adopt a test for assessing firearm bans that eviscerates many of the protections recognized in Heller and McDonald. The court asked in the first instance whether the banned firearms ‘were common at the time of ratification’ in 1791. But we said in Heller that ‘the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.’
The Seventh Circuit alternatively asked whether the banned firearms relate ‘to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’ The court concluded that state and local ordinances never run afoul of that objective, since ‘states, which are in charge of militias, should be allowed to decide when civilians can possess military-grade firearms.’ But that ignores Heller’s fundamental premise: The right to keep and bear arms is an independent, individual right. Its scope is defined not by what the militia needs, but by what private citizens commonly possess Moreover, the Seventh Circuit endorsed the view of the militia that Heller rejected. . . .
The Seventh Circuit alternatively asked whether the banned firearms relate ‘to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’ The court concluded that state and local ordinances never run afoul of that objective, since ‘states, which are in charge of militias, should be allowed to decide when civilians can possess military-grade firearms.’ But that ignores Heller’s fundamental premise: The right to keep and bear arms is an independent, individual right. Its scope is defined not by what the militia needs, but by what private citizens commonly possess.
The Seventh Circuit ultimately upheld a ban on many common semiautomatic firearms based on speculation about the law’s potential policy benefits. The court conceded that handguns — not ‘assault weapons’ — ‘are responsible for the vast majority of gun violence in the United States.’ Still, the court concluded, the ordinance ‘may increase the public’s sense of safety,’ which alone is ‘a substantial benefit.’
Heller, however, forbids subjecting the Second Amendment’s ‘core protection . . . to a freestanding ‘interest-balancing’ approach. . . .’ There is no basis for a different result when our Second Amendment precedents are at stake. I would grant certiorari to prevent the Seventh Circuit from relegating the Second Amendment to a second-class right [citations omitted; passim].”
THE HELLER TEST
Justice Thomas spent considerable time in Bruen outlining the Heller test so that there would be no doubt as to the standard of review lower Federal and State Courts must employ when a Government action impinges upon the Second Amendment. He said:
“The test that we set forth in Heller and apply today requires courts to assess whether modern firearms regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding. . . .”
“In Heller, we began with a ‘textual analysis’ focused on the ‘normal and ordinary’ meaning of the Second Amendment’s language. That analysis suggested that the Amendment’s operative clause—‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed’—‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation that does not depend on service in the militia.
From there, we assessed whether our initial conclusion was ‘confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. . . .’ We looked to history because ‘it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment . . . codified a pre-existing right.’ The Amendment ‘was not intended to lay down a novel principle but rather codified a right inherited from our English ancestors.” After surveying English history dating from the late 1600s, along with American colonial views leading up to the founding, we found ‘no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.’
We then canvassed the historical record and found yet further confirmation. That history included the ‘analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed adoption of the Second Amendment’ and ‘how the Second Amendment was interpreted from immediately after its ratification through the end of the 19th century,” . . . . When the principal dissent charged that the latter category of sources was illegitimate ‘post enactment legislative history’. . . . We clarified that ‘examination of a variety of legal and other sources to determine the public understanding of a legal text in the period after its enactment or ratification’ was “a critical tool of constitutional interpretation. . . .’”
This boils down to the following:
First, look at the plain meaning of the Second Amendment: The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual right. The militia clause sets forth simply a rationale for it—to inhibit the incursion of Tyranny in Government—which therefore emphasizes the need for the American people—as individuals—to keep Tyranny in check through the best means available: force of arms. In fact, this is the only way to keep Tyranny in check. And we see this now. Tyranny now exists in Government. Sadly, there’s no question about it.
It is more than mere wish that drives Anti-Second Amendment usurpers to deny Americans their right to keep and bear arms. It is abject fear, even panic, which motivates them to openly defy the transparent and categorical meaning of the Second Amendment.
Among many Americans who had placed their faith in Government but who hadn’t succumbed to Government’s new religious dogma of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”—upon which the Destroyers of our Nation, and of our Constitution, and of a free and sovereign people insidiously cloaked their aims to dismantle the Republic so that they may thrust the remains into the “NWO” a.k.a. “Neoliberal World Order” a.k.a. “International World Order,” a.k.a. the “Open Society,”—the truth is becoming known.
Even the most obtuse of American sees that the Federal Government and that the Soros-funded State and local Governments are moving this Nation perilously close to destruction and oblivion. And it is much too late for these ruthless creatures that seek the demise of a free Constitutional Republic and a Sovereign American people over Nation and Government to disguise that fact.
The Bruen decision establishes the stakes for the American people. It is a zero-sum game. There is no compromise. There can be no compromise with a Tyrant. Americans have a fundamental God-Given unalienable right of armed self-defense against predatory beast, predatory man-beast, and predatory Government, i.e., tyranny. Heller and McDonald made this Truth plain. The Federal Government and many States refused to listen. So, the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated the right of armed self-defense. Will the Federal Government and the States listen? Judging by what we see from the actions of New York, the State Government intends to do war with Americans. Far from complying with Bruen, Governor Hochul and the New York Legislature in Albany have no intention of complying with Bruen, any more than New York did with Heller and McDonald. In fact, Bruen makes gun ownership in New York worse, much worse, especially for those that wish to secure an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license.
The New York Government has told the U.S. Supreme Court plainly “to go to Hell,” and they mean the same for those citizens who reside in New York who wish to exercise their God-Given right of armed self-defense.
The danger to the security of a free State is currently very much in doubt. That is why we are spending considerable time on Bruen and will continue to do so in the next several installments, leading up to the critical Midterm Elections in November.
Copyright © 2022 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.