S.C. Senate Passes Constitutional Carry Bill, Sends it Back to House for Another Vote (Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, 7:00pm)

The South Carolina Senate passed its version of the South Carolina “Open Carry” bill, H.3594, officially named Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023, yesterday afternoon.

The legislation had been under debate for almost a week, centering on the lack of a training requirement in the bill. But an amendment proposed late Wednesday night by Senate Majority leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), which would offer free gun training overseen by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) at least twice a month in every county, add additional penalties for people who illegally carry a gun where it’s prohibited, and create a statewide marketing campaign to inform people of these increased penalties, appears to be the compromise that got the bill passed.

Even so, there was still some opposition to the compromise amendment, including by the Judiciary Committee chair, a Republican, who argued that the amendment wasn’t enough to overcome the opposition of police chiefs from across South Carolina who urged lawmakers to keep the mandatory training requirement in place.

The bill would ban guns in the same places where they are currently not allowed, including schools, churches and courthouses, and the current State Concealed Carry framework would remain in place so that people could still obtain a concealed weapons permit if they wanted to do so (for maintaining reciprocity in other states, for example). The bill also increases penalties for people who illegally carry guns, including felons who carry despite being legally prohibited from doing so, and for people who possess stolen guns.

This bill will next head back to the S.C. House, which passed their version last year, which will have to vote on the amended version of the bill. The House can either agree with the Senate’s changes and send the bill to the governor for signature or they can propose and approve further changes to the Senate version and send the bill back to the Senate. Governor McMaster has publicly stated that he supports the bill as passed by the Senate, and hopes the House concurs with the Senate version and sends it to his desk “immediately.”



Federal Judge Dismisses Charges Against Postal Worker for Carrying Gun in Post Office (Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, 5:00pm)

A U.S. District Judge in Tampa, FL recently dismissed charges against a postal worker for possessing a gun in a post office. Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, appointed by former President Donald Trump, made the ruling, deeming that the federal statute under which the defendant was charged, which that prohibits the possession of firearms in federal facilities, including post offices, violated the defendant’s Second Amendment rights.

In making the ruling, Judge Mizelle expressly referenced the historical evolution of federal law regarding firearms in government buildings and emphasized that no historical practice dating back to the 1700s justified the post office gun ban, and, as such, applied what has become known as the Supreme Court’s “Bruen Standard” in determining that the prohibition was unconstitutional.



UPDATE: S.C. Senate Now Set to Vote on Open Carry Bill This Week (Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, 12:00pm)

It is now being reported that a floor vote on the South Carolina “Open Carry” bill, H.3594, is now expected to take place “on or before” this coming Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. According to at least one pro-Second Amendment organization, it appears there are some traditional pro-gun allies in the SC Senate that are “on the fence” about voting yes for this bill, although no particular individuals were named. If true, this might mean that passage of the bill is still in question.

MCRC members concerned about this issue are encouraged to contact their State Senator and respectfully communicate their interest. Contact information for all current members of the South Carolina State Senate (in alphabetical order) can be found by clicking on the following text: South Carolina Legislature Online – Member Biography (scstatehouse.gov)



UPDATE: South Carolina Senate Continues to Debate Constitutional Carry Bill (Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, 4:00pm)

As previously reported, the South Carolina “Constitutional Carry” bill, H.3594, was brought to the State Senate floor for consideration yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. During that consideration, four additional amendments to the bill were introduced, including one to include establishments serving alcohol to the list of premises where weapons cannot be carried and another to allow for a process by which a judge can review the post-conviction prohibition from possessing a firearm for certain non-violent felonies and, if warranted, limit the prohibition to a period of not greater than five (5) years. Debate on these amendments was then “interrupted by adjournment”, meaning Wednesday’s session ended without further action on either the bill or the amendments. Further debate on the bill and amendments was held today, according to the official Senate record, but, once again, the debate was again “interrupted by adjournment” without a vote being held. At present, there is no indication as to when floor debate on the bill & amendments will be concluded and when a vote will be held.



URGENT: South Carolina Senate Set to Vote on Constitutional Carry Bill Tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, 7:00pm)

It is being reported by various credible sources that the South Carolina “Constitutional Carry” bill, H.3594 (a copy of which can be found by clicking on the following text: South Carolina Legislature Online – Bill Search by Bill Number (scstatehouse.gov)), has been “fast-tracked” by the S.C. Senate, and is now set for a vote tomorrow, Wednesday, January 24, 2024.

This bill, which was passed the S.C. House in Feb. 2023 and has been awaiting Senate action since that time, would allow law-abiding gun owners to legally carry a firearm, open or concealed, without a government permit, while strengthening criminal penalties for illegal possession of a firearm. If the bill is passed without amendment by the Senate, it will go to Governor Henry McMaster’s desk for signature. If amendments are added, the bill will go back for reconsideration and vote by the House of Representatives on the amended legislation.

MCRC members with an interest in this issue are encouraged to contact their State Senator as soon as possible before tomorrow’s vote and respectfully communicate their interest in this matter. Contact information for all current members of the South Carolina State Senate (in alphabetical order) can be found by clicking on the following text: South Carolina Legislature Online – Member Biography (scstatehouse.gov)



New York Federal Court Denies State Request to Dismiss Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn “Assault Weapon” Ban (Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, 1:00pm)

A U.S. District Court judge this week has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging to New York’s “assault weapons” ban, allowing the challenge to proceed in federal court. The lawsuit, filed by two New York residents supported by gun rights advocacy groups in December 2022, challenged the state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” claiming the law was “infringing the right of law-abiding, peaceable citizens to keep and bear commonly possessed firearms for defense of self and family and for other lawful purposes.”

In response to the lawsuit, attorneys for New York officials filed a motion in the Southern District of New York to dismiss the complaint in May 2023, arguing that the court does not have the jurisdiction to address the plaintiffs’ claims. The state officials’ legal team said the plaintiffs “fail to establish that any injury-in-fact is traceable to the assault weapons ban” because they do not say they hold a license required to buy a semiautomatic rifle. However, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas sided with the plaintiffs, disagreeing with the defendants’ arguments and denying state officials’ motion to dismiss the case.

“While there may be serious questions about Plaintiffs’ exemption argument, the Court need not address that question here because Plaintiffs adequately allege standing under Defendants’ interpretation of the statute,” Judge Karas wrote. “Put simply, Defendants have failed to explain how invalidating the Assault Weapons Ban would have no effect on the ability to obtain licenses for those same weapons.”

The lawsuit will now proceed on the merits.



Federal Court Blocks California Attempt to Restrict Concealed Carry in Public Places (Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, 3:00pm)

A federal district court judge in California has ruled that a California state law that banned people from carrying guns in most public places violates the U.S. Constitution. The list of places that the law prohibited the carrying of firearms included all daycare and school grounds, college campuses, government and judicial buildings, medical facilities, public parks and playgrounds, correctional institutions, public transit, public demonstrations and gatherings, athletic and professional sporting facilities, public libraries, amusement parks, zoos and museums, places of worship, banks, polling places, gambling establishments, any place where alcohol is sold and any other privately owned commercial establishment that is open to the public (unless the business owner took the affirmative step of putting up a sign saying guns are OK).

The federal district court said the law went too far by prohibiting lawful gun owners from carrying firearms in nearly every public place in California, and therefore effectively abolished “the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding and exceptionally qualified citizens to be armed and to defend themselves in public.”

The California Attorney General has said he will appeal the ruling, but, for the time being, the law, which was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, is now on hold while the case makes its way through the federal court system.



U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Request for Injunction to Stop Illinois from Enforcing Semi-Automatic Weapon Ban (Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, 1:00pm)

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that denied a request for a temporary injunction against enforcement by the state of Illinois of its recently enacted ban against certain semi-automatic weapons and firearms accessories.

In an order with no noted dissents or explanation of its decision, the Supreme Court effectively allowed the ban, signed by Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January and which includes penalties for any individual who “carries[,] possesses [or] manufactures, sells, delivers, imports, or purchases any assault weapon or .50 caliber rifle” or “sells, manufactures, delivers, imports, possesses, or purchases any assault weapon attachment or .50 caliber cartridge”, to remain in force. The law also bans any kits or tools used to increase the fire rate of a semiautomatic weapon and includes a limit for purchases of certain magazines.

After this ruling, the law will remain in force while it is fully litigated in the lower courts.



Federal Court Activity on Challenges to New York Gun Control Laws (Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, 6:00pm)

Two lawsuits in New York have resulted to changes in that state’s recently enacted restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms. In the first case, Christian v. Chiumento, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that a provision of the state law requiring private property owners to post signs allowing concealed carry on property open to the public, and penalizing non-compliance as a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, was unconstitutional, noting that the regulated conduct — carrying a firearm for personal protection on private property — “falls within the Second Amendment right to carry” and, as such, a property owner shouldn’t be compelled by law, and possible criminal conviction, to have to post that such legal conduct is permitted. The second case, Hardaway v. Chiumento, plaintiffs had challenged a provision of the same state law which prohibited concealed carry in places of worship. This lawsuit led to the New York legislature changing the law to allow pastors and “persons responsible for security” to carry guns in places of worship.

In related news, a federal lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York against the Cortland, N.Y. Housing Authority (CHA), alleging CHA has violated the 2nd Amendment by prohibiting tenants from possessing firearms on CHA premises. The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary and permanent injunction, and a judgment by the court that this firearms ban is unconstitutional under the 2nd and 14th Amendments. The lawsuit is also seeking compensatory and/or punitive damages. This case is similar to a case filed in Illinois a few years ago, in which a federal court issued a permanent injunction against the East St. Louis Housing Authority for imposing similar restrictions on gun ownership and possession.



U.S. Senators Introduce Bill Targeting “Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms” (Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, 3:30pm)

A group of United States Senators, including Angus King (IND-ME), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have introduced a new bill designed to ban modern sporting rifles. With a purported purpose of targeting “assault rifles” such as the AR-15, this bill, titled the “Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act”, actually targets semiautomatic firearms of all kinds and configurations, presumptively banning them as a class, and then allowing for exemptions for those firearms that the government deems fit for “civilian use.”

The bill, which includes the usual “large capacity” magazine ban, capping legal capacity of most types of ammunition feeding devices at 10 rounds, takes the usual “assault weapon” ban further, banning all gas-operated semi-automatic firearms, and then directing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to publish a list of whatever semiautomatic firearms are to remain legal for sale to and possession by the general public. The bill also proposes to give the government the codified ability to sue to have any firearms that remained legal by ATF exemption removed from ATF’s permissible list after the fact.

There is also an exception in the bill that allows ownership of “a handgun that . . . is a single or double action semi-automatic handgun that uses recoil to cycle the action of the handgun.” This exception clearly excludes all blowback- and gas-delayed-operated handguns, but a narrow interpretation of the meaning of “uses recoil to cycle the action” could lead to certain handguns being deemed within the scope of the proposed ban, including the popular Browning short recoil operating system that is used by essentially all modern handguns of 9mm or larger caliber.

The bill would also prohibit any modification to a permissible semiautomatic firearm that increased its “rate of fire”, including devices as bump stocks and binary triggers, but also possibly applying to any upgrades that make a firearm operate more smoothly or efficiently for competitive or disabled shooters.

There is a “grandfather” clause in the bill allowing people who already own firearms newly banned by the bill to keep them, but future transfer of such “grandfathered” firearms would be limited to “immediate” family members of the current owner and would require a federal firearm licensee to process the transfer as if it were a commercial sale. Magazines banned under the proposed legislation would also be “grandfathered,” but would not be transferable by their owners under any circumstance.

Critics of the proposed legislation are already arguing that the scope of the firearms that are to be banned is overbroad, vague and in violation of the current Supreme Court scope of allowable infringement on the 2nd Amendment. There has also been criticism aimed at the unprecedented authority the bill would give to ATF to determine unilaterally which firearms were sufficient to meet the bill’s vague definition of semiautomatic guns that are to remain “lawful for civilian use.”

The probability of successful passage of this bill is unclear at the present time, but we will continue to monitor and report on any developments. In the meantime, MCRC members are encouraged to exercise their rights as U.S. citizens and contact members of their Congressional delegation, whose contact information can be found via the yellow link above, and respectfully share their thoughts on this proposed legislation.



Federal Court Rules Federal Ban on Handgun for Adults under 21 Years Old Unconstitutional (Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, 2:45pm,)

A federal district court judge in West Virginia has ruled that a federal law prohibiting handgun sales persons over 18 but under 21 years old is “facially unconstitutional,” and granted a summary judgment in favor enjoined the defendants — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), ATF Director Steven Dettelbach and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland — from enforcing the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(b)(1) and (c)(1), which is where the federal age restriction established by the Gun Control Act of 1968 are codified, “against Plaintiffs and otherwise-qualified 18-to-20-year-olds.” In a 40-page decision (available at https://saf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/40.-brown-v-atf-opinion.pdf), District Chief Judge Thomas S. Kleeh from the Northern District of West Virginia wrote, “(b)ecause Plaintiffs’ conduct – the purchase of handguns – ‘fall[s] [within] the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command’ and the challenged statutes and regulations are not ‘consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation,’ the Court finds [the law] facially unconstitutional.” The ATF is expected to appeal the ruling.



Federal Court Round-Up (Monday, November 13, 2023, 1:00pm)

In the past few weeks there has been some activity on a number of Second Amendment-related cases in federal courts. While none of these cases currently has a direct relationship to any South Carolina laws or cases, they may have some level of impact on the exercise of gun rights in our state.

State Assault Weapons Ban

There recently have been contradictory federal court rulings on the constitutionality of so-called “Assault Weapons” bans, with different federal courts upholding the Illinois ban and finding the California ban unconstitutional. The California federal district court decision has been appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has already scheduled oral arguments for late January 2024. (Miller v. Bonta)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Illinois’ assault weapons ban last week, accepting arguments made in a number of lower court cases that were consolidated in the appeal it heard, that the ban constitutes a reasonable limit on the Second Amendment.

It is highly probably that both of these cases will eventually find their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pistol Brace Rule

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, recently found that the ATF exceeded its authority in issuing its “Pistol Brace” rule, which was therefore unconstitutional, and remanded the case back to the District Court for final disposition. Last week, the District Court issued its ruling and extended the ban on ATF enforcement of rule from just the parties to the preliminary injunction to all affected persons in the United States, effectively banning ATF from enforcing the rule nation-wide. It is unknown at this time whether ATF plans to appeal this ruling back up to the 5th Circuit (which previously ruled against them in this case), which is the only path has for ATF to appeal to the Supreme Court. (Britto v. ATF)

In the meantime, pending any such appeal, it is not necessarily clear what effect this ruling may have on any gun owner who registered their braced pistols as short-barrel rifles (SBRs), but the current legal consensus is that that anyone who registered their guns as SBRs with the ATF during the 120 day “grace” period must still treat their firearms as SBRs and comply with current ATF SBR rules, regardless of the end of the Pistol Brace rule, until there is a definitive federal ruling otherwise.



U.S. DOJ & ATF Announce Propose Rule to Close So-Called “Gun Show Loophole” (Thursday, August 31, 2023, 3:45pm)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) today announced a proposed regulation to expand the definition of firearms dealers who are required to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks for gun sales. The proposed rule would require sellers to obtain a federal license if they “devote time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms,” not just those who earn a “livelihood” from such sales.

ATF Director Steven Dettelbach claims the rule is aimed at “[a]n increasing number of individuals engaged in the business of selling firearms for profit have chosen not to register as federal firearms licensees, as required by law, [and instead] have sought to make money through the off-book, illicit sale of firearms.” However, the change in definition appears to also include individuals who are not in the business of selling firearms, but who occasionally make private sales at gun shows or through online gun brokerage websites. Accordingly, until the actual regulation is published in the federal Register for public comment, it is unclear how broad or vague the language of the rule will be, and exactly what kind of part-time or occasional sellers will have to register and conduct background check(s) for each gun sale.

The next step for this regulation will be publication in the Federal Register, with a 90 day public comment period before it is finalized. DOJ officials did not give a specific date as to when they anticipate it being published. Although it is highly likely that any resulting Final Rule will face legal challenges, it is unlikely that will occur until after the notice and finalization process is complete.



U.S. Supreme Court Issues Ruling Reinstating ATF Gun Parts Regulation (Monday, August 14, 2023, 3:30pm)

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order that effectively reinstated a regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”) restricting the transfer of firearms components that AFT deemed could be used to manufacture so-called “ghost guns.”

In a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joining the court’s three liberal members — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — to form a majority, the Court ordered that a July decision on this matter by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas be vacated. That District Court ruling had effectively created a nationwide block on the enforcement of the 2022 ATF rule, pending an appeal of a related District Court decision that ruled that the ATF had exceeded its authority in issuing the regulation.

The ATF regulation in question had “clarified” the definition of “firearm” under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 to include parts and kits that may be readily turned into a gun. It required serial numbers on such parts and that manufacturers and sellers of them be licensed. The regulation also required sellers to run background checks on purchasers of such parts prior to their sale.

Following Judge O’Connor’s decision, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, where a three-judge panel refused to stay key aspects of Judge O’Connor’s ruling. In response, DOJ appealed to the Supreme Court.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency matters arising from a group of states including Texas, issued a “show cause” notice in late July for interested parties to explain why the injunction against the ATF rule should or should not remain in force pending appeal by the ATF.

In response, the DOJ argued that the Supreme Court should stay O’Connor’s ruling while it appeals to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because allowing the District Court ruling to stand while waiting for the appeal to be resolved would enable an “irreversible flow of large numbers of untraceable ghost guns into our nation’s communities.”

The Supreme Court’s decision gave no reasons for the ruling, which is typical when the Justices act on emergency applications. The order is provisional, leaving the regulation in place only while a challenge moves forward in the U.S. Court of Appeals.



Biden Administration Confirms It is Withholding School Funding for Hunting and Archery Programs to Further Its Gun Control Policies (Tuesday, August 1, 2023, 2:00pm)

It is being reported that the Biden Administration has confirmed that it is utilizing its education policy to further its gun control agenda by withholding funds from elementary and secondary schools nationwide that have hunting or archery programs in their curriculum. The federal Department of Education has issued a statement that its funding decisions were based on interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which Congress passed, and President Biden signed last year, as a reaction to some highly publicized shootings.

The agency’s interpretation means funding for shooting sport activities earmarked under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 will be blocked across the country. A Department of Education spokesperson has stated that this prohibition, which went into effect on June 25, 2022, applies to all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs, including funds earmarked for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Representatives of hunting, shooting sports, and Second Amendment advocacy organizations are being vocal in their opposition to the administration’s decision, which may impact thousands of schools and millions of American students. The president of the National Archery in the Schools Program, a program that involves approximately 1.3 million students from nearly 9,000 schools across 49 states, has said that some of those schools have already canceled plans to include archery or hunting education courses in their curriculum due to the federal guidance. Likewise, the International Hunter Education Association, whose courses train and certify more than 500,000 students annually, says that its safety courses, which are a reason hunting related injury rates have declined for years, is concerned by the ramifications of this action by the Department of Education. Safari Club International, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and National Rifle Association also have criticized the Education Department announcement.

U.S. Congressman have also issued statements opposing withholding of the funds. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) has called the move by the Biden administration “shameful, but not at all surprising,” adding that the Biden administration “will take any opportunity to stomp on your constitutional rights — even down to teaching kids archery and hunting skills.”

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) took to social media, “tweeting” that “[t]he Biden administration is DEFUNDING school hunting and archery programs. Yes, you read that right — DEFUNDING them. Wisconsin students should not be pawns in Joe Biden’s misguided crusade against America’s sportsmen.”

Likewise, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said that “[e]njoying the outdoors is a wonderful activity and interest in hunting, fishing, camping, and other such activities should be encouraged and cultivated from a young age — withholding authorized funding is ridiculous.”



U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh In on District Court Ruling That Overturned ATF Rule Declaring Gun Parts to be Firearms (Friday, July 28, 2023, 5:00pm)

In the wake of rulings in late June & early July by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that invalidated a regulation issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”) which deemed gun parts that are sold for the purpose of building a firearm (i.e. “kit guns”) as themselves firearms and therefore subject to various federal statutes and ATF regulations as such, the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed that decision and has requested interested parties present the Supreme Court with arguments pertaining to the case. In an Order issued earlier today by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court stayed the District Court ruling until 5 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, August 4, 2023, and ordered that any filings in the matter be submitted on or before 5 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, August 2, 2023.

Several Second Amendment advocacy organizations, including the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), have indicated an intention to submit responses before the filing deadline in support of upholding the District Court opinion, in which the court determined that the ATF regulation in essence changed the definition of “firearm” and that only Congress has the authority to alter any of the terms defined in the controlling federal legislation.



Resolution to Enjoin ATF from Enforcing Pistol Brace Rule Passes in U.S. House of Representatives (Friday, June 16, 2023, 7:00pm)

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219-210 to approve a Joint Resolution (H.J.Res. 44) that would disallow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) from enforcing its recently issued rule that categorized pistols equipped with bracing devices as short barrel rifles subject to the registration & taxation requirements of the National Firearm Act (NFA). For the time being, this does not effectively fully nullify the ATF requirements — for that, Senate approval is still required. To this end, the Resolution has been officially sent to that chamber, where it was placed on the Senate’s Legislative Calendar for further action.



U.S. Congress Scheduled to Vote this Week on Resolution to Overturn ATF Pistol Brace Rule (Monday, June 12, 2023, 1:00pm)

The U.S. House is expected to hold a vote this week on House Joint Resolution 44, legislation that would overturn the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) pistol brace rule. H.J.Res.44, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), is a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that would invalidate ATF’s brace rule and block the agency from reissuing the same rule in the future.

This means that there is still time for MCRC members, if so inclined, to contact your Congressional Representatives and respectfully let them know your position on this issue and encourage them to vote accordingly.



U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Issue Temporary Stay of Illinois “Assault Weapon” and “High-Capacity Magazine” Bans (Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 9:00pm)

Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from gun rights groups to temporarily block laws in Illinois that ban the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles and so-called “high-capacity” magazines, meaning those prohibitions will remain in effect in Illinois for the time being.

The Court issued a one-sentence order that did not explain its reasoning and noted no dissents, which is common for cases on its emergency docket, where cases arrive when the Supreme Court is asked to render decisions about whether to temporarily allow or halt enforcement of laws while the underlying dispute plays out in lower federal courts.

A U.S. District Court in Illinois had earlier ruled in favor of the Illinois state ban and a similar city ordinance from Napierville, IL, in February 2023. Then, in April, the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit denied a request to temporarily block the laws while that District Court decision is appealed. The Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene means that the bans will remain in legal effect pending the resolution of the appeal by the 7th Circuit.  

This case, National Association for Gun Rights v. City of Naperville, will now continue in the appeals court and will likely eventually make its way back to the Supreme Court on the merits at some point in the future.



Gov. McMaster Extends SC Legislative Session, Pending Permitless Open/Concealed Carry Bill Still on the Agenda (Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 5:00pm)

The 2023 South Carolina General Assembly came to a close last week, but Governor McMaster has called the State Legislature back to session so they can discuss and address certain matters, primarily focusing on non-2nd Amendment-related abortion and drug trafficking (fentanyl) bills, but also pertaining to pending legislation regarding “felons in possession”, by which he apparently means S.109 and H.3594, the state Senate and House bills addressing permitless open & concealed carry, both of which reference and address the issue of felons in illegal possession of firearms.

Some “in-the-know” observers, including the NRA’s grass-roots coordinator for the part of the Southeast U.S. that includes South Carolina, have noted that the Governor’s actions seem directed mainly at the non-2nd Amendment issues, and, if the abortion- and drug-related legislation pass before S.109 or H.3594 receive floor votes, the extended 2023 legislative session might end without final passage of the permitless carry bill.  



SC Senate Judiciary Passes Bill to Allow Permitless Open & Concealed Carry (Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 3:00pm)

In an unexpected move, yesterday the Judiciary Committee of the South Carolina Senate held a vote on S.109, the Senate version of the “Constitutional Carry” bill which would allow open and concealed carry of firearms without a permit within the state. The Bill passed by a vote of 12-11. The version that was voted out of Committee contains the NRA-backed language which would still retain the existing carry permit system, meaning that it would not affect any such currently valid permits that were issued under the existing system, which would allow for reciprocity in other states that require non-citizens of those states to hold a valid concealed carry permit in their home state in order to carry in their state.

The Bill has now been sent to the Senate floor for further consideration and an eventual vote by the entire Senate. If passed by the full Senate, the next step would be a reconciliation of the House and Senate versions of the bills as passed, and then a final vote in both chambers on the reconciled language.



North Carolina Repeal of Handgun Permitting System Becomes Law (Thursday, March 30, 2023, 12:00pm)

The previously reported North Carolina legislation (see, Feb. 27, 2023, 1:00pm entry on this page) that repealed that state’s system requiring local sheriffs to issue a permit for every commercial handgun purchase has become law.

The state legislature voted last month to enact the bill, which gets rid of North Carolina’s longstanding permit system requiring sheriffs to perform character evaluations and criminal history checks of pistol applicants, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill Friday, claiming it would make it easier for “domestic abusers and other dangerous people” to access handguns and make it harder for law enforcement to stop those people from committing violent crimes. Following this action, the state’s GOP-led legislature voted yesterday (Wed., Mar. 29) to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of the measure.

North Carolina’s permit repeal takes effect immediately.



Credit Card Companies Abandon Plan to Track Firearm/Ammunition Purchases (Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023, 2:00pm)

It was reported last week that the credit card companies that had announced plans to implement a merchant category code (MCC) specific to gun and ammunition stores are abandoning those plans. Opponents to the plan had been very vocal in arguing that such a system would essentially create a backdoor tracking registry of people purchasing firearms, ammunition, and related items, and had generated strong political action in opposition to the announced plans of the credit card companies, which included the issuance of a group letter by twenty-four (24) state attorneys general threatening legal action if the plan were instituted, and several bills introduced in state legislatures that would ban such purchase tracking.

In response to these legal moves, American Express (Amex), Visa, MasterCard, and Discover have all put on hold their plans to create and assign an MMC specifically for vendors of firearms and ammunition. Both Visa and MasterCard made formal announcements that they were “pausing” implementation of the new code, specifically citing the legal pushback as the reason for abandoning their plans, while Discover made a relatively “low key” announcement that the new proposed merchant code (MCC 5723) has been pulled from its upcoming software update for merchant processing systems.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who led the group of state attorneys general that submitted the aforementioned letter to Visa and MasterCard, said in a statement that “Visa and MasterCard came to the correct conclusion. However, they shouldn’t just ‘pause’ their implementation of this plan — they should end it definitively.”



President Biden Issues Executive Order in Furtherance of Gun Control Goals (Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2023, 7:00pm)

Earlier today, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order directing various executive agencies to undertake actions to further his administration’s gun control objectives. Stating that its goal was to curb gun violence, the Executive Order includes provisions aimed at increasing the number of background checks to buy guns, promoting more secure firearms storage and ensuring that U.S. law enforcement agencies are “getting the most out of” the recently-enacted gun control law known as the Safer Communities Act.

Specifically, the Executive Order directs the Attorney General to increase background checks by cracking down on gun sellers who don’t perform them when required and to release more information about federally licensed firearms dealers who violate existing laws, with the goal of “moving us as close as we can to universal background checks without new legislation,” as Pres. Biden publicly stated in his press conference. The Order also directs federal agencies to improve public awareness and promote the use of “red-flag” laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, which are designed to expedite the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms from citizens by circumventing the sometimes time-consuming method of full due process within the existing court system. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice Department sent out more than $200 million to help states and the District of Columbia administer red-flag laws and other crisis-intervention programs.

The Order also directs the Pentagon to “develop and implement principles to further firearm and public safety practices through the Department of Defense’s acquisition of firearms” and instructs the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market to minors and use military images to market to the general public.

President Biden’s Order also mandates better reporting of ballistics data from federal law enforcement for a clearinghouse that would allow federal, state and local law enforcement to match shell casings to guns. Currently, local and state law enforcement agencies are not required to report such ballistics data, and it is questionable what effect a federal executive order will have on forcing state and local to comply with such a mandate.

The administration claims that this unilateral action by the President does not change U.S. government policy, but rather directs federal agencies to ensure compliance with existing laws and procedures — a typical feature of Executive Orders issued by Presidents when they confront the limits of their own power to act without cooperation from Congress.  In his statement announcing issuance of the Executive Order, Pres. Biden seems to indicate that he realizes the limitations of this action, by noting the following: “Let’s be clear: None of this absolves Congress from the responsibility of acting, to pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturer immunity from liability. And I’m determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

So far, no legal challenges have been announced to this action by the Executive Branch, but it is anticipated that such challenges will arise as the various federal agencies start to enact regulations under the directives set forth in the Order.



NC House Approves Bill to Repeal Permitting Requirement for Pistol Purchases (Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, 1:00pm)

Even though it has little direct legal significance in the state of South Carolina, it is worth noting that the North Caroline House recently struck a significant victory for Second Amendment rights advocates by approving a bill to repeal the state’s pistol purchase permit requirement. The measure now heads to the N.C. Senate for reconciliation with a similar measure that was previously passed as part of a broader bill package.

The Senate version of the bill repeals the permitting system, which currently requires approval from one of the state’s 100 county sheriffs before a citizen can purchase a pistol, as well as including measures to allow concealed carry of firearms at religious services that share locations with private or charter schools, and to launch a two-year firearm safe storage awareness initiative.

Even if both the N.C. House and Senate versions of the bills are reconciled and signed into law, pistol purchases within the state would still be require approval through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI.

Supporters of the change in state law have cited complaints about the slow pace of permit approvals and support for repeal from the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association. At present, North Carolina is the only southern state that still requires its citizens obtain a permit to purchase a pistol.



South Carolina House of Representatives Passes Bill to Allow Permitless Open & Concealed Carry (Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, 10:30am)

The Republican-controlled South Carolina House of Representatives yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023) voted overwhelmingly to allow lawful firearm owners to partake in open or concealed carry of handguns without a state permit.

The bill, known as H.3594, titled the Constitutional Carry / Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023, with the stated intended purpose of ensuring that South Carolina citizens who can lawfully own a firearm will have the right to carry it open or concealed, except with limited restrictions, passed in the S.C. House by a vote of 90-30. It closely resembles laws in 25 other states that allow some form of constitutional carry.

The bill, as passed, still restricts people from bringing guns into detention centers, courthouses, polling places, government offices, school athletic events, schools, religious sanctuaries and hospitals or doctor’s offices, among other locations. On-duty law enforcement, Armed Forces, National Guard, state militia and members of the judiciary are exempt from those restrictions. After some discussion, lawmakers added public defenders and county clerks of court to this list, but expressly barred them from carrying concealed weapons into correctional facilities.

The measure also appears to effectively lower the age at which South Carolinians can carry a concealed gun, by allowing permitless open or concealed carry by anyone who can legally possess the carried firearm. Current state law allows anyone 18 or older to purchase a firearm, including handguns, but under the current state program concealed weapons permits are only available to people older than 21.

The bill also increases penalties for felons in illegal possession of a firearm.

The fate of this pending law now falls to the Senate, where a similar proposal was rejected two years ago, and where it doesn’t appear that any comparative companion bill to H.3594 has yet to have been introduced.



ATF Pistol Brace Rule Officially Published, Immediately Met with Lawsuits and Congressional Opposition (Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, 1:00pm)

As expected, the Final Rule issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) on pistol bracing devices was published in the Federal Register last week, on Jan. 31, 2023, making it an officially promulgated regulation, and starting the tolling of the 120 day “grace period” for current owners of rifle-caliber pistols equipped with braces to either remove the braces, destroy the firearm, or register their now-designated “short barreled rifles” (SBRs) as firearms subject to the National Firearm Act (NFA) without having to pay the NFA-required tax stamp.

As also anticipated, this action has spawned at least two lawsuits challenging the ATF’s action. The Firearm Policy Coalition (FPC) has filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of two Texas gun owners, William Mock and Christopher Lewis, who are braced pistol owners. This lawsuit, Mock v. Garland, argues that the ATF and Department of Justice are violating both the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution.

In announcing the lawsuit, Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC’s Senior Attorney for Constitutional Litigation, took issue with the enforcement agency issuing a regulation that effectively creates a new law — a job more appropriate for the legislative branch. “Federal agencies do not have the power to write new laws, and yet the ATF continues to attempt to expand its authority using the federal rulemaking process. This ‘rule’ is, in effect, a federal law that will transform millions of peaceable people into felons overnight simply for owning a firearm that has [previously] been lawful to own.”

A second federal suit has been filed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in the Eastern District of Texas. This lawsuit, Watterson v. ATF, also argues that the Department of Justice cannot be allowed to rewrite federal statutes by bureaucratic dictate and decide to turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals guilty of a felony, noting that the Constitution gives Congress — not executive agencies — the legislative power to amend laws.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS) and John Kennedy (R-LA) have cosponsored a Congressional Review Act resolution to prevent the ATF’s new Pistol Brace rule from taking effect. They have also introduced the Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act, which will repeal some of the more archaic elements of the National Firearms Act, including its regulation of short-barreled rifles.

“Finalization of this pistol brace rule represents the worst fears of gun owners across the country,” said Marshall in a statement announcing these 2 legislative actions. “The SHORT Act will protect Americans from the anti-2nd Amendment gun registry that the ATF is abusing the National Firearms Act to create. This Congress, I challenge my colleagues in both chambers to make protecting Americans’ 2nd Amendment Rights a priority and sign onto this legislation that will stop the ATF’s pistol brace rule in its tracks.”



UPDATE: Announcement on Effective Date for ATF “Final Rule” on Pistol Braces (Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, 4:00pm)

During a public appearance yesterday, Jan. 26, 2023, Erik Longnecker, Deputy Chief of the Public Affairs Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), announced that the planned publication date in the Federal Register for the ATF’s “Final Rule” on pistol braces (i.e. the date from which the 120 day grace period will start to run) is currently set for Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

For more information about the rule and the grace period, please see the Wed., Jan. 18, 2023 3:00pm entry, below.



U.S. Senate Democrats Introduce “Assault Weapon” Ban and Age Restriction Legislation (Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, 3:00pm)

On Monday, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced two separate gun control bills, one designed to outlaw so-called “assault weapons” and another to raise the minimum age to purchase such so-called “assault weapons” from 18 to 21 years old.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 [click link to view the bill] would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of “military-style” “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines and other “high-capacity” ammunition feeding devices.

Specifically, this bill, if enacted into law, would:

  • Ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation any of the 205 “military-style” “assault weapons” that are listed by name.
  • Ban any “assault weapon” with the capacity to utilize a magazine that is not a fixed ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock.
  • Ban magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
  • Require a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an “assault weapon” covered by the bill, including private sales or transfers.
  • Require that grandfathered “assault weapons” are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
  • Prohibit the transfer of “high-capacity” ammunition magazines.
  • Ban bump-fire stocks and other devices that are deemed to increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons.

The bill also includes two notable exemptions to these bans:

  • A “grandfather” clause that exempts all weapons and magazines lawfully possessed at the date of enactment; and
  • A list of over 2,200 guns that, because they have been deemed useful for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes, are not included in the ban.

The Age 21 Act [click link to view bill] would raise the minimum age to purchase “assault weapons” from 18 to 21, the same requirement that currently exists in law for handguns.

Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) has announced that he plans to introduce a companion version of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 in the House of Representatives.



Illinois State Court Issues TRO Stopping Enforcement of New Gun Ban (Saturday, January 21, 2023, 12:00pm)

An Illinois judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a newly enacted ban on certain semiautomatic rifles & pistols and so-called “high-capacity” magazines. Effingham County Judge Joshua Morrison issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) after former Republican candidate for Attorney General Tom DeVore sued to block the law. DeVore said in a press release he’s representing citizens from 87 Illinois counties who are challenging the law, which he called, “an outright attack on the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners across the state.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D), who supported the legislation and signed it into law, said he was not surprised by the decision and accused the plaintiffs of advancing “ideology over public safety” in seeking to have the law struck down. “I remain confident that the courts will uphold the constitutionality of Illinois’ law, which aligns with the eight other states with similar laws and was written in collaboration with lawmakers, advocates, and legal experts,” Pritzker said.

In an 11-page ruling, Judge Morrison affirmed that the plaintiffs have a constitutional right to bear arms that is protected by both the Illinois state Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. “Plaintiffs are being immediately and irreparably harmed each day in which their fundamental right to bear arms is being denied,” Morrison wrote.

The judge cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision of New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen from last year that struck down New York state’s concealed carry law. This 6-3 ruling found that the plain text of the Second Amendment protected the right of the plaintiffs to carry firearms for self-defense.

Morrison also wrote that “[d]ue to the speed with which this bill was passed, the effect to protected classes could not have been considered, nor could the Legislature have studied if this was the least restrictive way to meet their goal.” Gov. Pritzker signed the law on Jan. 10 in response to the mass shooting that killed seven and injured 30 at the Highland Park July Fourth parade. The law bans dozens of specific types of handguns and rifles, guns that fire certain .50-caliber cartridges, and attachments, and also limits detachable magazines to 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for pistols.

The governor defended the gun control law, called the Protect Illinois Communities Act, saying it “takes weapons of war and mass destruction off the street while allowing law-abiding gun owners to retain their collections,” and added that he “look[s] forward to the next steps in this case and receiving the decision this case merits.”

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), a gun rights group that has filed a separate challenge to the gun control law in federal court, applauded Morrison’s ruling. “This is a clear indication from the court that the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker rammed this law through improperly. The ISRA firmly believes the law is an infringement on all law-abiding residents’ 2nd Amendment rights,” the group said. This case is still pending in the federal courts.



US Department of Justice Announces Submission of “Final Rule” on Pistol Stabilizing Braces to the Federal Register for Publication (Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, 3:00pm)

On Friday, January 13, 2023, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on its website that it has submitted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) “Final Rule” regulating the use of stabilizing braces on pistols to the Federal Register.  This is the next to last step for making the regulation binding federal law, and the rule only becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register which will include an effective date.

In a Press Release posted to its website, DOJ announced that it had submitted the Final Rule, which effectively re-classifies pistols with stabilizing braces that have barrels of less than 16 inches as short-barreled rifles (SBRs), with the requisite taxation and registration requirements applicable to SBRs under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA).

The “Final Rule” clarifies that all former guidance or rulings on stabilizing braces are void, and then amends the existing definition of “rifle” by adding language that now includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder within the definition of rifle, provided that certain other factors indicate that the weapon is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.

These “other factors” include: (1) whether the weapon has a weight or length consistent with the weight or length of similarly designed rifles; (2) whether the weapon has a length of pull consistent with similarly designed rifles; (3) whether the weapon is equipped with sights or a scope with eye relief that require the weapon to be fired from the shoulder in order to be used as designed; (4) whether the surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder is created by a buffer tube, receiver extension, or any other accessory, component, or other rearward attachment that is necessary for the cycle of operations; (5) the manufacturer’s direct and indirect marketing and promotional materials indicating the intended use of the weapon; & (6) information demonstrating the likely use of the weapon in the general community.

The rule allows for a 120-day period from the effective date (which will be stated in the Federal Register publication) for manufacturers, dealers, and individuals to register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule. Other options including removing the stabilizing brace to return the firearm to a pistol or surrendering covered short-barreled rifles to ATF. Nothing in this rule specifically bans ownership of stabilizing braces or the use of stabilizing braces on pistols — it just redefines pistols fitted with such braces as SBRs and makes them subject to the applicable registration and taxation requirements under the NFA and prior regulations promulgated pursuant to that law.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has already announced that it intends to take legal action against the rule once it has been published and becomes law. In its own announcement relating to these developments, the NRA seems to indicate that its legal challenge may focus on the vagueness of the criteria for making determinations of applicability of the new rule, and on the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidation of the ATF bump stock rule on the grounds of regulatory overreach (i.e. attempting to use regulations to change statutory definitions).

We will continue to monitor this situation and will inform MCRC members once the Final Rule has been officially published, and of all developments, including legal challenges, that may follow.



Federal Court of Appeals Issues Ruling Overturning ATF Bump-Stock Ban (Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, 12:00pm)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the area that includes the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, in a rare en banc decision (meaning it was heard and decided by all the judges of the Circuit rather than the usual 3-judge panel), has ruled in a 13-3 vote that the 2018 regulation outlawing bump-stocks is a violation of federal law. While this may appear to be a legal triumph worthy of celebration by Second Amendment advocates, this victory should be viewed with caution.

First, it must be noted that the Court made no ruling on what role the Second Amendment has on the ATF’s bump-stock ban or on its authority to regulate firearms. The reasoning of the Court was not based on Constitutional grounds, but rather on federal administrative law, with the Court finding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) erred in classifying semi-automatic weapons modified with bump-stocks as “machine guns”, since such modified weapons would not fall within the scope of the existing legal definition of a “machine gun.”

Specifically, the Court opinion stated: “A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machine gun’ as set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

This language is clear in its implication that, in the opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court, the Gun Control Act and the National Firearm Act still present a legal framework within which the ATF may continue to regulate firearm ownership and use.

Second, as noted above, the limited jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit Court means that this ruling only applies to the states within its geographic authority (TX, LA & MS). For all intents and purposes, the ATF regulation banning bump-stocks is still in effect in the 47 other states and DC, and will remain so until overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, or otherwise legally nullified nation-wide.

Third, the legal scope of the ruling means that the ATF is still free to attempt to promulgate a replacement regulation banning bump-stocks, provided it can create legally supportable reasoning that complies with U.S. federal administrative law. Or Congress could even weigh in on the matter and make an attempt to include a bump-stock ban in a new round of “gun control” legislation. The Fifth Circuit’s ruling does not preclude either of these scenarios.

Accordingly, while this court decision is reason for optimism for gun rights advocates, it should be viewed with caution for the time being, pending future legal activity on this issue.



Constitutional Carry” Bill Introduced and Referred to SC House Judiciary Committee (Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 1:00pm)

New legislation, entitled “The South Carolina Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023” (H 3594), which would codify the right of law-abiding adults to carry a firearm for self-defense without having to first pay fees or obtain government permission, has been formally introduced in the South Carolina House and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The bill, which was written by Representative Bobby Cox (R- District 21 [Greenville]) and co-sponsored by 44 other representatives, was pre-filed on December 22, 2022, and cleared the initial steps in the legislative process (introduction, first reading & referral to Committee) on January 10, 2023.

The bill, if enacted, would institute “Constitutional Carry” by abolishing the current state concealed carry licensing requirements, revising the rules relating to allowable concealed carry in establishments serving alcohol, schools, churches and state parks, and amending the rules for notification and signage for locations that seek to prohibit concealed carry. It also aims to modify the existing prohibition on firearm possession by persons convicted of violent crimes by revising the list of crimes to which this prohibition would apply.

No hearings have been set for H 3594, but we will continue to monitor this legislation and provide updates, including a more detailed analysis of its provisions, as the bill moves further in the legislative process and its language starts to be finalized.



Local State Representative Pre-files Bill to Ban Certain Semiautomatic Weapons (Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, 1:30pm)

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston County) has pre-filed a bill that seeks to ban buying, selling and owning certain semiautomatic weapons across the state of South Carolina. This marks the fourth time Gilliard has submitted the bill to the statehouse. Despite it never passing through subcommittee the first three times, Gilliard says he’s optimistic he will receive additional bipartisan support to potentially get this bill to a vote and that he is willing to compromise with fellow lawmakers to move the bill forward.

Noting that the measure’s goal is to help cut down on the number of mass shootings, Gilliard said these weapons should only be in the hands of the military, not private citizens, and the bill would ban any person from owning them if it is passed.

The bill identifies assault weapons as the following:

  • A semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine of 21 or more rounds.
  • All semiautomatic shotguns with a folding stock or more than a six-round magazine.
  • Any firearm modified to operate as an assault weapon.

Besides banning the buying and selling of such weapons, the bill also includes a provision that would grant current owners of such weapons a “grace period” to turn in their guns before they would face fines and possible jail time. The restrictions in the bill would be in addition to current state law which already forbids anyone from possessing a sawed-off weapon, machine gun or military firearm.

The first session of the new state legislation begins on Jan. 10, but at the present, no hearings or other legislative activity are scheduled for this bill.



SC State Lawmaker Requests Investigation of Hampton County Gun Range (December 27, 2022, 11:00am)

After complaints by local residents claiming stray rounds from the Maltese Arms Shooting Club & Range are damaging property in their neighborhood, SC State Senator Margie Bright Matthews (D – Distr. 45) has sent a letter to Hampton County Sheriff Thomas Smalls and Yemassee Police Chief Gregory Alexander, questioning why the agencies have done nothing to properly address residents’ concerns, and requesting a joint investigation of the situation by both law enforcement organizations.

The 50 page letter references a lawsuit filed by neighboring residents of the gun club, claiming that stray bullets are “constantly” damaging nearby residents’ property and putting the residents’ lives at risk. “It is very clear that this is a threat to the community and a safety issue that could potentially result in loss of a life,” Sen. Matthews claims in the letter. “I have many concerns regarding how this business was able to set itself up while it is located so closely to homes and a business in the area.”

Both the Yemassee Police Department and the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office have previously addressed residents’ concerns by noting that, from a jurisdictional standpoint, they can’t do anything because the gun range is inside Yemassee town limits, while the properties where the bullets allegedly land is outside of town limits in an unincorporated portion of Hampton County. Sen. Matthews, a Democrat whose District represents portions of Allendale, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties, questions these jurisdictional issues regarding the complaints of stray bullets, restating the concerns listed in the residents’ lawsuit, including the fact that the residential area was occupied for decades before the range was opened in 2017.

Further complicating matters is that it appears that the town of Yemassee moved to annex the shooting range property into its town limits in 2018, according to Sen. Matthews’ letter. This annexation occurred after residents laid out their concerns, saying they feared for their lives and wanted the range shut down, Sen. Matthews claims.

In a statement that correlates directly with the lawsuit documentation, Sen. Matthews’ letter also claims that, during the approval and construction process of the range in 2017, authorities did not follow a Hampton County land use ordinance in force at the time regarding land in the county’s General Development District, within which the gun range is alleged to have been located prior to the annexation, that prohibited the land from being used as a “Commercial or Club Outdoor Pistol, Rifle or Skeet Range”.

In addition to local agencies, Sen. Matthews sent copies of the letter to Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Robert Boyles with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Matthew Gates with the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, Yemassee Mayor Colin Moore, and Hampton County Council Chairman Charles Phillips.

The Hampton County Sheriff’s Office and Yemassee Police Department have not yet responded to requests for comment, but the Maltese Arms Shooting Club & Range has issued a statement noting safety measures undertaken by the Club, and welcoming Sen. Matthews to personally tour the facility.



Oregon State Supreme Court Delays Implementation of “High-Capacity” Magazine Ban (Monday, December 12, 2022, 10:30am)

Amidst reports that many local sheriffs will not enforce the state’s recent voter-approved gun law banning the sale and transfer of “high-capacity” magazines that was set to take effect last week, the Oregon State Supreme Court has affirmed a temporary restraining order blocking the law from taking effect.

Oregon State Ballot Measure 114, which included the magazine ban and would establish state-level review, approval & licensing requirements for firearms purchases, was set to become law at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, but the Oregon Supreme Court denied a state Department of Justice petition asking the court to throw out a lower court’s temporary restraining order, issued earlier in the week, that delayed the law’s implementation to allow time for a hearing on the matter. That hearing is scheduled to occur next week.

Oregon State Justice Department lawyers had filed a petition asking the Oregon Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling and vacate the decision. In response, lawyers for the gun rights group Gun Owners of America and the other plaintiffs said these new provisions present “several novel legal questions under Oregon law, the legality of which should be determined through the usual procedures including the development of a full and complete record in circuit court, an appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals and, if this Court agrees to hear the case, a decision by this [Supreme] Court.”

The order from the state Supreme Court allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand is the culmination of a flurry of legal activity in the days leading up to the law’s Dec. 8 implementation date. Just hours before the state Supreme Court order was issued, a federal judge had denied a request for a temporary restraining order that also would have blocked the law. The federal judge eventually applied that ruling to all four federal lawsuits challenging the new restrictions.

These developments, including the apparent disagreement between the State and Federal Courts in Oregon on this issue, would appear to indicate that this issue will be subject to further court action in the near future.



House Committee Advances Legislation to Create List to Control Gun Purchasing Rights (Monday, December 12, 2022, 10:00am)

Late last week, the House Judiciary Committee, in a party-line vote, approved legislation that would establish a federally controlled list of people who voluntarily agree to be blocked from purchasing firearms. The bill, proposed by Reps. Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.), and John Curtis, (R-Utah), would let anyone who fears they might take their own life with a gun to enroll themselves on a federal list of people who would then be blocked from buying a firearm.

The legislation requires the Attorney General to establish a list of people who agree to be blocked from buying a gun, which would be known as the “voluntary purchase delay database.” The bill also requires the AG to establish a process allowing people to have their names removed from the database – those requests must be fulfilled within 21 days and must be accompanied by a declaration from a mental health professional who says the requester poses no risk of self-harm.

But Republicans warned it would likely be very difficult to come off the list once someone is on it. “We know that’s going to be tough,” Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said. “You can be assured that getting your name removed from the database will be as difficult as possible and will be a deterrent for anyone to put their name on the list to begin with.”

The Judiciary Committee’s approval of the bill leaves it in an uncertain state. The bill still needs to pass a vote by the entire House and be approved by the Senate, and it’s not clear that there is enough time for the House to clear the next hurdle before the end of the year and the establishment of a new Republican-controlled House in January.



Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case About ATF Bump Stock Ban (Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, 1:00pm)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday once again declined to hear a challenge to the federal ban on “bump stock” devices that modify semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly. The ban, implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, went into effect in 2019 after the Supreme Court declined to block it. The court’s refusal to review the case, which comes after the Justices declined to take up similar efforts to overturn the bump stock prohibition last month and in 2020, leaves intact a Trump-era measure enacted in 2017.

In its challenge to the bump stock ban, the Petitioners, which included gun rights advocates who had purchased bump stocks prior to the ATF ban, did not directly argue that the ban violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Rather, they argued that the government did not have authority to ban bump stocks under the National Firearms Act, a law enacted in 1934 to regulate machine guns and amended in 1968 by the Gun Control Act. Specifically, the Petitioners argued that the ATF erred when it concluded that bump stocks meet the definition of accessories “for use in converting a weapon” into a machine gun, and that the ATF has distorted the legal definition of machine gun beyond that recognized under the NFA. The Petitioners also argued that the ban, which did not include a “grandfather” protection allowing owners of devices purchased prior to the regulation to keep their property, amounted to an uncompensated government taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that prior lower court rulings from the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the ban, will remain in force.



Federal Court Stops New York from Enforcing Recently Enacted Concealed Carry Law (Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 9:00pm)

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction regarding New York’s recent concealed carry law, which was enacted in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that most of the provisions of the state’s previous concealed carry law were unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled to halt enforcement on most parts of New York’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act”, saying that several elements of the law superseded New York officials’ authority, including measures that required people applying for a gun license to submit proof of “good moral character” and to provide a list of social media accounts and family contact information.

Additionally, the ruling invalidates carry restrictions in certain places that were included in the law’s list of “sensitive locations”, such as Times Square, saying that the state’s list of gun-free zones was overly broad, but did allow gun bans to remain in places such as polling locations and schools.

The state had already appealed Suddaby’s previous decision to issue a temporary restraining order against the law that followed many of the same conclusions as his preliminary injunction.

A separate federal judge has already blocked the law’s church-carry prohibition in the Western District of New York after a pair of religious leaders sued, saying they wanted to “exercise their fundamental individual right to bear arms” on church property in the event of a dangerous situation that arises. Meanwhile, a group of armed Jewish worshipers is currently challenging the church-carry provision in the Southern District.



Members of U.S. Congress and State Attorneys General Voice Opposition to Credit Card Tracking of Firearm Purchases (Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 12:00am)

In the wake of a proposal by credit card companies such as Visa, American Express and MasterCard, and major banks issuing such credit cards, to track gun purchases via the establishment of a Merchant Category Code (MCC) to categorize firearm sales, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, has sent a letter to the CEO of Visa, signed by 100 Republican members of U.S. House of Representatives, setting forth the lawmakers’ concerns and specifically seeking answers to address those concerns.

Stefanik and fellow House Republicans argue the move has violated the Second Amendment and that prior efforts to authorize firearm-specific codes for gun purchases have failed. They also questioned how “suspicious” sales would be labeled. “This is a transparent attempt to chill the exercise of constitutionally protected rights and to circumvent existing legal restrictions on the creation of firearm registries by the government,” the letter reads. A copy of the letter can be found here: https://stefanik.house.gov/_cache/files/3/2/327afb2a-664b-41dc-ba6c-ce0f93af68ad/B339C19813330E1FBB3AD3B51FA773F2.rep.-stefanik-letter-to-visa.pdf

In addition, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) sent his own letter to the CEOs of Visa, MasterCard & American Express suggesting the decision to categorize the sales would allow banks to restrict purchases and could lead to an erosion of Second Amendment rights. “This is not the solution. We demand you to reverse your decision to adopt any new firearms tracking code and prioritize the privacy of law-abiding gun,” Babin wrote. The lawmaker also said law-abiding gun owners who purchase firearms for hunting and competition shooting would be unfairly impacted by the decision. Rep. Babin’s letter can be read here: https://twitter.com/repbrianbabin/status/1571999766690537476

In addition, two United States Senators have spoken out against the proposal.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has also written a letter to the heads of Visa, Mastercard and American Express, saying “this new system is ripe for abuse” and that categorizing firearm sales would impact minority groups. Hawley, in his opposition to the move by the companies, mentioned how conservatives were blocked from donating on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” truckers earlier this year. “Americans have had enough of massive companies using their market power to drive ordinary people out of the public square,” Hawley wrote. “These practices must end.” Sen. Hawley’s letter can be read here: https://twitter.com/HawleyMO/status/1569699373784891392

Also, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) has sent a letter, co-signed by twelve (12) other GOP Senators, raising questions about the tracking of gun sales. Marshall and his colleagues argued the International Organization for Standardization is a voluntary organization and that the companies’ hand was not “being forced” to categorize gun sales. The senators also warned the MCC classification would create a “backdoor gun control law.” “It is clear that these changes are being pushed for much more nefarious reasons and is likely only step one with calls for declining to process gun sales altogether coming in the near future,” the letter reads. “You have become antigun activists yourselves, wittingly or no.” To read this letter, please click on the following text link: https://www.marshall.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/V-M-Amex-Letter-on-Gun-Merchant-Code.pdf

At the state level, 24 states, including South Carolina, have, through their respective Attorneys General, joined in submitting a letter demanding banks and credit card companies stop tracking, or monitoring, firearms purchased using credit cards. The coalition of Attorneys General alerted the CEOs of American Express, MasterCard, and Visa that the recent adoption of the Merchant Category Code for the processing of firearms purchases from gun stores is “potentially a violation of consumer protection and antitrust laws.”

In the letter, the Attorneys General stated that the monitoring and tracking of firearms purchases creates a “list of gun buyers” and creates the obvious risk that law-abiding consumers’ information will be obtained and misused by those who oppose Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights. “Why would banks and credit card companies need a separate code to process gun purchases, if not to possibly track and monitor people who buy them?” S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson asked in a press release.

The following states joined in the coalition submitting the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming, and West Virginia. To read the letter, click the following link: https://www.scag.gov/media/hbhpl2pf/second-amendment-iso-merchant-code-multistate-letter-final-2.pdf



Legislative Update for August 2022 (Sunday, September 11, 2022)

There has been nothing to report for the month of August, since neither the federal nor state legislatures were in session this month, and there has been no legislative activity.

It is not anticipated that much, if any, further shooting sports and/or firearm-related legislative activity will occur at the federal level between now and November, since it is expected that members of Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, will be spending the upcoming months concentrating on campaigning for the mid-term elections. We will continue to monitor, and promptly inform the membership of any news.



BREAKING NEWS: U.S. House of Representatives Passes “Assault Weapons” Ban Legislation (Sunday, July 31, 2022, 10:00am)

On Friday, The U.S. House of Representatives, in a vote of 217-213, passed a bill, H.R. 1808, titled “The Assault Weapons Ban of 2022”, that would ban the import, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of a long list of currently legal semi-automatic weapons, including “AK types”, “AR types” and other so-called “assault weapons”, and of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” after the date of enactment of the bill into law. Weapons and magazines owned prior to enactment would be grandfathered, but the bill would require all transfers of existing “assault weapons”, including private sales of grandfathered weapons, be subject to a background check. Two Republicans, Chris Jacobs (NY) & Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), voted in favor of the law, and five Democrats voted against it.

The legislation now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it is not expected to pass due to the high hurdle of requiring 10 Republican votes in the evenly split 50-50 Republican/Democrat chamber to avoid a filibuster.

The actual text of the bill, as passed, including a list of weapons specifically being outlawed, can be found here: Text – H.R.1808 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress (click on link)



BREAKING NEWS: South Carolina Joins Coalition of States in Opposing Biden Administration Gun Regulations (Thursday, July 28, 2022, 1:30pm)

South Carolina has joined a 17-state coalition challenging the Biden administration’s proposed gun control laws. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that the state has joined a group of attorneys general from 17 states in filing a complaint dated July 27 against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Acting Director of ATF over proposed rules that would violate the Second Amendment. The coalition joined Morehouse Enterprises, Gun Owners of America, and the Gun Owners Foundation to fight the Biden administration over the ATF’s rulemaking that would regulate firearm parts manufacturers.

“The Second Amendment cannot be tampered with by this administration. If it had its way, it would erase the Second Amendment,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said. The complaint alleges that ATF’s rulemaking takes steps toward the illegal creation of a national firearms registry by requiring firearms retailers to keep all sales records beyond their current 20-year retention requirement and eventually turn them over to the ATF instead of responsibly destroying them.

Joining the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

You can read the complaint here: complaint-with-states-7-27-to-file.pdf (scag.gov)



BREAKING NEWS: House Judiciary Committee Advances “Assault Weapons” Ban Legislation (Thursday, July 21, 2022, 12:30pm)

Late last night, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation, H.R. 1808, titled the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2022”, that would ban the sale of currently legal, commonly owned sporting rifles, shotguns, handguns, and standard capacity magazines. In addition, the committee also approved legislation, H.R. 2814, titled the “Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act”, that would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and release sensitive law enforcement data relating to crimes involving firearms to the public.

Both bills now advance to the full House of Representatives for a vote, which could occur as early as next week.

Members of the Mid-Carolina Rifle Club who have an opinion on this matter are encouraged to exercise their rights as citizens and contact their Representatives and Senators to politely and respectfully inform them of their position on this legislation.



REGULATORY NEWS: SCPRT Policy Regarding Concealed Weapons in SC State Parks (Friday, July 15, 2022, 2:00pm)

It was brought to our attention earlier this week that the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT), which operates and maintains the S.C. state park system, has adopted a policy prohibiting concealed carry within South Carolina state parks, and has posted notices regarding this policy on their website, and, according to the reported information, within some parks themselves.

While it appears that such a policy would be contrary to the explicit wording of the S.C. State Statutes, which, while prohibiting carrying weapons in state parks, specifically exempts persons carrying a concealable weapon and its ammunition pursuant to the S.C. concealed weapon carry laws, the SCPRT is of the opinion that this exemption is “not absolute” and that SCPRT has the right to regulate concealed carry within its parks.

In an e-mail from the SCPRT, their Director of Corporate Communications shared SCPRT’s legal arguments supporting their position. In summary, SCPRT is arguing that the buildings in SC parks are state public buildings in which concealed carry is prohibited, and that it would be logically inconsistent to allow concealed carry in other areas of the parks while it is prohibited in the park buildings. SCPRT also argues that, since educational programs are conducted in state parks, the parks are “campuses” similar to schools, colleges & universities, in which concealed carry is prohibited by law.

Furthermore, SCPRT notes that certain S.C. state parks (specifically 6 of the 47 parks) are located on land leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and S.C. law states that concealed carry permits don’t authorize carrying weapons in locations where it is prohibited by federal law. Accordingly, according to SCPRT, concealed carry must be prohibited in those 6 parks, and allowing concealed carry in the remaining 41 state parks would create “inconsistent rules regarding firearms lead[ing] to public confusion and difficulties in enforcement for park staff,” so concealed carry can and should be prohibited in all 47 state parks.

Finally, SCPRT notes that nature trails in S.C. state parks are well-trafficked, and animal attacks are extremely rare, if not unheard of, which means that visitors to the state parks do not need firearms to protect themselves.

Mid-Carolina Rifle Club is not taking any official position regarding this policy of SCPRT, but does caution its members, many of whom enjoy outdoor activities and may partake in the opportunities provided by the S.C. state park system, to keep this policy in mind while visiting state parks in the future.



LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 11 – 15, 2022 (Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 9:00pm)

In the aftermath of the events that occurred in Highland Park, IL on Independence Day, the President has called for Congress to re-establish a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” In response to this request, it is expected that Democratic members of Congress will introduce some form of legislation calling for such a ban, most probably in the House of Representatives, in the near future. While it is unclear what traction such a proposal might have, especially in the U.S. Senate, members of the Club who have an opinion on this matter are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives to politely and respectfully inform them of their position on this matter. Contact information for the S.C. Congressional Delegation is available through the yellow button in the upper left-hand corner of this post.

In other firearm related legislative news, it has been reported that the Senate is expected to vote this week to confirm the President’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach. The federal agency responsible for regulating firearms hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. Again, members of the Club who have an opinion on this matter are encouraged to contact their Senators to politely and respectfully inform them of their position on this subject.



LEGISLATIVE ROUND-UP: Federal Gun Control Bill Passes in the US Senate & House and is Signed into Law by President; New York Passes New Laws in Response to Supreme Court’s Invalidation of NYC’s Restrictive Licensing Regime (Friday, July 1, 2022, 9:00pm)

As expected, both chambers of the U.S. Congress have passed, and the President has signed into law, a comprehensive gun control law that creates monetary incentives for states to implement “red flag” laws and further expands the background check system for those seeking to purchase a firearm.

The law, entitled The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, authorizes $750 million to help states implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, as well as other violence prevention programs, and provides funding for a variety of programs to strengthen the availability of mental health support and to secure schools. It also enhances background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 by giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of younger gun purchasers, and makes it unlawful for someone to purchase a gun for someone who would fail a background check.

Another key provision is designed to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” so individuals in “serious dating relationships” who are convicted of domestic abuse will be prevented from purchasing a gun.

The signing of the gun safety bill comes just days after a major Supreme Court decision expanding gun rights by striking down a 100-year-old New York law that restricted the concealed carry of handguns in public to only those with a “proper cause.”

In response to this Supreme Court ruling, The New York State Assembly and the Governor of New York, having focused on the language of the Supreme Court’s decision which noted that the New York law afforded too much discretion to state officials in determining the “proper cause” necessary to grant a concealed carry handgun license, have passed a law that attempts to clarify the process and procedure by which they will restrict gun ownership within the state of New York. Specifically, the New York legislature has, by statute, created a concealed carry permitting process that adds specific eligibility requirements, including the taking and passing of firearm training courses for permit applicants, and enables the State to regulate and standardize training for license applicants. The legislation also identified sensitive locations where it is prohibited to carry a concealed weapon (including public transportation and Times Square) and establishes that private property owners must expressly allow a person to possess a firearm, rifle, or shotgun on their property. Individuals who carry concealed weapons in sensitive locations or in contravention of the authority of an owner of private property will face felony-level criminal penalties.

The law also gives the State of New York concurrent oversight, with the FBI, over background checks for firearms, the ability to run regular, on-going monthly checks on license holders for criminal convictions, and create a state-wide license and ammunition database, which will require any seller of ammunition or dealer of firearms in the state to make and maintain records relating to “every transaction involving ammunition” and include “the date, name, age, occupation and residence of any person from whom ammunition is received or to whom ammunition is delivered, and the amount, calibre [sic], manufacturer’s name and serial number, or if none, any other distinguishing number or identification mark on such ammunition”.

The law also expands the prohibition on the ownership of body armor to include vests designed to contain protective inserts under the definition of body armor, even if those vests do not actually contain the inserts that afford bulletproof protection, and creates requirements for the safe storage of firearms. The law is set to take effect on September 1, 2022. The law also creates an appeals board for those applicants whose license is denied, which will take effect on April 1, 2023.

The impact of this New York law will most probably have little, if any, effect on the laws of our state, but some of the provisions in the NY law may form the basis of future challenges and may result in further clarification by the courts as to the limits to which a state may regulate and oversee gun ownership within its jurisdiction. We will continue to monitor this situation and reports any developments.



BREAKING NEWS: Gun Control Bill Advances in the US Senate (Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 11:00am)

On Tuesday evening (June 21, 2022), US Senators Chris Murphy, a Democrat and John Cornyn, a Republican, announced that a final agreement on the provisions of a bipartisan gun violence bill has been reached.

The 80 page Senate bill, titled the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” (S. ___ [bill # pending]), which advanced on a 64-34 vote, toughens background checks for gun buyers ages 18-21, giving the FBI up to ten days to review the mental-health and criminal records of younger gun buyers, will require more sellers to conduct background checks, and would provide money to the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take firearms from people adjudged dangerous.

The legislation as currently written also expands the background screening process to include a prohibition against non-married romantic partners convicted of domestic violence from passing background checks, and will beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It would also disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.

The legislation lacks the far more potent proposals that President Joe Biden supports and Democrats have pushed for years without success, such as: banning assault-type weapons or raising the minimum age for buying them; prohibiting high-capacity magazines, and; requiring background checks for virtually all gun sales.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he expects the bill to be brought to a vote and passed by the full Senate by the end of the week.

The text of the Senate bill can be found by clicking the following web link: https://www.murphy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/bipartisan_safer_communities_act_text.pdf



BREAKING NEWS: US House of Representatives Approves Gun Control Bills (Monday, June 13, 2022, 2:00pm)

Last week, as expected, the U.S. House of Representatives passed comprehensive gun control legislation consisting of two (2) bills, H.R. 7910, titled the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” and H.R. 2377, titled the “Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021.”  These bills include provisions which would raise the age for acquiring semi-automatic rifles and shotguns nation-wide from 18 to 21 years of age, ban so-called “high capacity” magazines and fund “buyback” programs, create requirements to regulate the transfer of certain currently freely available firearm parts, create “safe storage” mandates, and create “red flag” rules at the federal level.

While these proposals appear onerous on their face, and passed the vote in the House easily, based on the current Democratic majority in that chamber and the votes of ten (10) Republican Congressmen who broke party ranks, it appears that the real fight over this legislation will occur in the U.S. Senate.

To this end, twenty (20) prominent Senators (10 Democrats and 10 Republicans) have been holding, since last month, a bipartisan conference to attempt to find “common ground” for proposed gun control legislation. The 20 Senators are:

  • Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Chris Coons of Delaware
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Chris Murphy of Connecticut
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Martin Heinrich of New Mexico
  • Mark Kelly of Arizona
  • Angus King of Maine
  • Joe Manchin of West Virginia
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona
  • Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

It has been reported that this past weekend the bipartisan Senate conference had reached an “agreement in principle” (i.e. without concrete details) regarding what could be included in a Senate version of a gun control bill that would garner enough support from the Republican side to ensure that such a bill would be “filibuster proof.”

It is being reported that, most importantly, the agreement in principle will not include the following:

  • NO HIGHER AGE REQUIREMENT TO BUY SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES: No agreement to include a provision to raise the age for buying a semiautomatic rifle to 21 from 18 years of age; it appears that this will remain under the purview of each state
  • NO EXPANSION OF THE FEDERAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM: No agreement to include proposals to expand federal background checks to buy a weapon, or to create or extend a waiting period
  • NO REPEAL OF LIABILITY SHIELD: No mention of amending or repealing a federal liability shield that protects gun manufacturers from being sued for actions by individuals using their products over which the manufacturer has no control

However, it is also being reported that the agreement in principle will include:

  • CRISIS INTERVENTION SUPPORT AT THE STATE LEVEL: The Federal Government will provide funding to the states to implement and administer “red flag” laws
  • ENHANCED REVIEW PROCESS FOR BUYERS UNDER 21: An “investigative period” to review the juvenile criminal and mental health records for gun buyers under 21 years of age, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement
  • PENALTIES FOR “STRAW PURCHASES”: Increase in criminal liability for criminals who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns
  • MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, TELEHEALTH INVESTMENTS: Expansion of community behavioral health center models and investments to increase mental health/suicide prevention, and funding for crisis/trauma intervention & recovery services, including services to be provided via telehealth
  • CLARIFICATION ON DEFINITION OF LICENSED DEALER: Provide clarification of the definition of a federally licensed firearms dealer and strengthen laws aimed at criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements
  • PROTECTIONS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS: Include domestic violence restraining orders in the category of “crimes” subject to criminal background checks for gun purchases
  • SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH AND SUPPORT SERVICES FUNDING: Increase funding to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs
  • SCHOOL SAFETY RESOURCE FUNDING: Provide federal funding to programs that help primary and secondary schools create safety measures, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students

Further information about advancement of actual legislation in the U.S. Senate will be shared as it becomes available.