A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
March 25, 2021
Mass shootings are once again front page news. On March 16, a lone gunman, 21 year old Robert Aaron Long, shot and killed eight people, including six Asian American women, and wounded one other person at three different spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area. On March 22, another gunman (allegedly 21 year old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa), shot and killed ten people, including the first responding police officer, at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado
In between these two horrific mass shootings, Americans Against Gun Violence filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Duncan v. Becerra – a case that is highly relevant to both the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings. In our brief, we called on the Court to help stop the carnage by upholding a large capacity magazine ban and by ending the fraudulent misrepresentation of the Second Amendment – a fraud that was endorsed by a narrow five member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in its rogue 2008 Heller decision and that has since been amplified by lower courts.
In Heller, by a margin of a single justice’s vote, the Supreme Court reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court decisions, in ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment conferred any kind of individual right to own a gun unrelated to service in a well regulated militia. Americans Against Gun Violence was the only national gun violence prevention (GVP) organization in the entire United States to file an amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the Heller decision in the 2019 Second Amendment case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. New York; and we are again the only organization to make the point in the Second Amendment case of Duncan v. Becerra that Heller is worse than a rogue decision, worse even than what the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger called, “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word, ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” By creating a constitutional obstacle, where none previously existed, to the adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries – laws that almost certainly would have prevented both the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings, as well as most of the other more than 100 fatal shootings that occur on an average day in our country – the Heller decision is literally a death sentence for tens of thousands of Americans annually.
Please make a contribution to Americans Against Gun Violence to support our efforts to overturn the Heller decision and adopt stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries. Read on for more details.
In the case of Duncan v. Becerra, a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 14, 2020 in a 2-1 decision that California’s ban on civilian ownership of large capacity magazines (defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and abbreviated as “LCM’s”) violated the Second Amendment. The ban had been approved by almost a two to one margin by California voters in 2016 as part of Proposition 63, but the gun lobby challenged the constitutionality of the ban in Duncan v. Becerra. The gun lobby’s challenge was based almost entirely upon the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 Heller decision, in which the Court ruled that Washington DC’s restrictive handgun licensing law was unconstitutional. Former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra appealed to the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for “en banc” review of the panel’s split decision, and the Court agreed for an eleven judge panel to rehear the case on June 22, 2021. We filed our amicus briefs in support of the LCM ban on March 18, the deadline to submit briefs to the en banc panel.
The majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, written by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has been appropriately called “gun rights propaganda passing as scholarship.” Judge Lee’s 64 page majority opinion in Duncan v. Becerra takes the courts’ endorsement of gun rights propaganda to a new low.
The Second Amendment states, in its entirety:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Among the many absurdities in Judge Lee’s majority opinion in Duncan v. Becerra is the argument that LCM’s were in common usage in 1791 when the Second Amendment was adopted. Of course, there is no mention of LCM’s in the Second Amendment itself or in historical records concerning the writing and ratification of the Amendment. Nor, in fact, is there anything in these records to suggest that the founders who wrote, debated, revised, and later voted to ratify the Second Amendment ever intended or understood it to confer an individual right to own any kind of gun or gun-related paraphernalia unrelated to service in a well regulated militia. Prior to 2008, the Supreme Court had specifically ruled on four separate occasions that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to own guns. Specifically, in the 1939 Miller decision, the Court ruled unanimously:
“With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of