- Attorneys that support gun control for law-abiding citizens are resorting to outdated, racist gun laws to satisfy new firearm law requirements laid out in the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case in June.
- The referenced laws are from the 1700s and 1800s and were used to restrict slaves, free black people, Native Americans and Catholics from owning firearms, with attorneys saying the laws show a “historical tradition” of restricting firearms that aligns with the Supreme Court’s decision.
- “Anti-gun lawyers are openly citing racists and bigoted laws dating from the colonial era to the Jim Crow south to support their modern gun control agenda. Whether it was ‘papists’ or Native Americans in the early days of our nation, or freed slaves following the Civil War, it was all wrong, and solely meant to disarm people based on their color or creed, which is a direct violation of our Second Amendment,” GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt told the DCNF.
Attorneys involved in legal battles across the country are turning to outdated, racist gun laws as a means to justify gun control regulation for law-abiding Americans after a landmark Supreme Court decision in June established a need for all gun laws to be rooted in the “historical tradition” of American firearm regulation.
The attorneys are referencing numerous laws from the 1700s and 1800s that were used to restrict slaves, free black people, Native Americans and Catholics from owning firearms, saying the laws show a “historical tradition” of restricting firearms which aligns with the Supreme Court’s decision in the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case, according to The Wall Street Journal. New York first referenced outdated, racist laws after the Bruen decision to defend its updated concealed carry law, opting to reference colonial era laws that were once used to restrict Native American tribes from acquiring firearms, according to court filings.
“The reason that anti-gun rights Democrat attorneys are using old discredited racist gun laws from the past to provide historical tradition for current gun laws in light of the Bruen decision is because they have no valid arguments to make. This is a losing argument that makes them look like they support racist laws staying on the books,” Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Most recently, Attorneys in California have resorted to referencing outdated, racist gun laws in legal battles over the constitutionality of ammunition background checks and magazine capacity limits, according to court documents. Attorneys in the Rhode v. Bonta and Duncan v. Bonta cases submitted briefings in January that reference many laws from the 1700s and 1800s.
The briefs were filed after United States district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California Roger Thomas Benitez requested that defendants in the cases submit a list of any “relevantly similar” historical laws, according to the WSJ.
In the Rhode v. Bonta case, attorneys referenced 107 historic laws they believed were relevant to their case, including a Virginia law from 1619 that restricted giving native Americans firearms, a 1633 Massachusetts law that prohibited Native Americans from possessing, trading, seeking or repairing firearms, a 1740 South Carolina act that “prohibited any negro or slave” from possessing or using a firearm without their master’s consent and a 1756 Virginia law that prohibited Catholics from owning firearms and required that they swear oaths of allegiance in front of justices of the peace.
The Duncan v. Bonta case cited an 1835 Arkansas law, an 1818 Missouri law and an 1804 Mississippi law that blocked any “slave or mulatto” from keeping or carrying a gun, powder, shot or club, according to the brief.
“The California Department of Justice should be ashamed of itself for citing so many discriminatory laws of the past as its purported historical analogues. But even setting aside the government’s shamelessness, the argument they make is still unpersuasive,” Michel & Associates Attorney Konstadinos Moros told the DCNF.
Moros argued that the outdated laws do not provide a sufficient argument, as the Supreme Court could have referenced numerous laws from the past that are racist. Instead, they chose to only consider proper “historical analogues” that are well-established and representative of laws that apply to all citizens, not just to marginalized groups and slaves, Moros told the DCNF.
“As we have formed a more perfect union, we’ve rightly decided as a country to correct the sins of our founding and include everyone in ‘the people.’ That the Department of Justice would sink so low to try and save California’s unconstitutional gun control regime demonstrates that their laws are in trouble – and they know it,” Moros continued.
After New York passed its updated concealed carry act, Second Amendment advocacy group Gun Owners Of America (GOA) filed a lawsuit against New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen, saying the laws used to prove “historical tradition” were used to take both First and Second Amendment rights from minorities.
Bruen defended the decision, saying that the law was deeply rooted in Anglo-American legal tradition and should therefore be upheld by the court. “From the early days of English settlement in America, the colonies sought to prevent Native American tribes from acquiring firearms, passing laws forbidding the sale and trading of arms to Indigenous people,” Bruen said in court filings at the time.
Bruen’s lawyers also noted that Catholics were barred from owning firearms due to their suspected disloyalty, according to the filing.
“Anti-gun lawyers are openly citing racists and bigoted laws dating from the colonial era to the Jim Crow south to support their modern gun control agenda. Whether it was ‘papists’ or Native Americans in the early days of our nation, or freed slaves following the Civil War, it was all wrong, and solely meant to disarm people based on their color or creed, which is a direct violation of our Second Amendment,” GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt told the DCNF.
The California Office of the Attorney General did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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