Washington Bureau

07.16.13

Despite Trayvon, Courts Issuing Pro-Gun Control Decisions

While Trayvon Martin got the publicity, gun control advocates racked up three wins in federal courts last week.

The past week has not been a good one for the gun lobby.

While the Travyon Martin verdict may have created a media feeding frenzy around Florida’s years-old “Stand Your Ground” law, federal courts across the country have handed down three significant decisions this month that have buoyed gun control proponents.

Perhaps the biggest decision was when a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of New York City’s gun licensing scheme last week.  Pro-gun rights lobbyists were challenging a municipal regulation that required city residents to pay $340 for a three-year handgun license as excessive. The court disagreed, holding that the fee was reasonable since it accurately reflected the cost to New York City of processing applications for gun licenses. 

In Texas, a panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected a suit last week from a gun store owner that tried to challenge an ATF regulation that required those selling multiple semi-automatic weapons in border states to notify the federal government. The regulation is designed to prevent Mexican drug gangs from buying semi-automatic weapons in the United States and then smuggling them back across the border. The decision was condemned by the National Rifle Association.

Finally, Marcia Krieger, a U.S. district court judge in Colorado, refrained from issuing an injunction last week to block enforcement of the Rocky Mountain state’s new regulation banning gun magazines holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. Krieger said an injunction was unnecessary after opponents of the law reached a compromise with the state about how the ban would be enforced.

None of these decisions individually represent huge setbacks for opponents of gun control. But, with George Zimmerman’s acquittal and the failure of Congress to pass the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation, they do serve to rebut the prevailing narrative that gun control advocates in the United States are doomed to fail.