The Supreme Court scheduled its first big Second Amendment case in years this week. Now two other federal courts sent down separate Second Amendment victories. A federal judge in Hawaii struck down two state gun laws, and in Pennsylvania, an attempt to restrict a gun club with ant-firearm zoning regulations fell flat.
John Seabright, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, overturned two Hawaii laws. He ruled in Yukutake v. Connors that the state’s ten-day purchase restriction and subsequent in-person police inspection both violate the Second Amendment. Liberty Nation spoke exclusively to Stephen D. Stamboulieh, half of the pro-gun rights legal team that took up the case.
Stamboulieh said Hawaii has a de facto 14-day waiting period before any resident may purchase a firearm. To add insult to injury, approved buyers then had a mere ten days to buy a gun. Finally, if they got to the store in time, gun buyers had to make another trip, this time within five days, with the firearm to the police station. There, police would record the firearm’s serial number, something the federally licensed firearms dealer who sold it is already required to do.
“Ten days is too short,” Mr. Stamboulieh argued. And the judge agreed. There was no trial in this case because the facts were not in dispute, just the law. Applying an intermediate standard of review, the court said Hawaii gave no reasons why the ten-day wait gave any benefit to public safety.
“My clients are two normal dudes that don’t want to take off a bunch of work to exercise a fundamental right.”
The mandatory trip to the police station with a gun is also history. Stamboulieh went up against Everytown for Gun Safety and won. The anti-Second Amendment lobbying group often inserts itself into states’ and cities’ forays into gun control schemes and defended the law Judge Seabright struck down. “The Government has failed to show that the in-person inspection and registration requirement is reasonably tailored to a significant, substantial, or important government interest,” the judge explained. Mr. Stamboulieh litigates nationwide for those whose Second Amendment rights are trampled, as does the other lawyer in the case, Alan Beck.
Hawaii is quietly one of the worst places in the Union when it comes to honoring the right to keep and bear arms. There are shall-issue states – where anyone who meets the requirements can get a carry permit – and may-issue states – where only VIPs like celebrities and politicians get their permits. Hawaii, by contrast, has been called a no-issue state by gun owners because most years see not a single carry permit issued.
In Pennsylvania, gun rights proponents got a win from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. There, the Second Amendment Foundation successfully challenged anti-gun zoning restrictions applied against the Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club. Local officials thought they could restrict the types of firearms used at the club and the types of owners the club could have. The gun club lost in the lower court, but the appeals court ruled a higher burden must be met. The case will now go back down to the district court level for further hearing. The unanimous three-judge appellate ruling said, “we hold that the Township’s ordinance implicates the right to bear arms and must therefore face heightened scrutiny.”
These recent cases may be rendered moot if the Supreme Court grants a broad and bright-line ruling in the New York Rifle & Pistol Association case. It’s the first significant gun case the court has called in a long while, and the stakes are high. However, Mr. Stamboulieh predicts the Court is most likely to continue at an incremental pace. For him, that would be good job security.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.