Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reality Bites

Sayre Weaver is one of the leading legal lights of the gun control movement in California. She is one of the lead attorneys for the County of Alameda in the Nordyke case and she helped the City of West Hollywood develop their law prohibiting the sale of "junk guns"(sic). She has won awards from Women Against Gun Violence and the California Wellness Foundation for her work on gun control. The LA Times writes glowing articles about her that characterize her "as the California gun lobby's Public Enemy No. 1." So, when she says the McDonald decision is likely to spawn lawsuits challenging local gun control laws, I listen.

Weaver released her analysis on the impact of McDonald v. Chicago on Monday. Her analysis centers on the likely immediate impact that McDonald will have for local governments in California.
  • Local ordinances regulating firearm possession and sale are now more open to challenge on Second Amendment grounds
It appears likely that McDonald will generate challenges to a wide range of local firearms regulations, as well as ammunition regulations.....Because the Court has given little guidance on what standard a firearms regulation must meet to survive challenge under the Second Amendment, we anticipate that the decision will embolden individual litigants to challenge a wide range of firearms laws, including long standing laws that have previously survived challenge in the courts.

  • Local firearms ordinances must now meet a more rigorous constitutional standard to survive legal challenge
Because any restriction on firearms possession or sale might be argued to create some burden on the right to possess a firearm for self-defense in the home, local governments should anticipate numerous lawsuits challenging a wide range of firearms laws. There are already a number of such challenges in the California courts, which were stayed while those courts waited for McDonald.

  • Local ordinances regulating possession of handguns or prohibiting certain types of handguns are more vulnerable to challenge under the Second Amendment
Because the Second Amendment right articulated by the Court pertains to possession of handguns, which the Court characterizes as the most popular weapon among Americans for self-defense, it is likely that local regulations of handguns will be challenged under the Second Amendment.

  • Successful Second Amendment challenges to local laws may result in the award of attorney fees against a city and to the challenging party
While she doesn't come out and say it, if a city loses a challenge to a firearm restriction in court, they will end up paying the costs for both the defense and the plaintiffs. In case-strapped California, this should make some municipalities think twice.

  • Local governments considering adopting new firearms ordinances may wish to consult with their City Attorneys
...ordinances will now be subject to a stricter test in the courts, and the legislative findings that may be needed for a given law to pass muster under the Second Amendment will be of particular importance.

The bottom line for Weaver is that the world as she knew it has changed with McDonald.

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