In the wake of the Bruen decision, we’ve seen a lot of gun control measures fall. The guidelines presented in that decision make a lot of things pretty clear with regard to restricting the right to keep and bear arms. There are permissible restrictions under Bruen, but they’re going to be rare.
A federal judge in Oregon, however, apparently read a different version of not just Bruen, but Heller as well.
A federal judge says Oregon’s new, stricter gun safety rules are constitutional.
In a 122-page written order issued late Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut found banning large capacity magazines and requiring a permit to purchase a firearm are in keeping with “the nation’s history and tradition of regulating uniquely dangerous features of weapons and firearms to protect public safety.”
Immergut’s order comes after a weeklong trial in early June testing the constitutionality of Oregon’s new gun laws, which voters approved last fall. It follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, in which the court’s conservative majority decided that no one should need special permission to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry firearms outside their home.
Large capacity magazines “are not commonly used for self-defense, and are therefore not protected by the Second Amendment,” Immergut wrote. “The Second Amendment also allows governments to ensure that only law-abiding, responsible citizens keep and bear arms.”
She ruled that Ballot Measure 114′s permitting system does not violate the Second Amendment and therefore does not deprive Oregonians of their liberty.
Now, first, Immergut’s ruling may be wrong, but enforcement of the rule is still on hold, which is good because this ruling is absolutely horrific.
For example, as the Firearms Policy Coalition notes, the ruling literally says that only self-defense is protected by the Second Amendment.
The judge says that only guns "in common use for self-defense" are protected by the Second Amendment, and not guns commonly used for hunting or target shooting (are the fudds paying attention now?) https://t.co/ezCNYgBEjX pic.twitter.com/lJv1uSPL9f
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) July 14, 2023
Immergut actually makes the argument based on her reading of Heller, which doesn’t look at all like the Heller decision I’ve read.
What many critics of this decision have noted–correctly, in my layman’s opinion–is that what Immergut has done is basically resurrected means testing for Second Amendment cases. While this isn’t strict or intermediate scrutiny, it amounts to essentially the same thing, one’s rights are considered in balance with other factors.
That’s going to be a problem.
However, there’s something in this some folks might want to think about.
Immergut basically makes the case that only the right to keep and bear self-defense weapons is protected under the Second Amendment, which means all those who target shoot or hunt–and are often told no one is coming after those weapons–need to recognize that Immergut has basically said those weapons can be restricted just fine.
As we saw after Bruen, there are jurisdictions that will restrict anything they’re permitted to restrict, which means if this ruling stands and under some quirk of fate were to become the law of the land, those hunting rifles are likely to face gun control.
The good news is that I just don’t see this surviving very long. I can’t imagine the circuit court is going to have quite the same reading of Heller and Bruen. If they do, well, that’s OK because then we get to present this before the Supreme Court, and this is a Court that seems quite eager to take up Second Amendment cases.
At that point, this gets smacked down, and depending on the ruling from SCOTUS, a lot more gun control laws may well tumble into oblivion.
Frankly, they all should, but we’re not going to get there overnight.