July 14, 2024

In the latest fallout from the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision, a New York judge has ordered the State of New York to compensate the National Rifle Association (NRA) almost half a million in legal fees.

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In a case decided last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that a New York public carry licensing law was unconstitutional and that the ability to carry a pistol in public was a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

The NRA was a party in that case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, and last week a New York judge ordered the state to pay $447,700.82 in legal fees. 

“The NRA regards the $447K award in the NYSRPA V. Bruen case as a pivotal victory, a symbol that justice is definitively on our side,” Michael Jean, NRA’s director of the Office of Litigation Counsel, told Fox News Digital in a statement.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a Life Member of the NRA since 1996.

The “hit them in the pocketbook” strategy can be very effective. Last summer my colleague Jeff Charles documented a case wherein the District of Columbia was ordered to pay millions to legal gun owners who had been arrested under an illegitimate law. And that’s not the only post-Bruen case, as only last month Mr. Charles also presented a case wherein the state of New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham arbitrarily suspended the Second Amendment in the city of Albuquerque. 

The NRA has been under considerable (justified) criticism of late for the generous perks, paychecks, and benefits handed out to senior staff. But the NRA is also always the first organization that the would-be gun grabbers start shouting about whenever there is a highly-publicized instance of a crime committed by a perp with a firearm; like it or not, the NRA is and will remain a major player in the Second Amendment debate. It’s also common for the anti-gun Left to decry the NRA as the gun industry lobby, when in fact the NRA primarily represents its individual members. There is an organization that represents manufacturers, and that is the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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It’s important to note one thing from the Bruen decision in the dissent authored by Justice Stephen Breyer:

In one of his last cases as a justice, Stephen Breyer wrote an impassioned dissenting opinion in which he referenced present-day fervor over gun violence, as well as recent events. Joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, Breyer cited statistics, including 45,222 Americans killed by firearms in the U.S. in 2020, the number of mass shootings that had already taken place in 2022, and how gun violence was the leading cause of death for children and adolescents.

“Many States have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds,” Breyer wrote. “The court today severely burdens states’ efforts to do so.”

The flaws in his statistics aside – for instance, gun violence is not the leading cause of death for children and adolescents – Breyer’s argument falls apart on his use of the term “gun violence.” There is no such thing as gun violence. There is only violent crime, perpetrated by violent criminals; Breyer is attempting to blame the sword for the hand that wields it, which is not only flawed logically but also makes for ineffective policy.

But in this case, at least the NRA and, by association, the pro-gun side of the debate has been handed a win. Advocates for our Second Amendment rights can take some pleasure in this small victory, but there’s no time to rest on our laurels. Bruen has changed the face of the fight over the Second Amendment, having handed pro-Second Amendment advocates a powerful precedent. But while that battle was won, the war over our Second Amendment rights goes on.

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