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MSLF’s Defense of Second Amendment at Courts of Appeals And Soon Before the Supreme Court of the United States Is About The Right “To Keep And Bear Arms” And Our Liberty!

Sep 15, 2015 | by William Perry Pendley

On behalf of Americans who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms,” whether on a visit to a local Post Office to get their mail or while recreating on the vast, nationwide acreage managed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, MSLF is battling federal lawyers who thumb their noses at the recent rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Constitution, and the rights of Americans to defend themselves. 

After all, in 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, and then in 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court embraced the arguments made by MSLF and upheld the Second Amendment rights of American citizens against the federal government and then against the City of Chicago.  In McDonald, Justice Alito’s opinion for the Court cited to the hard-hitting brief MSLF filed, and in Heller, one of the first questions asked during oral arguments seemed inspired by MSLF’s defense of a Montana rancher who killed a grizzly bear in self-defense but endured an eight-year persecution by federal lawyers.

Years before Heller and McDonald, it was MSLF defending the Second Amendment when federal lawyers charged that MSLF’s client, John Shuler of Dupuyer, Montana, violated the Endangered Species Act.  First, the lawyers charged that grizzly bears are entitled to the same self-defense standard as human beings.  Then they said Shuler could not go outside his home with his rifle because grizzly bears made his yard a “zone of imminent danger.”  Then they said, because Shuler’s dog Boone went “on point” after seeing the bear, Boone “provoked” the bear and “escalated” the conflict.  Finally, they argued that bears are entitled to an even higher self-defense standard than humans because they are not capable of sapient thought.  It makes the mind reel!

The case made national headlines, Rush Limbaugh discussed it, and the Reader’s Digest featured it twice in its “That’s Outrageous” column.  In the end, MSLF won; however, it went on for eight years and, if Shuler had to pay MSLF’s legal fees, it would have cost him $225,000.  Unfortunately, all who live in grizzly bear country heard about what the federal government tried to do to Shuler, did not want that to happen to them, and thus acted accordingly when facing grizzly bears, which nearly killed a Wyoming man!

Thus, MSLF defends the Second Amendment.  Government lawyers could not care less about the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, or a citizen’s need to defend herself.  Now MSLF is headed to the Supreme Court.

Days ago, MSLF asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to rehear a case involving a Colorado man who sued the U.S. Postal Service for denying him his right to exercise his Second Amendment rights when he drives from his rural home—where he does not receive his mail—to the Avon Post Office.  Under federal regulations adopted before Heller, Tad Bonidy may not enter the Post Office parking lot if his firearm (he has a Colorado permit to carry a concealed weapon) or his hunting rifle is in his pickup. 

Twice Obama’s Justice Department moved to dismiss MSLF’s lawsuit (filed in 2010) and twice the Colorado federal district court refused.  In 2013, the judge upbraided Obama’s lawyer, “[T]here's a difference between all of this broad, general restriction and an individual situation….  [T]his is more of what we are seeing[;] regulatory authority prevails, period.  It isn't going to happen [here].”  Ruled the judge, “In sum, openly carrying a firearm outside the home is a liberty protected by the Second Amendment….  The parking lot adjacent to the building is not a sensitive place and the [U.S. Postal Service] failed to show that an absolute ban on firearms is substantially related to [its] important public safety objective.”  The Obama administration appealed. 

Recently, a panel of the Tenth Circuit (by 2-1) reversed the district court, but the powerful dissent declared the ruling was inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s holding in Heller.  MSLF is now asking that the entire Tenth Circuit bring its opinion in line with Heller.  Next stop:  the Supreme Court!

Meanwhile, MSLF is at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit defending its landmark victory for an Idaho woman, Elizabeth E. Nesbitt.  Ms. Nesbitt was issued an emergency license by the Nez Perce County Sheriff to carry a concealed handgun due to threats from and physical attacks against her by a former neighbor.  Needless to say, she regularly carries a handgun for self-defense, but may not do so when she seeks to use lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Corps runs recreational facilities and public parks at water development projects; it is the nation’s largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation.  Waters under its control constitute 33 percent of U.S. freshwater fishing.  That is why MSLF filed its 2013 lawsuit.

Over the protestations of an Obama Department of Justice lawyer—a senior litigator jetted into Boise to argue the case—the Idaho federal district court struck down the Corps’ regulations as contrary to Heller; its ruling was based on 9th Circuit precedent.  MSLF’s lawsuit is so compelling and critical it drew friends of the court support from two 140 year old organizations:  the National Rifle Association of America, Inc. and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.  After the appeals court’s ruling, next stop:  the Supreme Court!

When MSLF reaches the Supreme Court, it hopes for a victory like its 2012 Colorado Supreme Court unanimous win for a University of Colorado (CU) coed who wished to protect herself on CU’s dangerous Denver campus.  CU told her to fight rapists, not with her gun, but “passive resistance.”  MSLF argued otherwise and won.  Thank you for defending the 2nd Amendment!

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