Wyoming Liberty Group
Earlier last week, respected cybersecurity journalist and policy advisor David Gewirtz wrote to defend, even celebrate, the National Security Administration’s data-collection efforts. Gewirtz’s basic points are these: (1) Facebook and other companies regularly collect much more data than the NSA; (2) the government is only trapping minute bits of data in very accurate ways; and (3) this is all overblown. Because of this, Gewirtz goes so far as to boast the NSA’s effort is an “absolute triumph of big-data management.”
Last week, as part of a comprehensive set of state laws relating to firearms, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed Bill A-3687/S-2485, a bill that disqualifies a person named on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining firearms identification card or permit to purchase a handgun. Christie included a signing statement that recognizes concerns “based on the reliability and accuracy of background check information provided to law enforcement officers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Mark your calendar: the legislature’s Select Investigative Committee will meet in room 302 in the Capitol at 1:00 PM this Wednesday, August 7th. The meeting will be open to the public, and will be streamed live from the legislature’s web site. For more information, including the agenda, see the Committee’s web page.
Today, in a 5-4 decision the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against government shakedowns and simultaneously reinforced land rights in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.
Koontz purchased a tract of land of about 15 acres near Orlando, Florida in 1972. Over time, as Orlando grew, the location became more attractive and thus more valuable. At the same time, Florida enacted several laws to protect wetlands, which made up a large portion of Koontz’s parcel, and the St. Johns River Management District used these laws to require builders on wetlands to “offset the resulting environmental damage by creating, enhancing, or preserving wetlands elsewhere.”
Last Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Montana Shooting Sports Association v. Holder (MSSA), a lawsuit asserting Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act against the federal government. Basically, the Firearms Freedom Act (Wyoming passed a similar law in 2010) asserts that firearms manufactured within a state (built from major parts assembled within said state) and sold within that state may avoid federal oversight under the National Firearms Act, Gun Control Act and other federal laws regulating firearms manufacture and sales.
Lawyers make mistakes. Sarcastic readers may retort that merely attending law school proves the point, and I agree, but I digress. Recently, in our brief for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Free Speech v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) case, I mis-cited a previous case, stating it was a decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals when it was instead a decision of a district court in D.C. (The case is FEC v. GOPAC.) Despite the fact that the principle of this case that we rely on in our argument has endured in the D.C. Circuit (and elsewhere), district court decisions don’t have the same persuasive oomph of court of appeals decisions, so opposing counsel at the FEC got in a worthwhile zing by pointing out my error in their brief.
Yesterday, President Obama announced a re-invigorated push for gun control, and signed an executive order for 23 actions while pushing for Congress to pass sweeping measures that will, as gun control always goes, punish law-abiding citizens for the acts of criminals. In typical fashion, the President included a half-hearted disclaimer:
Let me be absolutely clear. Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen. There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting, or sport, or protection, or collection.