Has the NRA Come to Bury the Second Amendment or to Defend It?

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The very first thing that crossed my mind when I saw that the National Rifle Association had filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court to step into a case which seeks to overturn Florida’s 1987 ban on openly carrying firearms, ostensibly in support of overturning Florida’s Open Carry ban, was a line from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2.

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

Mark Antony was, of course, lying. His purpose was to turn the Roman mob assembled before him against those who killed the Roman dictator, Julius Caesar. He succeeded.

There are only two ways to carry a firearm on one’s person. Either the firearm is carried openly (Open Carry) so that it is visible to persons approaching the bearer of the firearm from the front, or it is carried so that it is not visible to persons approaching the bearer of the firearm from the front in which case the firearm is carried concealed.

The National Rifle Association has long since been an opponent of Open Carry. The NRA helped write California’s 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms not forgetting that the 1923 California law requiring a permit to carry a handgun concealed was NRA draft legislation the NRA had peddled to the various states and California bought it.

Courthouse.

Indeed, these past six years the NRA has been in Federal court arguing to uphold California’s Open Carry bans as well as arguing in support of California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 which bans the carrying of handguns within 1,000 feet of a K-12 public or private school unless the handgun is unloaded and transported in a fully enclosed lock container (other than the glove box or console of a motor vehicle). Possession of a firearm in a school or on the grounds of a school be it K-12 or a college or university, requires permission from the school.

Five years ago, the NRA opposed attempts to overturn the Open Carry bans in Arkansas, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma and when a Federal appellate court in 2012 struck down an Illinois ban on carrying loaded and unloaded firearms, be they carried openly or concealed, the NRA lobbied the Illinois legislature to enact a new ban on openly carried firearms in 2013 and, ironically, lobbied the state to enact an onerous concealed carry permit requirement.

When the motion by the NRA attorney to step into the Florida Open Carry case first appeared on the Florida Supreme Court docket, I sent the NRA attorney an email in which I rhetorically asked him if he was going to honestly file an Amicus brief in support of Open Carry or if instead, like Mark Anthony, use his brief to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to bury the Second Amendment Open Carry right? He has not replied. We’ll have to wait and see what he says in his Amicus brief but we shouldn’t get our hopes up. After all, according to the NRA the only reason it supported an Open Carry bill in the Florida legislature this year was because the current Florida law excusing the brief, inadvertent display of a handgun carried concealed wasn’t working.

Despite the worst efforts of the NRA, the Open Carry bans have been lifted to varying degrees in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

All we can do now is to wait and see if the Florida Supreme Court strikes down Florida’s Open Carry bans. The case, Dale Norman v. Florida, will be heard on June 8, 2016. For more details, visit my website.