On 2023-03-31 United States District Judge Katherine Menendez issued summary judgement for the plaintiffs(good guys) allowing young adults to receive government permission to carry handguns in Minnesota.
— Summary Judgement and Opinion 0:21-cv-01348 District Court of Minnesota
The state claimed
Minnesota’s permit to carry statute is facially constitutional as a matter of law. — Memorandum in support for Summary Judgement for the defendants at P. 14. They get their claim by contending that the Supreme Court has approved infringing on the rights of 18-20 year olds.
— Id. at P14,15
They argue that because Bruen did not address 18-20 year olds that there is no right for 18-20 year olds to bear arms in public. They don’t actually do anything to show that 18-20 year olds are not part of The People but instead rely on
[N]othing in our analysis should be interpreted to suggest the unconstitutionality of the 43 ‘shall issue’ licensing regimes[.]
— Id. at 15 quoting Bruen at 2138
In other words the state thinks that because they are a shall issue state that their statutes are implicitly declared constitutional in Bruen
— Id. at 19
The state says that the plain text “The People” doesn’t include 18-20 year olds because
…at the time of the adoption of both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, 18-to-20-year-olds were not adults under the law. — Id. at 20
Having made the argument that 18-20 year olds had rights subsumed from their parents, ignoring the fact that at the time of the founding most people were married by the time they were 20, the state claims that they can use reconstruction era regulations because Minnesota did not become a state until 1858.
This ignores the fact that the people of 1858 and 1868 in Minnesota engaged in means-end balancing and choose to adopt the Second Amendment as it was understood at the time of the founding.
They intentionally conflate “infants” with “minors” with “18-20 year olds”. They also had to play
gun violence was not a pressing issue of public concern at the time the Second Amendment was enacted. — Id. at 26 quoting Cornell Rep. at 16.
In the age restriction cases the states are arguing that the rules of collages are the same as regulations. In legal speak “regulation” is an actual law or order having the force of law. So an ATF regulation has the force of law so it is included in the definition of “regulation” but an ATF rule or policy saying that you have to fill out a 4473 with red ink does not.
Of course they have to appeal to emotional blackmail in explaining how come their particular infringement is for the public good. They do this by saying that 18-20s aren’t really adults (quick, when they start the draft we can use their arguments to protect our young children, right? Right?)
One of the issues is that the state is right, the vast majority of homicides inflicted with guns are don by 17-25 year olds. They carefully ignore the other variables, such as race and culture.
The Court did not buy the states arguments.
Neither Heller nor Bruen addressed the specific issue of whether the Second Amendment’s text protects the rights of 18-to-20-year-olds. But because the normal and ordinary meaning of “the people” includes all Americans who are a part of the national community, the right codified by the Amendment appears to include them.
— Opinion at P. 14
Given that both parties agreed that the permitting statute was conduct that was covered by the Second Amendment having 18-20 year olds be part of The People, this case now moves to finding historical analogues.
The court continues with their analysis and finds that the state did not present any analogous laws relating to restricting the right of 18-20 year olds from carrying. They did dig through the Bondi case out of the Eleventh Circuit Court involving 18-20 year old purchase restrictions. They found that purchasing wasn’t the same as carrying. Carrying is a core civil right so Bondi doesn’t match this case.
The Commissioner has proposed no other founding-era firearm regulations as historical analogues justifying Minnesota’s age requirement. Other courts looking for historical restrictions from the founding era on the rights of 18-to-20-year-olds to keep and bear arms have similarly come up empty. McCraw, 2022 WL 3656996, at *9–10 (finding that Texas had failed to identify any relevantly similar historical analogue for its law prohibiting 18–20-year-olds from applying for a license to carry); Hirschfeld, 5 F.4th at 439 (“At the time of ratification, there were no laws restricting minors’ possession or purchase of firearms”). But the Commissioner argues that a narrow focus on the presence—or absence—of laws expressly prohibiting people under 21 from carrying firearms creates a skewed perception of the reality of gun possession during the founding era.
The Commissioner states that “context is key to understanding historical analogues to Minnesota’s permitting scheme from the Founding Era.” [Doc. 72 at 13]. The Commissioner points to Professor Cornell’s response to a deposition question asking him to identify a law from the founding era restricting 18-to-20-year-olds from purchasing or carrying firearms. Professor Cornell testified that he was aware of no such laws, but deemed the inquiry a “bad question.” [Doc. 72 at 14 (citing Cornell Dep. 177:9–21) (alteration in original)]. And in his expert report, Professor Cornell explains that “[a]ny effort to understand the Second Amendment and the history of gun regulation must … canvass a variety of historical topics, including such diverse subfields as legal history, social history, cultural history, economic history, and military history,” because failing to do so risks adopting a “discredited ‘tunnel vision’ approach to historical analysis.” [Doc. 50-1 at 9–10]. Essentially, the Commissioner’s expert argues that the absence of founding-era laws restricting 18-to-20-year-olds from publicly carrying firearms only permits an inference that the public understood that group to possess a corresponding constitutional right to public carry if one makes anachronistic and flawed assumptions about what that regulatory silence means.
— Opinion at P.35
The Court is saying that the state failed to find any laws that were a close enough match. Instead the state brought in an expert to testify that the Court should look beyond the law and see that there were restrictions on firearms but that the
regulatory silence — Id. that there was restrictions.
This directly contradicts the Supreme Court which said
In keeping with Heller, we hold that when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct.
— New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 – Supreme Court 2022 at 2126. In other words, silence means protected, not infringed.
The Court figured that out as well
But persuasive as one may find this criticism, Bruen instructs lower courts that “when a challenged regulation addresses a general societal problem that has persisted since the 18th century, the lack of a distinctly similar historical regulation addressing that problem is relevant evidence that the challenged regulation is inconsistent with the Second Amendment.”
— Opinion at P. 35 quoting Bruen at 2131
— Opinion at P. 40
Specific reliefs omitted.
I do not like this judge’s dicta. She really really wants to find for the state. For a Biden nominated judge she followed Bruen as much as it pained her to do so.
Good job Judge. No Dunce cap for you.
One thought on “<i>Bruen</i> Win in Minnesota”
Dumb question, AWA … It occurs to me I’ve never heard of one of these cases being decided by a jury. It’s always just a single judge, or panel of judges … but no body of citizenry. Do you happen to know why that is?
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