The Hero of Nasiriyah, Iraq – Sgt Major Justin LeHew Retires

H/T War History OnLine.

To Sgt. Major Justin LeHew I offer this sincere and heartfelt Hand Salute.

One wrong turn can be all it takes to turn a regular soldier into a hero.  On March 23rd, 2003, the US Army’s 507 Maintenance Company took that wrong turn and ended up in the city of  Nasiriyah, Iraq.  When the dust settled, eighteen Marines were lost, and events had transpired that would land Sergeant Major Justin LeHew the Navy Cross.

Six soldiers were captured, and eleven more killed when Iraqi forces bore down on the 507th during an ambush.  LeHew, then serving as a platoon sergeant, got the call to rescue the Army unit.

“Under constant enemy fire, he led the rescue team to the soldiers. With total disregard for his own welfare, he assisted the evacuation effort of four soldiers, two of whom were critically wounded,” LeHew’s Navy Cross citation reads.

Sgt. Maj. Justin D. LeHew

The sergeant major, now nicknamed the “Hero of Nasiriyah,” is now set to retire from the Marine Corps after thirty years of dignified service.  With the rescue effort complete, LeHew led his company of Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV’s) deeper into Nasiriyah to both capture and pacify it, as well as secure a bridge across the Euphrates, all while under enemy fire.

During the intense, three-hour firefight to claim the bridge, LewHew exposed himself to enemy fire multiple times.  One of his AAV’s was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and LeHew had to move to recover the nine dead or wounded Marines, all while enduring a steady barrage of enemy fire.

Marine Corp amphibious vehicle destroyed near Nasiriyah, Iraq – March 2003.

Both Bravo and Charlie companies went deeper into the city while Alpha stayed behind to secure the bridge.  Charlie, however, was quickly pinned down in an urban gun battle as it navigated through a dangerous part of the city called “Ambush Alley” by Army planners.

LeHew continued into the city streets, fighting through four hours of house to house, street to street close quarter combat, as he maintained and reinforced a defensive perimeter, repelling numerous waves of Saddam Fedayeen attackers, including directing tank and infantry fire.

Iraqi Type 69QM Tank destroyed near Nasiriyah.

Securing Nasiriyah would cost the Corps nearly eighteen Marines and seven AAVs.  Many casualties were the result of friendly fire from an Air Force A-10 that misread the Marines tracked amphibious vehicles for Iraqi armor.

Sgt. Maj. Justin D. Lehew speaks with students and faculty participating in the Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Academy Feb. 6 at the West Chapel on Camp Hansen regarding his personal experiences in the Marine Corps and how those in attendance can expand their knowledge of history and tradition. Lehew earned the Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat valor after the Medal of Honor, for his actions March 23-24, 2003 during the Battle of An-Nasiriyah.

LeHew’s awards include the Navy Cross, awarded in 2004, and the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor, earned while serving as first sergeant during the bloody battle in Najaf, Iraq.  On August 5th of 2004, LeHew and his Marines endured an attack from snipers, mortars, and machine gun fire by the Madhi militia.

The battle lasted for twenty-two days and involved plenty of danger for LeHew, who would on multiple occasions be forced to move about the battlefield under intense fire to motivate his Marines.  At Najaf, he offered his assistance in the treatment and evacuation of nine wounded Marines, while three were killed in action.

LeHew is presently assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion – East, at Walter Reed Bethesda, National Medical Military Centre in Maryland.  The Corps has him listed as a recovering service member.  According to Major Eric P. Gentrup, the executive officer for the Wounded Warrior Regiment, LeHew’s retirement will be held at the Assault Amphibian School at Camp Pendleton, California, and he will officially retire as of July 31st, 2018.

Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, outgoing regimental sergeant major, left, hands over the Noncommissioned Officers’ Sword to Col. Timothy Winand, commanding officer of 3rd Marine Regiment, during a relief and appointment ceremony at Dewey Square aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, 20 August 2013. Sgt. Maj. Vincent Santiago, incoming regimental sergeant major, relieved LeHew of his duties. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg/RELEASED)

During his career, Sergeant Major LeHew participated in combat operations in Operation Desert Storm, Operations Provide Promise and Deny Flight in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was also deployed in Okinawa, Japan, to provide support for the Unit Deployment Program there.  His final assignment was serving as the Sergeant Major at the Training and Education Command at Quantico, Virginia, which he assumed on the 29th of August, 2013.

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Couple Tripping On Bath Salts Mistakes Fireflies For Alien Lasers, Return Fire

H/T Bearing Arms.

Morons like Jessie Sheilds and Katherine McCloskey should not even have a peashooter let alone a firearm.

Some people are just stupid. I’d like to say they aren’t, but the facts are clear. Some people are just idiots who do stupid things.

For example, some people take bath salts despite the knowledge that this stuff actually makes people go nuts. They know this, do it anyway, then start tripping out and making a mess of things generally.

Kind of like this couple who illustrated precisely how not to be a gun owner.

A Pennsylvania man high on bath salts told police last week that he fired a gun at fireflies because he thought the glowing insects were “alien lasers,” authorities said.

Police said Jesse Shields and his girlfriend, Katherine McCloskey, believed the fireflies were “messing with them” and wanted to scare them off.

After firing the gun, Shields, along with McCloskey, ran away from the insects and broke into two homes, frightening the owners in Clinton County, Pennsylvania. Shields told the second homeowners that he was being attacked, and they needed to call 911, the Harrisburg Patriot News reported.

If this dynamic duo is are our best hope in the event of an alien invasion, we’re boned.

Besides, everyone knows an alien invasion will target Will Smith first. It’s only natural since he’s clearly the greatest thorn in the side of any alien threat. (See also: Independence Day, Men In Black movies)

Seriously, though, this should never have happened. Why anyone would do these bath salts is beyond me. At least this time, no one was hurt. That’s a solid win right there.

There’s no mention of how the guns were obtained, whether Shields and McCloskey had previous run-ins with the law or not, or anything else. If not, then the guns may have been perfectly legal at the time.

Of course, that’s probably not the case anymore. The two allegedly broke into homes. That’s a felon each, and that means no more guns for the rest of their lives, which I’m actually fine with. Anyone who does something like this deserves what happens.

To be clear, it’s bad enough that they discharged a firearm at what they somehow thought were “alien lasers.” It’s that they then put other people at risk in their delusional state that bothers me the most.

Truth be told, the pair are lucky they didn’t get shot themselves, which would have been perfectly justified. This happened in Pennsylvania, and that’s a state that doesn’t require people to retreat if they’re in their own homes. In other words, Shields and McCloskey could easily have been killed because of their state and the homeowners would have walked, as they should.

All because these two rocket scientists wanted to ingest a chemical that was known to alter people’s perception of reality to such a radical degree.

If that had happened, I know for a fact that I’d be unable to muster the least little bit of sympathy for either of these two. I don’t care what you do to your own body, but you’re responsible for the outcome of that. If that means you’re stupid and get your butt shot, that’s all on you.

However, they also discharged a firearm at something that wasn’t a threat, and I doubt they knew precisely what was beyond their targets, meaning they put others at risk.

I sincerely hope the prosecutor throws the proverbial book at them for this one.

How A Buyback Got Played With A Homemade Shotgun

H/T Bearing Arms.

These folks doing the gun buyback in San Franciso prove the old adage correct that a fool and his money are soon parted.

A buyback program in San Francisco is convinced it’s making the world safer for everyone. After all, they took a whole lot of guns off the street.

Now, often a buyback program gets a lot of non-functional guns that aren’t worth what’s being paid. They also get a few quality guns that someone doesn’t want anymore.

However, sometimes, they get played.

Police in San Francisco took in 187 weapons during a gun buy-back Saturday morning.

The four-hour event, hosted by United Playaz, yielded 57 pistols, 44 revolvers, 11 assault weapons and three shotguns. One of those shotguns was homemade.

Now, if you watch the video at the original post, you’ll see the homemade shotgun was little more than a piece of pipe attached to a piece of wood with wire ties. I’m not sure if there was anything internal to the gun, even. It had a pipe cap on the end where the breach would be. I don’t even see how to load the damn thing.

In other words, its greatest value as a weapon is probably serving as a poor excuse for a club.

See, what happens is that some will look at these buybacks, figure they have a quick way to make a buck, and will throw together these cheap “weapons” and make a tidy profit.

Meanwhile, the ignorant morons who are convinced this is a winning strategy get to hold this up as proof that guns are a serious problem and can be easily constructed in anyone’s backyard.

The buyback offered $100 for every handgun and $200 for every “assault rifle.” It’s not clear what they got for this “shotgun,” but if they only got handgun price, it’s still a nice little profit for little to no actual effort.

To make matters worse, it’s unlikely anyone even knew how to tell if that was an actual firearm or not. It was just vaguely gun-shaped, so they took it. No questions asked, right?

Frankly, buybacks are kind of asking for this. In addition to being great places to dump murder weapons, they’re all but begging for people to scam them with these gun-shaped objects. They make it clear they’ll take anything, so that’s what they do.

Then they turn around and pretend taking something like this off the streets was a great accomplishment.

In fairness, though, it might be. After all, a “weapon” like this could easily be used in crime almost as effectively as an actual firearm. A quick glance, fear, and loud orders could all create an environment where people don’t look too closely at the “weapon” being used.

Of course, a buyback isn’t going to stop much of that kind of action. After all, the person who made this “shotgun” now has more than enough money to make another and still have a nice dinner.

Nice job, San Francisco. Keep this up, and you’ll lift people out of poverty exclusively by scamming gun buyback programs. Keep this up, and people will soon be able to afford to live in the bay area.

13 Facts About Friday the 13th

H/T Mental Floss.

My grandfather would barely get out of bed on Friday the thirteenth.

There are plenty of superstitions out there, but none have woven themselves into the fabric of our culture quite like Friday the 13th. It’s inspired books, songs, and one of the most successful horror movie franchises of all time. But despite giving us anxiety, the origins of this notorious date on the calendar remain largely unknown to most. Where did it start? Does it really stretch back to the 14th century? And how does Loki figure into all of it?

There are a lot of urban legends and half-truths out there, so we’re diving a bit deeper into the history of this most terrifying of days with 13 facts about Friday the 1

1. THE BIBLE HELPED INSPIRE THE PHOBIA.

The Last Supper

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Part of superstition surrounding Friday the 13th comes from the Christian Bible. During the Last Supper, there were 13 guests—Jesus and his 12 apostles, one of which, Judas, would eventually betray him. Since then, some have believed in a superstition regarding 13 guests at a dinner table. This slowly extended to be an overall feeling that the number itself was bad luck.

Of course, when Jesus was crucified, it took place on a Friday, leading some to view the day with an anxious eye. Taken separately, both the number 13 and Friday have since made their way into modern superstitions.

2. SO DID LOKI.

Guided by Loki, Höðr shoots the mistletoe at Baldr.

Guided by Loki, Höðr shoots the mistletoe at Baldr.
WILHELM WÄGNER, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Last Supper is one view on the origins of our fear of 13. Another comes from Norse mythology—more specifically in the form of the trickster god Loki. In those stories, Loki tricked the blind god Höðr into killing his brother Baldr with a dart of mistletoe. Baldr’s mother, Frigg, had previously ordered everything in existence to never harm her son, except the mistletoe, which she viewed as incapable of harm.

How does 13 figure into this? Some accounts say Baldr’s death took place at a dinner held for 12 gods before it was interrupted by Loki—the 13th (and most unwanted) guest.

3. SOME POINT TO THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR AS THE DAY’S ORIGIN (BUT IT’S PROBABLY NOT).

Jacques de Molay, the 23rd and Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is lead to the stake to burn for heresy in 1314.

Jacques de Molay, the 23rd and Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is lead to the stake to burn for heresy in 1314.
HULTON ARCHIVE, GETTY IMAGES

Contrary to what The Da Vinci Code told you, the reason people fear Friday the 13th isn’t because of the Knights Templar. On the very unlucky Friday, October 13, 1307, Philip IV of France had members of the Templar arrested—growing uneasy with their power and covetous of their riches. There were trials, torture, and many of the Knights were burned at the stake, eventually leading to the superstition of Friday the 13th as a cursed and evil day.

That’s not quite true, though. This is a take that’s been drummed up in recent years, most visibly in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, but in reality, the unlucky combination of Friday and 13 didn’t appear until around the turn of the 20th century.

4. A 1907 NOVEL PLAYED A BIG PART IN CREATING THE SUPERSTITION.

Panic on 'Black Friday' in the New York Gold Room, 1869.

THREE LIONS, GETTY IMAGES

We know a good deal about the history of our fear of 13 and of Fridays, but combined? Well, that’s less clear. One popular thought, though, points to a 1907 book by a stockbroker named Thomas Lawson. Titled Friday, the Thirteenth, it tells the tale of a stockbroker who picks that particular day to manipulate the stock market and bring all of Wall Street down.

The book sold fairly well at the time, moving 28,000 copies in its first week. And it must have struck a chord with early 20th century society, as it’s said to have caused a real-life superstition among stockbrokers regarding trading and buying stocks on the 13th. While not the first to combine the dates, Lawson’s book is credited with popularizing the notion that Friday the 13th is bad news.

The fear among brokers was so real that in a 1923 New York Times article, it stated that people “would no more buy or sell a share of stock today than they would walk under a ladder or kick a black cat out of their path.”

5. STOCKBROKERS HAVE REASON TO BE NERVOUS.

The 1873 rush from the New York Stock Exchange as banks began to fail and close, leading to a 10-day closure of the Stock Exchange.

THREE LIONS, GETTY IMAGES

Lawson’s book was pure fiction, but the history of the stock market on Friday the 13th can be either profitable or absolutely terrifying, depending on the month. On most Friday the 13ths, stocks have actually risen—according to Time, they go up about 57 percent of the time, compared to the 52 percent on any other given date. However, if it’s a Friday the 13th in October … be warned.

There’s an average S&P drop of about 0.5 percent on those unlucky Fridays in October. And on Friday, October 13, 1989, the S&P actually saw a drop of 6.1 percent—to this day, it’s still referred to as a “mini crash.”

6. GOOD THINGS HAPPEN ON THAT DAY TOO, THOUGH! IT’S ALSO THE DAY HOLLYWOOD GOT ITS SIGN.

Hollywood sign on the hill

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On Friday, July 13, 1923, the United States got a brand new landmark as the famed Hollywood sign was officially christened as a promotional tool for a new housing development. But before the sign took on its familiar image, it initially read “Hollywoodland”—the full name of the development that was being built on the hills above Los Angeles. The signtook on its current “Hollywood” look in 1949 when, after two decades of disrepair, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided to remove the last four letters and just maintain the first nine.

7. APPROPRIATELY, IT’S THE DATE HEAVY METAL WAS BORN.

Cover of Black Sabbath album

VINYLMEISTER, FLICKR // CC BY-NC 2.0

This one isn’t exactly scientific, but don’t tell that to a metalhead. According to heavy metal lore, the genre was born Friday, February 13, 1970, with the UK release of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album. Bands like Steppenwolf had laid the foundation in the years before (Steppenwolf is also credited with coining the term “heavy metal” in their lyrics for 1968’s “Born to Be Wild“), but those first dissonant “Devil’s Tritone” chords of “Black Sabbath“—yes, the opening track of the album Black Sabbath by the band Black Sabbath was the song “Black Sabbath”—were the true birth of the dark, brooding, rocking subculture. Horns up.

8. THERE ARE SCIENTIFIC TERMS FOR THE PHOBIA.

Friday the 13th on a calendar

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Afraid of Friday the 13th? Well now you can put a name to your phobia. You likely already know the term triskaidekaphobia, which only applies to the fear of the number 13. But for specific fears of Friday the 13th, you can choose between paraskevidekatriaphobia (Paraskevi meaning Friday in Greek) or friggatriskaidekaphobia, based on the word Frigg, the Norse goddess that Friday was named after in English. (Remember, it was her son who Loki had killed …)

9. ONE INDIANA TOWN PUT BELLS ON EVERY BLACK CAT TO WARD OFF BAD LUCK.

Black cat wearing a bell.

DANILO URBINA, FLICKR // CC BY NC-ND 2.0

The folks of French Lick, Indiana (Larry Bird’s hometown) are apparently a superstitious lot. In the 1930s and extending into the ’40s, the town board decreed all black cats in the town were to wear a bell around their neck every Friday the 13th. Apparently, the confluence of two popular phobias was a bit too much for the small Indiana town to handle.

10. FIVE PRESIDENTS WERE PART OF A CLUB TO IMPROVE THE NUMBER’S REPUTATION.

old-fashioned formal dinner

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Some people aren’t just unaffected by the stigma of 13, they’re downright defiant of it. In order to prove that there was no curse on the number, Captain William Fowler—who had fought in 13 Civil War battles—started a club in 1882 that spat in the face of superstition.

Members would meet on the 13th of the month, at 13 past the hour, and sit 13 at a dining table. For some, this behavior was just begging for a hex, but these men didn’t care. They sought to disprove the myth and others along with it—open umbrellas lined the dining hall and members would willingly break glass, waiting for a so-called curse to befall them.

This wasn’t just a club for eccentrics, either. Five presidents would become honorary members of The Thirteen Club: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, Cleveland would take part while he was in office. In all, it’s said that no man was struck down by any particularly curious fate (except perhaps McKinley, who was assassinated), despite having so blatantly tempted it.

11. IN ITALY, PEOPLE FEAR FRIDAY THE 17TH.

number 17 on a wooden background

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Italy’s got the right idea, but they’re a few days off. Traditionally, their fear coincides with the number 17, which can be arranged as the sum of the Roman numerals VIXI, which can then, in turn, be translated as the Latin phrase “I have lived.” The overall superstition around Friday remains the same—it all has to do with Jesus’s crucifixion.

This is no niche phobia, though. As ThoughtCo. points out, there are people who refuse to leave the house or go to work on Friday the 17th out of fear of the ominous date. And the Italian airline Alitalia doesn’t even put a row 17 (or a 13) on its planes, as seen on this seat map [PDF].

12. THERE CAN’T BE MORE THAN THREE IN A GIVEN YEAR.

Calendar of 2015 with three Friday the 13ths

CALENDAR: ISTOCK. COLORING: MENTAL FLOSS.

There’s some good news if you’re one of those people who are genuinely afraid of Friday the 13th: There can’t be more than three in any given year, and it’s possible to go as many as 14 months without one. There’s an easy way to figure out if a month will have a Friday the 13th, too—if the month starts on a Sunday, you’re guaranteed one. For 2018, 2019, and 2020, we get a bit of a break, as each year will only have two. This year, only April and July are affected.

13. AN ASTEROID WILL COME RELATIVELY CLOSE TO US IN 2029.

asteroid projection image

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Let’s just get this out of the way: We’ll be fine. An asteroid will not collide with the Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029. We will, however, get a pretty spectacular look at asteroid 99942 Apophis (also known as 2004 MN4), which is about 320 meters wide and would be devastating if it did hit. When the asteroid was first discovered in 2004, astronomers gave it a haunting 1-in-60 chance of colliding with Earth, but extra data has proved that it’ll miss us entirely.

“We weren’t too worried,” Paul Chodas, of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, said, “but the odds were disturbing.”

That’s not to say the asteroid still won’t be a sight to behold: Apophis will cruise past Earth 18,600 miles above ground. “For comparison,” NASA wrote on its site, “geosynchronous satellites orbit at 22,300 miles.” The asteroid will be mostly visible in parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and another event of this nature may not be seen for another 1000 or so years.

Left-Wing Antifa Terrorists ‘Freaking Out’ over Proposed ‘Unmasking’ Law

H/T Breitbart’s Big Government.

Only cowards hide behind a mask and these thugs need to be exposed for the cowards they are.

 

The left-wing terrorist organization that calls itself Antifa is “freaking out” over a proposed law that would enhance penalties for anyone who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person” while wearing a disguise or mask.

Throughout our country, and for a number of years now — and primarily because the establishment media fantasizes about,  promotesenflames and  approves of the violence committed against the right (naturally, HuffPo opposes the unmasking law) — Antifa has been allowed to run rampant, committing countless acts of violence against everyday, peaceful supporters of President Donald Trump.

Antifa has also been responsible for untold amounts of vandalism and property damage, and targets the alt-right.

The  Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018 can mean additional fines and prison terms of up to 15 years. The Hill reports the “bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Dan Donovan (N.Y.) and is co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Pete King (R-NY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Ted Budd (R-NC).”

Ironically, this proposed law is similar to laws passed decades ago in states like Georgiaand Alabama to stop another terrorist group formed by far-left Democrats, the Ku Klux Klan. According to the far-left New York Times, Ohio and West Virginia already have similar laws on the books.

Unless it is Halloween, Mardi Gras, or some other kind of celebration, there is no legitimate reason to disguise who you are in public, unless you intend to do something illegal and do not wish to be identified.

And since our establishment media choose to encouragestokedismissfomentdownplay, and excuse harassment, violence and property damage against Trump supporters; since the media are normalizing and even making heroes of violent, left-wing thugs, it is important that law enforcement have all the tools necessary to stop this epidemic of lawlessness.

Nevertheless, people are still freaking out. Carmichael Monaco, a member of the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, a New York City-based activist group, told Vice Tuesday:

[The unmasking law] takes a pro-fascist stance in its very name, and doubtlessly in its enforcement. In the current political climate, antifascists who speak out against fascism, racism, xenophobia, etc. are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked by the far right, often supported by the police, who are notably exempted here. Families and friends of antifascists also become targets of far right violence. The wearing of a mask is an act of self-defense often necessary to ensure one’s right to free speech.

“It’s a law that threatens to clamp down on direct action politics more broadly. I think it sets a disturbing precedent,” Mark Bray, a professor at Dartmouth who studies human rights and radical politics told Vice.

No examples of Antifa being victims or targets are cited anywhere in the Vice piece. But…

Here are 352 (and counting) verified acts of violence and harassment against Trump supporters, much of it committed by Antifa terrorists wearing masks.

Sen. Chris Murphy: Brett Kavanaugh Is a ‘Second Amendment Radical’

H/T Breitbart’s Big Government.

I like the fact Sen.Chris Murphy(CT) thinks Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a Second Amendment Radical. 

Pres. Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Monday night and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) responded by calling him a “Second Amendment radical.”

Murphy tweeted:

Chris Murphy

@ChrisMurphyCT

Brett Kavanaugh is a true Second Amendment radical. He believes assault weapon bans are unconstitutional, a position way out of the judicial mainstream, far to the right of even late Justice Scalia.

Ironically, on December 8, 2015, Justices Clarence Thomas dissented SCOTUS’ refusal to hear a challenge to Highland Park, Illinois, “assault weapons” ban, contending that the commonly-owned rifles meet the threshold for Second Amendment protections. His dissent was joined by Justice Antonin Scalia.

The New York Times quoted Thomas: “Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles. The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

Again, Scalia joined Thomas in dissent.

On May 20, 2018, Breitbart News reported that Sen. Murphy called for an “assault weapons” ban in reaction to the May 18 Sante Fe High School shooting. The attacker in that incident used a revolver and a shotgun.

Brett Kavanaugh’s View on the Second Amendment

H/T The Washington Free Beacon.

I think Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court will be a great asset for the Second Amendment and gun owners.

Trump’s Supreme Court pick says ‘text, history, and tradition’ key to determining the constitutionality of gun laws.

Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has ruled on a number of gun-related cases in his time on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including a written opinion that comprehensively explains his approach to determining whether or not gun laws are constitutional.

Kavanaugh was involved at several points in the years-long fight over Washington, D.C., gun carry laws. In September 2015, he dissented in the appeals court’s decision to stay a lower court ruling striking down the city’s restrictive gun-carry law. In Grace v. D.C., he indicated that he believed the city’s law should not be reinstated while the case continued to play out in federal court. In September 2017, Kavanaugh was among the judges who rejected a request for a full panel hearing in the same case, leaving the decision striking down the restrictive “good reason” clause in place.

Before those cases, Kavanaugh was involved in another gun-rights case, in which he wrote a detailed account of how he views the landmark Heller and MacDonald precedents affirming that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. In that 2011 case, Dick Heller again challenged D.C.’s gun laws. This time he argued that the city’s ban on many semiautomatic firearms, including the popular AR-15 rifle, and their restrictive firearm registration system were unconstitutional. The majority ruled against him.

Kavanaugh, however, dissented from the majority and agreed with Heller.

“In my judgment, both D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller,” he wrote. “In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns—the vast majority of which today are semiautomatic—are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semiautomatic handguns and semiautomatic rifles. Semiautomatic rifles, like semiautomatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.”

“Moreover, semiautomatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semiautomatic rifles are. It follows from Heller‘s protection of semiautomatic handguns that semiautomatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional. (By contrast, fully automatic weapons, also known as machine guns, have traditionally been banned and may continue to be banned after Heller.)”

“D.C.’s registration requirement, which is significantly more stringent than any other federal or state gun law in the United States, is likewise unconstitutional. Heller and later McDonald said that regulations on the sale, possession, or use of guns are permissible if they are within the class of traditional, ‘longstanding’ gun regulations in the United States. Registration of all lawfully possessed guns—as distinct from licensing of gun owners or mandatory recordkeeping by gun sellers—has not traditionally been required in the United States and even today remains highly unusual. Under Heller’s history- and tradition-based test, D.C.’s registration requirement is therefore unconstitutional.”

After analyzing the city’s ban on certain semiautomatic rifles and its registration requirements, Kavanaugh turned his focus to explaining what standard he believes the Supreme Court’s Heller and MacDonald precedents demand. He argued at length that the High Court requires a “text, history, and tradition” test rather than any sort of analysis that balances government interests against constitutional rights.

“In my view, Heller and McDonald leave little doubt that courts are to assess gun bans and regulations based on text, history, and tradition, not by a balancing test such as strict or intermediate scrutiny,” he wrote. “To be sure, the Court never said something as succinct as ‘Courts should not apply strict or intermediate scrutiny but should instead look to text, history, and tradition to define the scope of the right and assess gun bans and regulations.’ But that is the clear message I take away from the Court’s holdings and reasoning in the two cases.”

He addressed a number of critiques of the test in his opinion including what to do about regulation of firearms that did not exist when the Second Amendment was first adopted. He argued that constitutional principles do not change because technology advances. Instead, he said, those same principles should continue to be applied to gun laws like they are to other areas of law affected by the passage of time.

“When legislatures seek to address new weapons that have not traditionally existed or to impose new gun regulations because of conditions that have not traditionally existed, there obviously will not be a history or tradition of banning such weapons or imposing such regulations,” Kavanaugh wrote. “That does not mean the Second Amendment does not apply to those weapons or in those circumstances. Nor does it mean that the government is powerless to address those new weapons or modern circumstances. Rather, in such cases, the proper interpretive approach is to reason by analogy from history and tradition.

“The Constitution is an enduring document, and its principles were designed to, and do, apply to modern conditions and developments. The constitutional principles do not change (absent amendment), but the relevant principles must be faithfully applied not only to circumstances as they existed in 1787, 1791, and 1868, for example, but also to modern situations that were unknown to the Constitution’s Framers. To be sure, applying constitutional principles to novel modern conditions can be difficult and leave close questions at the margins. But that is hardly unique to the Second Amendment. It is an essential component of judicial decision making under our enduring Constitution.”

Kavanaugh said the “text, history, and tradition” test is not necessarily the most stringent possible test for gun laws and may actually allow longstanding gun laws to remain in tact where other tests may strike them down.”

“The Court in Heller affirmatively approved a slew of gun laws—machine-gun bans, concealed-carry laws, felon-in-possession laws, and the like—without analyzing them under strict scrutiny,” he wrote “The Court approved them based on a history- and tradition-based test, not strict scrutiny. Indeed, these laws might not have passed muster under a strict scrutiny analysis.”

While Kavanaugh’s opinion in the 2011 Heller case is detailed on the matter of how the Supreme Court’s gun-rights precedent ought to be applied and has, in large part, earned him the endorsement of the leading gun-rights groups, it isn’t a guarantee that Kavanaugh will bring the same point of view to the High Court where he will sometimes be setting precedents instead of always abiding by them. In his opinion, Kavanaugh notes that “our task as a lower court here is narrow and constrained by precedent.” He went on to say that, as a longtime resident of D.C., he wasn’t convinced that gun registration and regulation are necessarily bad policy.

“This is a case where emotions run high on both sides of the policy issue because of the vital public safety interests at stake,” he said. “As one who was born here, grew up in this community in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and has lived and worked in this area almost all of his life, I am acutely aware of the gun, drug, and gang violence that has plagued all of us. As a citizen, I certainly share the goal of Police Chief Cathy Lanier to reduce and hopefully eliminate the senseless violence that has persisted for too long and harmed so many. And I greatly respect the motivation behind the D.C. gun laws at issue in this case. So, my view on how to analyze the constitutional question here under the relevant Supreme Court precedents is not to say that I think certain gun registration laws or laws regulating semiautomatic guns are necessarily a bad idea as a matter of policy. If our job were to decree what we think is the best policy, I would carefully consider the issues through that different lens and might well look favorably upon certain regulations of this kind.”

Kavanaugh said, however, that fidelity to the Constitution and the highest court in the land are more important than how he feels about any given policy.

“But our task is to apply the Constitution and the precedents of the Supreme Court, regardless of whether the result is one we agree with as a matter of first principles or policy,” Kavanaugh said.

 

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