June 14, 2023
A federal judge has denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit challenging Washington’s ban on many semi-automatic firearms commonly used by lawful Americans. The new law makes the sale, import and transfer of 60 named firearms illegal along with AK-47 and AR-15 rifles in “all forms.” In the lawsuit Hartford v. Ferguson, plaintiffs argue that the blanket ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Second Amendment ‘protects the possession and use of weapons that are in common use at the time,’” the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction stated. “The banned firearms certainly qualify for protection under this standard. They include the most popular rifles in the country and estimates suggest there are tens of millions in the United States today. As such, there is no possible justification for Washington’s unconstitutional ban.”
On June 6, however, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington denied the motion without prejudice.
“Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of the motion nor have they raised a serious question on the merits tipping the balance of hardships in Plaintiffs’ favor,” Judge Bryan wrote for the court. “They have not pointed to irreparable harm if an injunction does not issue, that the balance of equities tips in their favor, or that public interest favors a preliminary injunction. Issues raised in this opinion cannot be resolved on a motion for preliminary injunction.”
Amazingly, with the first semi-automatic firearm made in the late 1800s—and the AR-15 introduced to the public in the 1960s—in the decision, Judge Bryan somehow maintains this kind of firearm is “new” technology.
“Semiautomatic assault weapons represent a significant technological change—they allow a shooter to fire as fast as they can pull the trigger, unlike previous guns,” Judge Bryan wrote.
At 89 years of age, Judge Bryan is about 50 years younger than the first semi-auto action. Interestingly, Judge Bryan was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan all the way back in 1986. And if it surprises you that a Reagan appointee would make such a bad decision in a Second Amendment case, it shouldn’t. While a hero to many conservatives, Reagan wasn’t a big friend of the Second Amendment or American gun owners. Famous for his saying that “Freedom is a fragile thing and it's never more than one generation away from extinction,” his actions toward the Second Amendment didn’t always reflect that urgency.
Sorry to Break the News, but Reagan was Anti-2A
While governor of California, Reagan supported gun control including firearms registration, a ban on the carrying of firearms in the open, and in vehicles, in public places (Mulford Act), and stated the following regarding concealed carry, “There is no reason why, on the street today, a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” and “[Guns are a] ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.”
The conservative “legend” signed the ban on future machine-gun production ownership for civilians in 1986. Shortly thereafter, in February 1989 and only a few weeks after the Patrick Purdy mass shooting, Reagan publicly stated that semi-automatic rifles, like the “AK-47”, should be banned. A month after this statement, Reagan stated that he supported President H.W. Bush’s “assault weapons” import ban (which is still in effect today).
Reagan’s attack on the Second Amendment continued into the 1990s. In 1994, he pushed for a domestic “assault weapons” and “hi-capacity” magazine ban and urged all fellow Republicans in Congress, by sending them a personal letter, to pass the bans and the Brady Bill. The letter, signed by Reagan, former President Jimmy Carter and former President Gerald Ford, stated: “This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.” Important to note, it was President Trump’s “best people”, William Barr, who drafted, and publicly supported, the domestic “assault weapons” and magazine ban in the early 1990s as part of Bush’s Crime Bill. When Bush lost reelection, it became part of President Clinton’s 10-year infringement.
Unfortunately, many Republicans followed Reagan’s marching orders…unfortunately. Despite the denial of the preliminary injunction, the Washington AWB lawsuit will continue to be litigated in district court. We’ll keep you updated on further actions in the case.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.
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