Wednesday, January 18, 2023

If SCOTUS Had Its Way, Countless Michigan Jews Would Be Dead By Now

A Dearborn, Michigan man was indicted on gun charges stemming from an alleged plot to attack a Michigan synagogue. The suspect, Hassan Chokr, was blocked from purchasing a shotgun, rifle, and semiautomatic pistol following the conclusion of a background check, and federal prosecutors said that in his attempt to purchase a gun Chokr made "three false statements, any one of which would prohibit him from possessing a firearm." Those statements were denials that Chokr
  1. Had ever been convicted of a felony;
  2. Had currently pending charges of a felony; and
  3. Had ever been committed to a mental institution.
Presumably, the background check revealed the existence of one or more of these flags in Chokr's record, thus preventing the purchase and likely averting a tragedy.

Given that, it's worth noting that all three of these bases for denying someone a gun purchase are currently on thin ice following the Supreme Court's Bruen decision, which radically circumscribed the government's ability to place limits on American's right to gun ownership.

On the first, the Third Circuit is in the process of reconsidering its earlier ruling that non-violent felons can be excluded from gun ownership (Chokr's conviction related to theft relating to a financial device such as a credit card, and so likely would be viewed as a non-violent felony).

And on the third, prominent gun advocates like Eugene Volokh have aggressively challenged whether a per se bar on gun possession by persons who have been committed to a mental institution is constitutional.

In short, it is entirely plausible that the federal judiciary, following the Supreme Court's lead in Bruen, will conclude that all the failsafes that successfully prevented Hassan Chokr from purchasing guns he would have likely used to massacre Michigan Jews are unconstitutional and must be stripped from the books. It's not guaranteed -- while Bruen's language is expansive to the extreme, nobody knows how far the Supreme Court's nerve will go when push comes to shove -- but none of these objections can dismissed out of hand given Bruen's radical reinvention of Second Amendment doctrine.

Certainly, the Court has been crystal clear that the essential liberties of the Second Amendment are far more important than the countless lives its jurisprudence puts at risk. You know what they say: the tree of liberty must periodically be watered with the blood of tyrants innocent Jews.

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