The Supreme Court is set to consider a case that cuts at the very heart of the National Firearms Act (NFA). In question is Federal overreach as championed by former president Barack Obama.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) petitioned the court on behalf of Jeremy Kettler, a disabled combat veteran convicted for violating the National Firearms Act when he rightly followed a Kansas state law.
The Obama Justice Department brought criminal felony charges against Kettler even though his unregistered firearm suppressor was protected by the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act.
In 2014, Kettler purchased a suppressor from a local military surplus store and did not register it under the National Firearms Act (NFA). Since Kettler believed he was following the law, the young veteran posted a video of his new suppressor on Facebook.
Rather than informing Kettler that his action was in violation of the NFA, the Justice Department under former Attorney General Eric Holder brought felony charges against Kettler.
The GOA contends Obama’s Justice Department took such a drastic step to “make an example of Jeremy, and to intimidate all who resist federal power over guns.”
Kettler was convicted on the NFA charges and the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals later rejected his defense. This set up a gun rights showdown in the Supreme Court.
GOA’s litigating arm, Gun Owners Foundation (GOF), filed a petition for a writ of certiorari upon the 10th’s decision and has stood by him all the way to the highest court of the land.
Kettler’s petition challenges the NFA passed in 1934, and questions the Supreme Court’s upholding of the law in 1937. The court at that time upheld the law based on the constitutional power of Congress to “lay and collect taxes.”
GOF notes in the petition that none of the reasons the Supreme Court of 1937 gave for upholding the law apply to today. Instead, it contends the NFA is an “unabashed gun control regulatory scheme” intended not to raise revenue for the federal government, but to “keep NFA items out of the hands of Americans.”
Kettler’s petition also argues that if the Supreme Court continues to uphold the NFA, it is allowing Congress to do something the Supreme Court has long deemed to be unconstitutional – impose a tax on a constitutionally protected right.
Since the Court’s Heller decision in 2008, lower courts have found numerous ways to avoid applying that ruling in ways that might invalidate infringements of protected rights. This has allowed such actions against Second Amendment rights as seen in the Kettler case.
Fifth Circuit Judge Don Willett once said that the Second Amendment is “the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bill of Rights.” Echoing that sentiment Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski recently noted, “[the] time has come to treat the Second Amendment as a real constitutional right. It’s here to stay.”
Our current high court has allowed too many Second Amendment challenges to go unanswered. So much so that some justices called this a “distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”
Jeremey Kettler’s petition looks to offer the most solid grounds yet for overruling the decisions or lack of decisions by previous courts.
The State Attorney General of Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas have joined Kansas in stating they have a “strong interest in protecting their citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.”
Most compelling is that Kansas citizens “overwhelmingly voted to amend the State’s Constitution to reaffirm that an individual has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, home, and state …”
The 10th Circuit Court’s conclusion that firearm accessories, such as suppressors, are excluded from Second Amendment protection is, according to the GOF, an “unsupported conclusion.”
The 46-page petition to SCOTUS contends the NFA is unconstitutional and is a “money-losing tax that produces no revenue for the government while effectively criminalizing the devices it controls.”
In effect, this is not about tax collection but rather gun control. As the filing points out, the $200 ‘tax’ is just the hook by which the government continues to claim that the NFA is a tax, instead of what it so obviously has become — unconstitutional gun control.”
Much like another Obama/Holder fiasco — Fast and Furious — the feds move to prosecute Jeremy Kettler was yet another end around to circumvent our Bill of Rights.