The Second Amendment Foundation has notched another victory in its ongoing fight against local gun restrictions that violate the U.S. Constitution with a permanent injunction against the Warren County, Ill., Housing Authority's ban on the possession of firearms by residents or guests.
The case is just the latest is a long string of victories by SAF, which played a key role in the landmark McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court decision that determined the Second Amendment applies to individual states.
SAF also has funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans; Chicago; and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners.
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The Illinois case was filed by SAF more than a year ago in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Rock Island Division.
Ronald G. Winbigler, a resident of Costello Terrace in Monmouth, is a physically disabled former police officer who wanted to keep a handgun in his residence for personal protection.
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SAF attorney David Sigale noted: "People do not lose their Second Amendment rights just because they are of limited means. It is an indignity to make the waiver of constitutional rights a condition of government-subsidized housing."
SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb was delighted with the ruling.
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"We brought this case because it was unconscionable," Gottlieb said, "in the wake of our victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago that a public entity in Illinois would engage in this kind of discrimination against a citizen. The WCHA has removed the lease provisions and agreed that they were unconstitutional."
Gottlieb said public housing "is the last place one would expect to encounter residency provisions that run counter to the Bill of Rights."
"We're delighted that this issue has been resolved to the benefit of Mr. Winbigler and citizens like him," he said.
WND recently also reported the latest embarrassment documented by SAF for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns."
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The group was revealed last fall to include a long list of mayors who, because of their criminal convictions, were no longer eligible to own weapons themselves.
Now another embarrassment has surfaced for the organization.
According to a report from SAF, Mayor James Schiliro, of Marcus Hook, Pa., now is facing a long list of charges for allegedly trying to force an underage boy to perform sex acts and then firing one of three handguns he grabbed at a wall when the boy refused.
"Mayor Schiliro is one more example of why we started the 'Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors' campaign," said Gottlieb, the organization's executive director.
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"He joins recently convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and recently indicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, both of whom were MAIG members."
SAF launched its campaign last fall, and "the list keeps growing," Gottlieb said.
"Schiliro's case is not only bad, but bizarre," Gottlieb explained. "He's been charged with false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, serving alcohol to a minor and other crimes, and he also allegedly used more than one gun in this incident, in which at least one shot was fired.
"The allegations against Schiliro creeped me out. With associates like this, I can understand why Bloomberg doesn't trust people with guns," Gottlieb said.
"According to published reports, Schiliro's attorney says the mayor has sold his guns and entered alcoholism treatment, but this doesn't get any traction with me. If the charges against this guy are proven in court, he deserves to have the book thrown at him, same as Mayor Bloomberg would demand if any other gun owner did what police and prosecutors think Schiliro did.
"It is amusing," Gottlieb added, "that Schiliro – who signed an infamous letter to the U.S. Senate with 600 other mayors – has suddenly disappeared from the MAIG roster on that group's website.
"Mayor Bloomberg should be more interested in the conduct of MAIG members than trying to pry into the personal lives of gun owners or soda drinkers," he stated. "If anybody needs a background check, it would be a MAIG member."
WND reported earlier on SAF's original campaign about Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns, set up in 2006 by Bloomberg.
"Michael Bloomberg created this group to further his personal agenda of public disarmament," Gottlieb explained at the time. "But within the ranks of his organization, our research has found several politicians who have been convicted of various serious crimes, thus making it impossible for them to finish their terms.
"We discovered," he said, "one mayor convicted of perjury and embezzlement, another who was convicted of attempted child molestation, and yet another who was convicted of assault and racketeering. There was one who was convicted on bribery, fraud and money laundering, and another who was convicted of domestic violence.
"In short," Gottlieb said, "many of these elitist politicians can no longer own firearms. The crimes they were convicted of suggest they are public enemies rather than public servants. No wonder they want to take guns from law-abiding citizens!"
On April 25, 2006, 15 mayors worked with Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to establish the organization to restrict guns.
The group said it wanted to make cities safer by cracking down on illegal guns, because mayors "have a responsibility to protect their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable."
They want trace data for law enforcement efforts and want lawmakers to fix gaps and loopholes in laws "that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns."
The group boasts that it has grown to more than 725 mayors in 40 states.
But SAF is publicizing mayors who have run into their own troubles.
It launched its campaign in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet, highlighting the criminal and ethical wrongdoings of many of the mayors themselves.
Gottlieb reported the research conducted by the foundation found "a far higher rate of criminal activity within the ranks of the MAIG than among the ranks of more than 8 million citizens who are licensed to carry concealed firearms in 49 states."
"While Michael Bloomberg has been campaigning to turn gun owners into criminals," Gottlieb said, "the criminals in his own ranks were engaged in such activities as tax evasion, extortion, accepting bribes, child pornography, trademark counterfeiting and perjury. One was even convicted of assaulting a police officer.
"And these people have the audacity to smear law-abiding gun owners as potential criminals, simply because they exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms," he concluded. "He should pay more attention to what his friends are up to than worry about the gun owners he's been trying to demonize."
The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation's oldest and biggest group to focus on the constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, the foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters.
Other cases SAF has handled recently:
- The group won a fight for a preliminary injunction against a New Mexico regulation. The injunction was handed down by District Judge M. Christina Armijo, who took action in the case of John Jackson, a permanent legal resident alien who could not obtain a concealed carry permit in the state.
- The organization also requested injunctive relief in a related case in Nebraska. There, non-citizens legally living in the state are prohibited from obtaining a concealed carry permit.
- Alameda County, Calif., recently changed the rules as three businessmen were trying to open a gun shop. The foundation successfully sued the county for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of three businessmen by wrongfully denying them permits to open a gun shop.
- SAF sued the state of California over a "vague" gun ban over a case in which a man twice was jailed and then cleared. The focal point is the definition of an "assault weapon." The statute's definition of weapons is so "vague and ambiguous," the group contends, that one man was arrested on two different occasions for violations but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. "It's an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute," said Gottlieb, "but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage."
- In New York, the organization has asked for a summary judgment that would strike New York City's $340 triennial fee for just owning a handgun. The legal brief explains that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings "the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense is a part of the 'core' of the Second Amendment's protections." The case, brought by SAF, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and individuals including an electrical contractor, a paramedic, CPA and woodworker, argues, "The city's $340 fee is inherently prohibitive and serves the impermissible purpose of discouraging the exercise of constitutional rights. While the city can charge a nominal fee to defray costs, the $340 fee is not nominal, and has never been calculated to defray costs."
- The organization has sued New Jersey and officials and judges over procedures that allowed them to refuse firearms permits for a kidnap victim, a man who carries large amounts of cash for his business and a civilian FBI employee who fears attacks from radical Islamists. The permissions were denied on the grounds people had not shown a "justifiable need." "Law-abiding New Jersey citizens have been arbitrarily deprived of their ability to defend themselves and their families for years under the state's horribly crafted laws," said an SAF spokesman. "The law grants uncontrolled discretion to police chiefs and other public officials to deny license applications even in cases where the applicant has shown a clear and present danger exists."
- The SAF filed a case on behalf of an honorably discharged veteran from the Vietnam War and names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Jefferson Wayne Schrader. The question is whether the state of Maryland can deprive an individual of the right to possess a weapon over a misdemeanor. Schrader had been convicted of misdemeanor assault relating to a fight involving a man who previously had assaulted him in Annapolis. But he was denied the opportunity to receive a shotgun as a gift or to purchase a handgun for personal protection.
- SAF filed a claim against Maryland for a man who alleged the state was violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit. Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard's permit was renewed in 2005 after the defendant in the case was released from prison. But state officials later refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
- SAF sued Westchester County, N.Y., because officials there were requiring that residents have a "good cause" to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to "keep and bear arms." Individual plaintiffs in the case are Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.