Meet The Guy Behind the Supreme Court Gun Case
In January, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. The case involves a Second Amendment challenge to a local ordinance prohibiting licensees from transporting their firearms outside the city. [Licensees can take (unloaded and locked) firearms and ammo to seven different licensed shooting ranges in the city]. It’s the first time since 2010 (McDonald v. City of Chicago) the Court has accepted a major gun case.
Although NYSRPA v. NYC involves a narrowly-tailored gun regulation, there is a tremendous amount at stake. The NRA spent $1 million to confirm serial perjurer Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court because they believe he will provide the decisive fifth vote for additional activist rulings on the Second Amendment by the Court’s conservative wing. Save a last-minute rescue by Chief Justice John Roberts, a majority opinion in NYSRPA v. NYC will almost certainly have negative implications for gun laws nationwide.
The case attracted significant media attention when the Supreme Court agreed to hear it, but little if anything has been said about the NRA lobbyist behind it. Tom King runs the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association. He also sits on the NRA’s national board of directors. King lobbies for regressive gun laws on behalf of both organizations: for NYSRPA at the NY state capitol in Albany and for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) at the federal Congress in Washington. D.C.
King’s dual hats inform his interests as petitioner in NYSRPA v. NYC. While I’m sure he would like to see the gun transport ordinance at the center of the case go away (King was outraged that licensees were being arrested while trying to fly out of NYC with their guns), he has his sights set on bigger game. King was recently elected to a new 3-year term on the NRA board for promoting the idea that the Second Amendment gives an American citizen the “right to keep and bear the firearm of his choice wherever and whenever he chooses.” There is little doubt that he wants the Supreme Court to move in this direction in NYSRPA v. NYC by declaring an expansive, new, individual right to carry guns in public. King and NYSRPA have already brought multiple (unsuccessful) lawsuits to repeal New York’s “May-Issue” system for concealed carry permitting, which gives law enforcement discretion to deny permits to violent applicants.
NRA leaders are also hoping to see a conservative majority in NYSRPA v. NYC espouse a “strict scrutiny” standard for the legal review of gun laws. An article at the NRA-ILA website defines that standard as follows:
What strict scrutiny does is ensure that when [a gun law] goes before a court on a constitutional challenge, the state is held to the highest standards of justification for its actions. And even if the state can substantiate a compelling reason for its law, it still has to structure the law in the most narrowly-tailored way possible to achieve that objective. The result is that shoddy exercises in political grandstanding — which defines most of the gun control agenda — will not pass muster.
Motivations aside, it’s understandable the NRA would want to downplay King’s (and its own) involvement in the case. King has a long history of racist, misogynist and otherwise radical rhetoric. He has embraced Birtherism, spread conspiracy theories about discarded Korans being found near the U.S.-Mexico border, bragged about upstate New Yorkers’ “proclivity for blood sports,” defended a white supremacist who threatened gun violence survivor Carolyn McCarthy when she served in Congress, warned the NY state legislature that any major gun control legislation after the SAFE Act would “tip people over the edge,” and opined the Sandy Hook shooter could have killed just as many people with a single-shot rifle — as opposed to a semiautomatic rifle equipped with high-capacity ammunition magazines.
In a universe of venomous lobbyists who have worked for the NRA, King stands out. He has routinely blamed all gun violence in America on “unemployment, children growing up in single parent homes and gang violence.” King once posted a blog about his discomfort with lobbying in Albany, titled “Loosely Organized Young Men and Women”:
Have you noticed the increase in this activity lately. Must be a lot of competitive neighborhood groups competing for the lucrative corners to sell Kool Aid. Ask the kids better yet ask the residents of those neighborhoods; they will tell you what is really happening. That will not happen it is easier to blame the gun rather than the real cause of violence in Albany. Any news on the Common Council’s picks for the Gang oops… I meant Gun Violence Task Force?
After the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. and 880 other locations on March 24, 2018, King accused the hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students who participated of being paid actors who lacked even a basic education in civics:
Where is the money coming to support these [MFOL events]? Because you know all of these students don’t have the money to get where they’re going to go. Who paid for the buses? … If you talked to the rank and file people that were out there [on March 24] they had no idea what they were there for. They had no idea what an assault weapon was. They didn’t know what the Second Amendment was. Most of them didn’t know what the Constitution was. So you have to be suspect about how this many people got together and who was paying for it.
On the topic of women, King once posted a status message to his Facebook feed that asked: “How to find out if yor [sic] spouse or your dog loves you more? Lock them both in the car trunk for one hour and, when you open it, see which one is glad to see you.” When someone inquired how that was working for him, King responded, “The dog is still happy to see me.”
And so on…
The American public already sees Brett Kavanaugh as a political judge because of his angry condemnation of Democrats past and present during his confirmation hearings. An activist Supreme Court ruling on behalf of the NRA and troglodyte Tom King in a case involving a minor regulation in a major city with very little gun violence should automatically be viewed as suspect. No American should be exposed to additional danger in public because local and state law enforcement are blocked from denying carry permits to violent Americans. Certainly not on behalf of these base men.