Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has quietly joined two friend-of-the-court briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a pair of lower-court rulings restricting access to guns.

How quietly? A Feb. 20 release from Yost’s office about the legal moves led by Republican officials only was given to the pro-gun Buckeye Firearms Association, which published it verbatim on its website.

The document, marked for “immediate release” and identical to other public statements issued by Yost’s office, was not shared with reporters and thus, the general public.

Asked why the 12-paragraph release was not issued publicly, Yost spokesman Dave O’Neil replied, “We submitted content for their newsletter in a release format ... The (court) briefs mentioned in the (Buckeye Firearms) newsletter article are public and have been public since Jan. 18 and Feb. 4, respectively.”

The issue of when an attorney general commits the state of Ohio to join out-of-state cases has been controversial for years. Yost’s predecessor, now-Gov. Mike DeWine, joined actions against Obamacare and abortion rights.

Just last week, Yost said he refused to join several attorneys general in a primarily Democratic challenge of President Donald Trump’s “emergency” declaration to fund the border wall billions beyond what Congress approved.

In the release, Yost said he and other state officials want the justices to “devise clear limits on state laws that inhibit exercise of the right to keep and bear arms.”

Yost was quoted in the release: “Americans shouldn’t have to prove to the government that they ‘need’ to exercise their right to freedom of speech — or any other constitutional right, including the Second Amendment.

“And they can’t exercise their right to keep and bear arms if a state prohibits them from acquiring arms in the first place.”

Yost’s release said he joined 21 other attorneys general and governors in filing a brief in a New Jersey case contesting a law requiring those seeking to carry a handgun outside of their home or business to show a “justifiable need” and “special danger” to receive the permit.

Courts have declared that the New Jersey law requires an applicant to “specify in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks” that cannot otherwise be side-stepped but with the issuance of a gun permit. The law has been upheld by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the other case, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California law that opponents say effectively prohibits the sale of modern handguns by requiring they include technology to “microstamp” unique markings on ejected shell casings to allow the gun to be identified.

No such technology is commercially available, thus effectively banning the sale of all semi-automatic handguns made since 2013, Yost’s release said. His office joined 19 state attorneys general and governors in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The Buckeye Firearms Association, the only group to receive Yost’s release, endorsed the Republican for election as attorney general last year, as did the National Rifle Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.


Article can be found here:

https://www.dispatch.com/news/201902...firearms-group