Papers from President George W. Bush Library on “Support of Post-Heller Litigation”

June 6th, 2015

Sarah Gervase, who is an NRA Assistant General Counsel, with thanks to Dave Hardy, shared a page from the George W. Bush Library concerning the Administration’s policies following District of Columbia v. Heller. The document comes from the collection of Ryan W. Bounds, who was the Special Assistant to the President, Domestic Policy Council from 2008-2009. You can find the record for Bounds here. This page is listed under “DC Gun Bill.”

There are seven documents listed:

  • Document No. 1 Report – DOJ Comments on HR 6691 (6 pages). This bill, which was introduced on 7/31/2008, but died in the House Judiciary Committee, would have repealed D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic weapons, repealed the registration requirement, repealed the handgun ammunition ban, and authorized purchase of firearms by D.C. residents.
  • Document No. 3 Memorandum – DC Firearms Legislation – To: Deputies – From: Ryan Bounds and Ryan Smith (3 pages, 8/27/08).
  • Document No. 4 Memorandum – Interior Firearms Regulations – To: Deputies – From: Ryan Smith (3 pages, 10/8/2008). I think this memo concerns a 2008 rulemaking by the Department of the Interior that allowed people to carry a concealed weapon in a national park if the person was authorized to carry in the state in which the park is located. A press release concerning the Interior rule is available here.
  • Doucment No. 11 Report – DOJ Comments on H. Res. 1331 (2 pages). H. Res. 1331 was the Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which was introduced on 7/10/2008. The text (at quick glance) is identical to HR 6691.
  • Document No. 13 Report: Options for Administration Support of Post-Heller Litigation (2 pages).
  • Document No. 14 Report: Options for Administration Support of Post-Heller Litigation (2 pages).
  • Document No. 15 Report: Options for Administration Support of Post-Heller Litigation (2 pages). It is possible the last three documents are identical based on the title. No dates are provided,

All of the documents were withheld under P-5 of the Presidential Records Act, which provides “Release would disclose confidential advice between the president and his advisors, or between such advisors [(a)(5) of the PRA].”

As Adam Winkler discusses in his excellent book Gunfight, there were massive internal debates within the White House concerning Heller. Ultimately Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that the Court should apply some form of intermediate scrutiny for Second Amendment cases, while Vice President Cheney joined an amicus brief arguing that the D.C. Ban should be overturned. I would love to find out what memos exist concerning this question. Everything in this page concerns post-Heller developments.