Riding Shotgun With Charlie
Daniel Schmutter, Esq.
Hartman & Winnicki
Daniel Schmutter is an attorney in New Jersey. We ran into each other at NJSAFECON back in 2017. And certainly at GRPC over the last few years. I’ve heard Daniel on the Gun For Hire podcast for years and I finally had a chance to have him in the passenger’s seat. But I do have to thank John Petrolino (Bearing Arms, Ammoland/ Decoding Firearms) as he made the connection to get Daniel and I together. We covered many topics, from him getting into the 2A as a lawyer, to bringing a knife into court, and talking about liberty, which came up often.
Daniel grew up in the Bronx, NYC, in an anti-gun family. He didn’t have a chance to go shooting until he was in law school and took a course with the rifle & pistol team with a law school roommate He became a firearm owner in 1993 in New Jersey. In 2002, he wrote an op/ed for the Star Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, against the ‘smart guns’ then was contacted by Scott Bach, who is the current executive director of the Association New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), wondering why Scott didn’t know Daniel. That was his introduction into the gun rights movement.
Daniel got involved in Second Amendment law during 2003 with the Silveira v Lockyer case, which predates Heller. It was out of California and was a challenge to the state’s ‘assault weapon law’. The case didn’t make it to the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). It’s a good thing because it wasn’t a good vehicle so it might not have brought out the right outcome from the case.
We really get into how the SCOTUS decides how to accept cases and what makes a good SCOTUS case. He does a great job explaining some of the terms used. And he shares that he’s written a number of briefs and friends of the court arguments all the way up to the Heller case. He’s also worked with just about every 2A group from ANJRPC, NRA, SAF, FPC, and others.
We get into some work that Daniel did with Knife Rights and Doug Ritter. He’s got a fun story about bringing knives into court as an exhibit and how he and Doug were trying to prove that “gravity knives” are subjective to whomever owns them and there isn’t a standard for those style knives. He also points out some of the knife laws in NYC.
We also get into why it’s beneficial for us to take our non-gun friends to the range and teach them about firearms and safety. It’s an eye opening experience for someone to see that the media and the anti-gun groups have been misleading the public with misinformation. Even if a non-gun friend decided that shooting may not be for them, they can still learn that firearms are just tools. And it’s even fun to go shooting.
It’s always an education talking to someone like Daniel. Much of the show, I was absorbing his wisdom and stories. The word I think he used the most was “liberty”. It came up several times during the conversation. I’m sure you’re going to listen a few times to get everything that he talked about.
“The vehicle that brings the issue before the court, it’s actually very important, that it’s the right vehicle.”
“The Second Amendment is so fundamental to liberty.”
“This movement both political, social, legal, is incredibly important to push back on these infringements on liberty.”
“…bring a friend to the range. …it’s so valuable just to get people to understand what firearms ownership is about. What it is and what it isn’t.”
“Fundamentally, us versus them is not left versus right, red versus blue. Us versus them is people versus politicians.”
“The best time to clamp down on personal liberty is during an emergency.”
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