Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Battle Over Gun Rights Continues

So the Fourth circuit court of appeals made an interesting decision on tuesday. It seems that the second amendment does not appeal to "weapons of war" in their minds. To my mind this is exactly in opposition to the intention and wording of the second amendment, which reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Why is that a contradiction? Well, for a few reasons.

For the first reason, the second is meant to insure gun rights so common citizens can form a militia, an emergency defense force that can resist hostile actions. Nowhere does it specify that the militia being provided for must only be involved in conflicts of a limited nature, and while rules of engagement can be set by the commanding officers of a uniformed fighting force in accordance with the rules of war, these are concepts not addressed in the second amendment.

Secondly the whole concept of making a distinction between the weapons private citizens may own for self defense and "weapons of war" is something that would be entirely and utterly incomprehensible to  the founders, because the weapons of the continental army were the same weapons men had in their homes for self defense. This does not preclude modern fully automatic weapons either, as the advances leading to them were quite comprehensible to the founders. The Puckle Gun was a crude, crew served flintlock revolver, but it was also a fully operational machine gun. Capable of firing approximately 63 rounds in 7 minutes in adverse conditions, for its period it was a beast if a machine considering that in 1718 (the year of its patent) a good rifleman could get two or three shots off per minute, or approximately 20 rounds in the same 7 minute timeframe. Men like Jefferson, Franklin, and so many others of the founders were men of science who, almost sixty years later were well aware of the progression of technology.

Continuing on that point.... the term "weapons of war" is a pretty vague definition of a class of weapon. Is a knife or bayonet considered a weapon of war? We still trained with both when I entered basic training not all that many years ago? What about the 9mm semi-automatic M9 Beretta or it's replacement, the Sig P320? Or the grand daddy of them all and Sam Browns masterpiece, the .45 caliber 1911, which is hanging from my headboard holster? It's just a messy piece of terminology that shouldn't have any place in something as important and as technical as defining one of the core rights in the Bill of Rights.

Issues with terminology aside Judge King cited District of Columbia v. Heller, this implies he is either unfamiliar with the case beyond the fact that it addressed gun rights and was decided on a narrow (5-4) margin, or he is simpl an activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench. I'm not the greatest legal scholar but a simple google search shows that in District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme court held that the second amendment  guareantees the right of the private citizen to own a firearm for any traditional purpose. In point of fact when the ruling was initially handed down it was reviled by gun rights opponents because it struck down the first and third provisions of the 1975 Firearms Control Regulation Act and limited the second provision, effectively neutering the act.

In point of fact the NRA has commented that District of Columbia v. Heller might actually preclude this ruling specifically in the case of some of the most vilified weapons, like the AR 15, because the supreme court ruling laid out specific protection for weapons that are in common and lawful use. While I have no doubt the gun grabbers plan to ignore logic and support King's bid to legislate from the bench it looks like if the NRA attempts to appeal to a higher court they will have a very strong case, and that makes me a perky punk.

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