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Old 01-31-2013, 12:50 PM   #1
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Supreme courts view on weapons ban

This is a great article with the existing case law's cross referenced to support 2nd amendment rights.

Sense and Sensibility on the ‘Assault Weapons’ Controversy The Sword Geek

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Tinker Pearce
Sense and Sensibility on the ‘Assault Weapons’ Controversy



To start with let me say that wether or not I am a ‘gun-nut’ depends entirely on your point of view. I like guns. I find them to be esthetically pleasing examples of the melding of form and function. I like the cleverness of their engineering and design. I enjoy admiring their craftsmanship. I like to sense of connection to history that some of them impart. I enjoy taking them out and shooting holes in paper with them on a target-range. I hunt occasionally on a friend’s property with them, largely because the local deer want to eat her crops. I’m ex-military and ex-law enforcement, so I am comfortable with the idea that in the unlikely event I need to protect myself or my loved ones I will have an increased capability to do so. My wife and I own several firearms between us. So that’s me as far as guns are concerned.

Further disclosure- while I’m not a fan of President Obama I don’t hate him. I think that he’s a nice enough guy, a mediocre president and a fairly typical politician. I don’t think that he is evil, a ‘socialist,’ or the anti-christ. He’s just a professional politician, a profession that I neither care for nor approve of, but what the hell. He’s more ‘liberal’ than I am, but last time I checked this was America and he’s allowed to hold opinions contrary to mine.

Final disclosure- I fact-check. I don’t just brainlessly parrot any statistic or position that agrees with my prejudices. I try to find reliable sources and I verify facts to the best of my ability. My opinions are generally shaped by these facts, and when I am wrong I change my opinion. God knows if life has taught me nothing else it’s not to place faith in my own ‘rightness.’ As a consequence I don’t believe a lot of anti-gun propaganda, because I’ve checked the facts and they are wrong. Neither do I believe a lot of pro-gun propaganda because there is no credible evidence to support many of their bizarre conspiracy theories.

Currently there’s a lot of invective flying around over the issue of ‘gun control.’ Most of what I hear people from both sides saying, in the media and in social outlets like facebook, is ignorant, unthinking knee-jerk reactions. Uniformed, biased and worst of all unhelpful. Mostly it centers around ‘Assault Weapons,’ a fuzzy media-invented term that means, “Scary-looking guns that hold a lot of bullets.”

Let’s examine some facets of this multi-sided debate in the light of law and reason- concepts that seem all too foreign to participants in much of the ‘debate’ to this point. My personal perspective on this is generally pro-gun, but that bias is as much based in fact-checking as it is the fact that I like them. Much, much more importantly I’m anti-stupid. Please try to keep that in mind as this article progresses.

Yes, I have done the unthinkable. I’ve done research and checked the facts independently of my admitted bias. Try not to faint.

Let’s start with what the Supreme Court says about guns, gun ownership and gun-control. Bear in mind that the Constitution designates these people as the supreme authority on the the law in the United States. As such they have the last word on these matters. This is determined by majority rule of the justices. It does not matter which proportion of them voted what way. The fact that a vote on an issue was ‘close’ matters not the tiniest bit. It’s the final verdict that matters and in this their word is literally law.

It does not matter if you disagree with them. The fact that you think that they are wrong is irrelevant. Their. Word. Is. Law. Period.

In Heller v. District of Columbia the supreme court established several things:

1) That the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights pertains to an individual’s right to own firearms for lawful purposes, which purposes include self-defense in the home.
2) That the 2nd Amendment does not convey this right in an unlimited fashion and that reasonable regulation of firearms does not necessarily constitute ‘infringement’ of that right.
3) That, there being no universal standard, wether or not a given regulation constitutes an ‘infringement’ of that right will need to be judged on a case-by-case basis.
4) Specifically that Handguns are a class of firearms eminently suited to such lawful uses as self defense in the home and therefore could not, as a class, be subjected to a blanket ban.

This decision does have it’s detractors, but I have reviewed the case at some length, as well as the writings of our Founding Fathers. I am quite confident that this decision is in accord with the founding father’s intent in writing the 2nd Amendment. Arguments against this interpretation that I have examined are universally unpersuasive and ignore the stated intent of the framers of the amendment. No, I am not a ‘constitutional scholar,’ but I read and speak the english language fluently. When someone explicitly states their opinion I understand what they mean. Look it up for yourself. For now the word of the Supreme Court is Law, so I’ll decline to waste time arguing the point.

Now let’s look at what this decision does NOT mean:
1) That anyone may own any type of firearm
2) That firearms ownership cannot be subjected to any form of control or regulation
3) That the state cannot impose reasonable regulation of this right

The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority on what is or is not ‘Constitutional.’ They are the final authority and again their word is literally law. Period. As a consequence I don’t care what your opinion is on the matter. It was settled by the body designated in the Constitution to settle such matters, and there’s an end to it.

In McDonald v. The City of Chicago city officials tried to argue that the 2nd Amendment was, among all of the Amendments to the bill of rights, unique in that it did not apply to individual states, who were free to do as they pleased with regard to banning individual possession of firearms for lawful purposes. The Supreme Court disagreed.

So- it is currently the Law of the Land, established by the designated Constitutionally appropriate authority, that individuals are allowed to possess arms for lawful purposes, including self defense in the home. Weapons eminently suited to such lawful purposes cannot be subjected to a blanket ban. Some regulation, if found to be ‘reasonable’ on a case-by-case basis, is allowable and does not necessarily constitute and infringement of 2nd Amendment rights.

Are we all clear on this much? If so we can proceed.

So- What has Obama proposed to place into effect, by Executive Order if necessary? According to his own official statement, not according to conspiracy theorists, racists or other brands of extreme Obama-haters?

Most of his proposals deal with helping to keep guns out of the hands of illegal users, studying the root-causes of violence, insuring the availability of mental health-care, promoting education in how to deal with mass-shootings in-progress, assisting law-enforcement in solving firearms-related crimes etc. The items listed below are the only measures that relate directly to firearms and are taken from the Presidents’s proposals as officially distributed by the White House in .pdf format:

• Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons: The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.

• Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds: The case for prohibiting high-capacity magazines has been proven over and over; the shooters at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown all used magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which would have been prohibited under the 1994 law. These magazines enable any semiautomatic weapon to be used as an instrument of mass violence, yet they are once again legal and now come standard with many handguns and rifles. Congress needs to reinstate the prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

• Finish the job of getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets: It is already illegal to manufacture and import armor-piercing ammunition except for military or law enforcement use. But it is generally still not illegal to possess or transfer this dangerous ammunition. Congress should finish the job of protecting law enforcement and the public by banning the possession of armor- piercing ammunition by, and its transfer to, anyone other than the military and law enforcement.

Eliminate restrictions that force the ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age: ATF is required to authorize the importation of certain “curio or relic” firearms, and outdated regulations include all firearms manufactured more than 50 years ago in the definition of “curio or relic.” But today, firearms manufactured more than 50 years ago include large numbers of semiautomatic military-surplus rifles, some of which are easily convertible into machine guns or otherwise appealing for use in crime. Congress should get rid of restrictions that prevent ATF from changing this definition, enabling ATF to ensure that firearms imported as curios or relics are actually of interest as collectibles, rather than letting these rules be used as a way to acquire fully functional and powerful military weapons.

Let’s examine each of these in light of the Supreme Court rulings cited above:

The ‘Assault Weapon’ ban:
Sorry, can’t do it. It won’t pass constitutional muster under Heller v. DC. Why not? Because these weapons, as defined, constitute a class of weapons that is ‘eminently suitable’ for lawful purposes such as self-defense in the home. Therefore these weapons cannot, as a class, be subjected to a blanket ban.

Really?!

Yes. Let’s look at the qualities that make a weapon ‘suitable’ for self defense:
1) Ease of use. These weapons are easy to use- they are designed to be employed effectively by minimally trained personnel under stressful conditions.
2) Accuracy of fire. These weapons, properly employed, are very accurate at close range, even in the hands of minimally-trained personnel. Much more so than a handgun and at least as much so as a shotgun. Accurate fire is desirable because it increases the effectiveness of the weapon and reduces the potential for unintentional injury to bystanders. These weapons are also better suited to putting multiple rounds on target quickly, which is often necessary to stop an assailant quickly to prevent them from creating further harm.
3) The ability to engage multiple targets in rapid succession. It is possible under circumstances such as a home invasion or civil disorder that this may be necessary. Why else were repeating weapons invented in the first place?
Well and good, but doesn’t the mention of ‘public good’ and ‘reasonable regulation’ negate this? Well, since weapons of this type are used in less than 3% of violent crime in this country (according to the FBI and other government sources) it is very hard to make a case for the necessity of banning these weapons on that basis.

But surely people don’t NEED that kind of firepower for self defense? Arguable from either side, but ultimately irrelevant. Under Heller v. DC the standard established is of utility not need. From a constitutional perspective, established by the Supreme Court, you cannot ban weapons as a class if they meet the standard of utility.

Is it true that the same qualities that make these weapons ‘eminently suitable’ for self defense also make them ideal tools for mass-shooters? Yep. Does that suck? Yep. Won’t banning them prevent mass-murders? Nope. Timothy McVey is one of many examples of a mass-murderer that did not use a gun. He killed more people than any gun-spree killer in history and did it with materials much easier to obtain than guns. Plus if your only goal is to execute unarmed people you can do a pretty good job with other guns as well, as we’ll discuss in the next section, that being-

Banning magazines with a capacity of ten rounds or more:
Under Heller v. DC this is probably Constitutional. A useless and purely cosmetic measure, to be sure, but likely to be judged to fall into the category of ‘reasonable regulation.’ Why? Because the same factors that render this measure ridiculous argue against the need for high-capacity magazines.

Huh?

With minimal training and fore-thought an average person could easily perform a mass-shooting spree with low-capacity magazines, or even revolvers. Case in point- in the 1980′s I shot in IPSC competition (look it up- explaining it here wastes too much effort.) I was classified as a ‘D’ Class shooter- the lowest level of competition. For the most part I used a weapon that held eight rounds, but since I was able to train myself to reload efficiently the need to do so never slowed me down on a course of fire. I could reload in the time it took me to move three feet sideways as fast as I could- and I was ranked at the lowest level of proficiency in that form of competition. Other persons have demonstrated that the ten-round magazine ban will have no effect on mass shooters by showing how fast they can reload. I’m sure the videos are all over You-Tube.

But… by doing so they have also shown that they don’t need high capacity magazines for ‘lawful use such as self-defense in the home.’ They have, if you’ll pardon the expression, ‘shot themselves in the foot.’

So- banning such magazines is a zero-sum gain. It won’t significantly interfere with either mass-shooters or legitimate users. It’s not unconstitutional, but it’s useless. Does anyone out there have a proposal for enforcement? With perhaps as many as 100 million such magazines in circulation, unregistered? Also even if you do manage to come up with a confiscation scheme that has a snowball’s chance in hell of working, how will you fund it?

Ultimately such a ban is pointless and will be ineffective for its intended purpose. The only reason to bother is so that politicians can point to the law and say, “See? I tried!” But it probably will pass constitutional muster.

• Finish the job of getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets:
As long as the law isn’t bone-stupid I don’t see a problem with this… or any purpose in it. Criminals aren’t using these bullets in large numbers, so who cares? Another zero-sum gain measure, and until specific legislation is proposed there is little point in wasting time arguing about it one way or the other.

Eliminate restrictions that force the ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age:
Another pointless idea. Criminals generally aren’t using these weapons to commit crimes, nor are they likely to. Why bother? From the other perspective there are already so many of these weapons in the US that there isn’t a lot of point in fighting for or against this one. Except that such weapons are usually less expensive than their modern equivalents so the poor are more likely to be able to avail themselves of the same rights as their wealthier counterparts. This one faces the same problem as the ‘Assault Weapon’ ban. If such weapons have a demonstrated utility for ‘lawful uses’ then you probably can’t get away with banning their importation.

Draw your own conclusions.
So there you have it. Before you flame me from either the pro or anti gun stance check your FACTS. Read the proposals. Read the Supreme Court decision. Read actual crime statistics, not opinions or ‘survey results.’ Most of all THINK, and if you must respond to this do so from a position of intelligence, open-mindedness, reason and research based in reality. Not prejudice or ‘surveys’ from either side of the debate that are almost always severely biased.

Last edited by sunofnun; 01-31-2013 at 12:53 PM.
 
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:52 PM   #2
Sniper
 
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Joined: Jan 2009
From: Kirkland, WA
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Excellent article!
 
Old 01-31-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
Gunslinger
 
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Springfield, Or
Posts: 17
Very good article! Eliminates alot of confusion floating around out there.
 
Old 01-31-2013, 07:20 PM   #4
Gunslinger
 
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Washington
Posts: 18
Great article! Thank you for the break-down....
 
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