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Some kids are bright enough to look at a stove top, see the flame or the glowing coil and think “Hot!” and forget about touching it. Others just gotta touch it, in order to figure out that when you play with fire you get burned. I’m predicting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the D.C. City Council will find out that fire = hot = get burned, just as soon as their “assault weapons/hi-cap magazine” ban gets a ticket to a command performance by the Supremes.

I think I’m on pretty secure tera firma here. When it comes to gun laws, all I really need do is to look no further than the New York Times opinion page, and take a contrarian view. If I didn’t choose to think for a living, they’d still make my job ridiculously easy. Let’s see if we can pick apart what passes for “logic” and “reasoning” in their little love note to the Court of Appeals, shall we?

First, to the nitty-gritty. The District of Columbia, after being bee-yatch-slapped by the Supremes in District of Columbia v. Heller came back with a New! Improved! law that they felt might pass Constitutional muster. As if. The new law defines “assault weapons” to include rifles like the AR-15, and setting the maximum capacity for magazines at 10 rounds.

What does the Gray Lady have to say about the appellate ruling? “The appeals court ruling is careful and convincing on this heated topic.” Um…not so much.

Let’s start with the suggestion made in the appellate ruling that “assault weapons” are “designed to spray bullets at a rapid rate,” suggesting that the only place such weapons are appropriate are on a battlefield or in the hands of the police. They opine that allowing these weapons anywhere else is “an invitation to mayhem and puts police officers and all around at high risk.”

Okay, we’ve already beat the metaphorical “assault weapons” moniker to death, so we can safely gloss over that one, save to note that any time a judicial body adopts the contrived terminology of a left-wing, special-interest group, you gotta figure they have an agenda, and it’s not gonna be a good one.  So we’ll give ’em “assault weapon” – for now. But their definition of same is priceless: designed to spray bullets at a rapid rate. I’m not one to suggest that passing a law is the automatic solution to what ails ye, but this wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be the soul of prudence to require that any judge hearing a case dealing with guns or gun laws actually knows the friggin’ difference between “semi-auto” and “full-auto” weapons. Maybe we need to find a “Mr. Rogers”-esque character and get the NRA to focus on gun education for the diaper set:

Hi, boys n’ girls. Welcome to Mr. Robinson’s Hood. Remember when I told you last week that when you hear bullets flying, the safest thing to do is to lie down on the floor? Or if you hear them really close, go get into the bathtub and lie down? Well today, we’re gonna talk about how to tell the difference between a fully automatic “machine gun” and a semi-automatic rifle, used for self-defense.

Yeah, dream on, Kozak.

So let me get this straight. The danger here is “spray bullets at a rapid rate of fire,” right? So it sounds as if the law would ban full-auto weapons. Only trouble is, that’s not what they’re banning. They’ve gone after the semi-auto market. You know, the very kind of gun you might really WANT, if you were living in the drug-and-crime-riddled war zone that is the D.C. metro area.

Likewise, they’ve decided that anything over ten rounds in a magazine presents a clear and present danger to officers of the law. Uh huh. So it’s not the first ten bullets “spraying” out of the gun. It’s that eleventh one that will kill ya. Got it. Of course, since none of the judges or council-persyns involved would know a magazine from a strip clip, or a speedloader from a breach-loader, it’s not too likely they’d understand the concept behind a tactical reload. (God help us all if someone screens a Jerry Miculek video for them – they’d all have to go on life support for angina.)

The appellate court goes on to speculate, “the evidence demonstrates a ban on assault weapons is likely to promote the Government’s interest in crime control in the densely populated urban area that is the District of Columbia.” Uh. Really? Evidence? WHAT evidence? They’ve had a ban on “assault weapons” for a very long time, haven’t they? How’s that workin’ out for ’em? If they are into social engineering, howza about giving the “arm the citizens” route for a change and see if that gets demonstrably different results than the who “disarm the sheeple” meme.

I can’t imagine that this law won’t be challenged, and challenged soon with a case filed with the Supreme Court. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d hope that somebody would make a case for “injunctive relief,” if that’s even possible, to prevent D.C. from enforcing the ban. But of course, once this law is thrown out, I’m sure the city council will keep coming back and trying again and again and again, hoping to wear down those who support the Constitutional right to self-defense.

The only real solution here is for the Supreme Court to define what is a “reasonable restriction” on gun ownership. The Court has historically been reluctant to do so, because it’s not their job to make laws, but to interpret them. The only Constitutionally, logically sound thing for the court to do, is to rule that there are NO Constitutional limits that can be applied to gun ownership, which is the only thing that would stop the D. C. city council from trying again.

I wonder if/when that will ever happen. Until then, expect the lawmakers in D.C. to keep putting their hand in the fire to see if it no longer burns.

15 Responses to D.C. Gun Laws: Testing the Limits

  1. “So it’s not the first ten bullets “spraying” out of the gun. It’s that eleventh one that will kill ya.”

    Based on their hit ratio this statement is probably true if a LEO is shooting at you.

  2. The ruling is going to stand; the Supreme Court won’t overturn it. Courts are supposed to defer to legislatures; legislatures are elected, federal judges aren’t. As long as a law doesn’t clearly stomp on the constitution, courts must give the benefit of the doubt to the legislature.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the stupid sheeple who keep on electing the same scumbags, time after time after time, and then have to pray that some court will save their worthless asses.

    • I agree with Ralph. We gun rights supporters have to start working on municipal and state offices to get people elected who understand the difference between semi- and auto-, the meaninglessness of bans of high-capacity magazines, that open carry doesn’t mean an end to our civilization, gun registration won’t end violence, etc. We need to out-work the gun banners.

    • I was wondering about the give and take dynamic and if there was a ‘defer to concept’ between the Courts and the Legislature. Yet, as I understand it, there has been a trend of “legislating from the bench” resulting in much criticism the past 20+ years with judges over-stepping their place. Having anti-gun progressive liberals such as Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the SC is disconcerting.

      • Having anti-gun progressive liberals such as Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the SC is disconcerting.

        It may disconcert you, Aharon, but it scares the living sh!t out of me.

  3. I wish the federal government had some sort of maximum limit on gun control. Like maybe no state can ban a rifle with a barrel 16″ or over unless that weapon is full-auto. We need something that tells people what is acceptable to consider when judging the danger of certain guns. I think only action type, barrel length, and total length should be used as grounds for control.

    • You are wrong. The Federal Government should not infringe. The bill of rights doesn’t have anything the people shouldn’t do, it’s about what limits the Federal Government.

      • I agree that what you suggest is the ideal long term goal, but we still need stepping stones to get there. A federal ban on certain types of gun control would be a good start.

  4. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but there are two legal points here that bear noting. The Amendment states that “the right of the people” shall not be infringed. The first amendment says “Congress shall make no law” (would that they had stopped there). One interpretation was that the Constitution was collectively a restrictive document, from the point of view of the “rights” inherently belong to the We the People and the “several States.” The document specifically grants enumerated rights (about 30 of ’em) to the Feds, and reserves ALL that are not specifically granted.

    The wording of the 2nd Amendment cuts both ways – many have argued about the “militia” definition, but few have discussed if the rights granted or enumerated in the Constitution are restrictions on the Federal government alone, or if they also cover states, counties and cities. The recent Heller and McDonald rulings put an end to that (until the next test case, I suppose), making it an individual right. Had the Supremes stopped there, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But because they added that “reasonable” restrictions are kosher, that opened up a whole ‘nuther can of worms.

    I maintain that the court will overturn the latest D.C. ban as overly-restrictive. But until either they or Congress comes out with some specific guidelines for what “reasonable” means, we’re stuck with bad laws like these.

    • Brad, keep in mind that it was the D.C. Circuit Court that first found for Heller in his suit against the District, overruling the District Court. Thus, the D.C. Circuit was the first court in the District of Columbia to find a Second Amendment right for Mr. Heller. Inasmuch as the D.C. Circuit is (or was) friendly to gun rights in the Heller case, I don’t think that it’s going to be reversed in this case.

      There will probably be a motion for a rehearing en banc (before the entire panel of D.C. circuit judges), which I expect will be denied. Then there will be an appeal to the SCOTUS. I expect it will also be denied. SCOTUS will not want this case, since the Supreme Court is not in the business of splitting hairs. Ten rounds, five rounds, twenty rounds? That’s never been the Court’s business.

  5. The appellate court goes on to speculate, “the evidence demonstrates a ban on assault weapons is likely to promote the Government’s interest in crime control in the densely populated urban area that is the District of Columbia.” Uh. Really? Evidence? WHAT evidence?

    What evidence? The evidence that was entered into the record before the trial court.

    The bottom line is Heller II was a purely legal challenge to D.C.’s gun control regulations. Stephen Halbrook, the NRA attorney representing Mr. Heller, never presented any evidence refuting the government’s claims about so-called assault weapons or about magazine capacity. In fact, there is very little real evidence – in the form of controlled research conducted by independent organizations – that supports what most gun owners know to be true.

    You and most gun owners may truly believe that you’ve “beat the metaphorical ‘assault weapons’ moniker to death.” But articles in American Rifleman, youtube videos and blog postings aren’t evidence. Nor are NRA press releases or speeches by pro-Second Amendment politicians. Evidence of the kind that can be considered in a court of law “must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.” And that typically means research conducted independent organizations, such as universities and laboratories.

    It also does no good to rail about “left-wing, special-interest group[s].” Our opponents have so far been winning the evidence contest. Sure, it’s absolutely true that most academics and government researchers are anti-gun and tend to support more government control. But that doesn’t excuse our complete absence from the field.

    Prior to Heller I, the entire gun rights community fought in the arena of public opinion and politics. Now that the courts are available to us, we’ve got to learn how to fight a different fight. It’s not good enough to simply be right – we have to come armed with real evidence that proves we’re right.

    Hopefully, the NRA will recognize its mistakes with this litigation and not turn a serious setback into an unmitigated disaster by petitioning for Supreme Court review. Other organizations which are supporting Second Amendment litigation, such as the Second Amendment Foundation and The Calguns Foundation, also need to reconsider their tactics.

    There is a very real and serious danger here: once the Supreme Court rules, future challenges will become virtually impossible, regardless of their basis. If the Court finds that assault weapon or magazine capacity laws are constitutional, then no amount of evidence will change that ruling. It would be very sad if well-crafted legal arguments allowed irrational laws to remain on the books.

  6. Ah, excuse me, but wasn’t it the Roberts side of the court that threw in that little caveat allowing states and cities to have so called restrictions? So let’s give credit or blame to the proper scum!
    I just got a message from this site, that I was typing too fast. Hell, I’m only using two fingers, how slow do you folks type, and didn’t you take typing in high school? Or am I giving away my age?

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