If owning many types of military grade weapons can be prohibited, then we can infer the existence of a legal limit on the destructive power available to citizens, beyond which the Second Amendment affords no protection. Current gun laws like the NFA cite arbitrary measures like barrel length and caliber size, but that’s an indirect measure that can create bizarre restrictions on some types of firearms but not others. A better approach would be a logical and explicit description of the threshold between legal and illegal arms . . .
For example, the limits of a weapon’s stopping power might be determined relative to a select sample of material (eg. kevlar, steel, unreinforced masonry) at fixed distances (point blank, 10 meters, 100 meters, 1000 meters). The maximum permitted values might then be set to the capabilities of, say, a modern .50 rifle.
Similarly, the limits of a weapon’s spread could be determined by the average impact energy of an individual projectile and the total impact energy of all projectiles at fixed radii (1 meter, 10 meters, 100 meters). As for semi-automatic and automatic weapons, the same methods of measurement would be used but with limits focused on the aggregate penetration and/or impact energy that could be delivered in given time intervals ( 1 second, 10 seconds, and 100 seconds).
This would avoid ad-hoc amendments to gun control laws, provide a rational framework for manufacturers to experiment with new products, and better accommodate future advances that may not use traditional chemical propellants and/or delivery systems. But in talking to some gun enthusiasts, I’ve found a genuine reluctance in a straight-forward approach to regulation. If the federal government should “reasonably regulate” firearms (and that pertains to all matter of weaponry), then what ought to be the operational principle?