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David Codrea writes [via]:

A panel for the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling and sided with the government against a man who was authorized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to manufacture a post-1986 machine gun through a trust, only to have the permission rescinded and his property confiscated. In doing so, and by ignoring founding intent behind the Second Amendment, the panel ruled the right of Americans to own militia-suitable firearms can not only be infringed, but that it’s not even a right . . .

The case pits the Ryan S. Watson “Individually and as Trustee of the Watson Family Gun Trust” against the Department of Justice.  This column reported on the appeal filing in December, noting Watson’s claim against the Attorney General and the acting director for ATF is being represented by attorneys Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh, with fundraising coordinated through the Heller Foundation.

The basis for attempting such a build after the ban on ban on civilian ownership of machine guns manufactured after 1986.was precipitated by ATF’s documented contention “the term ‘person’ in the [Gun Control Act of 1968] does not include an unincorporated trust [and] such a trust is not subject to the prohibition.” “Watson was given permission by [ATF] to make a machine gun by approving his ATF Form 5320.1 (‘Form 1’). Watson subsequently made the authorized machine gun,” the appeal brief explains. “BATFE later revoked the approved Form 1 and mandated that Watson surrender the machine gun, which he did under protest.”

The panel opinion provides a glimpse of the tortured legal reasoning an agenda- motivated court must go through to deny both the function of the militia as well as the clear proscription that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

“We reiterated that ‘[a]t its core, the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to possess non-dangerous weapons for self-defense in the home,’ and thus, under Heller, ‘restrictions on the possession of dangerous and unusual weapons are not constitutionally suspect because these weapons are outside the ambit of the amendment,’” the opinion states. “[G]overnments may restrict the possession of machine guns.”

If we’re to believe these elite vetted and confirmed top legal scholars, the Founders conceived of a militia system where members would take to the field — to engage professional soldiers equipped with military weaponry “in common use at the time” — bearing “non-dangerous weapons for self-defense in the home.”

“The Third Circuit’s opinion in Watson v Lynch made several errors,” Stamboulieh and Beck told AmmoLand in a joint statement. “First, it failed to look at the historical analysis we provided regarding what the phrase ‘dangerous and unusual’ actually means.

“[T]he Court was able to uphold the Hughes Amendment via a circular logic; arguing that the ban is constitutional because machine guns fall within a category invented by the court,” Beck and Stamboulieh explained. “In doing so, the Court could simply ignore the arguments we presented to it. We plan on seeking rehearing by the entire Third Circuit Court in the near future.”

Additionally, the attorneys filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court for Hollis v Lynch, a case out of Texas that also involves an approved Form 1 machine gun on a trust after which ATF revoked the issued tax stamp, something they have no statutory authority to do. A quick distinction between the two cases is that in Hollis, ATF approved the Form 1, but he did not build a machine gun.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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  1. Yes, we are “winning”, all along the line.

    “shall not be infringed” !

    Of course we do not need to restrict judicial review of gun rights.

    • And this is an example of my answer to all who claim that the 2nd Amendment means something other than what the esteemed court system has decided that means and should also be a clear warning to anyone who things that a Hillary presidency would not lead to severe harm to gun rights and ultimate a gutting or total repeal of the protections afforded by Heller.

      Bottom line – even the the Founder’s final Constitutional guard against repression – the court system – has succumbed to elite political thinking where the government must make laws to protect the citizenry from itself as the citizens are too stupid to watch out for themselves.

  2. We have long since passed the point where there is a law that states every thing, every way. Which can then be interpreted to support what ever verdict one wishes.

    Didn’t care for the new format. I could live with it though.

    But the blue. That blue was honestly headache inducing. Don’t care if you change the format a bit, but kill that color, it really hurts the eyes.

    • When the new layout, font and color popped into view, I thought I had stumbled onto another USA Today site. Gave me a bad case of the heebie jeebies until I figured out I was in the right place.

  3. If a weapon is a “Non-dangerous weapon” how could it possibly be a weapon? If a member of the Court is incapable of applying logic to an issue they should recuse themselves as these three should have done.

    • Apparently the Second Ammendment only applies to NERF guns and squirt guns. At least as far as these liberal judges are concerned.

      • Which are banned in Australia. We’re going to get to the point where progressive SJW’s will complain about the “psychological dangers” of being shot with foam darts and raped by a plastic water-penis-gun.

    • My thoughts exactly. Isn’t a weapon, by nature, dangerous? Besides, how is a machine gun unusual? There are millions spread all over the world and in most countries you would see the “cop on the corner” so equipped.

    • Shhh. Instead of criticizing this malarky, take it and run with it. The court has just said that not all weapons are dangerous, and specifically drew the line at full auto. This will be an amusing argument to make against the likely future assault weapon ban.

  4. Liberal judges are much more dangerous than firearms and therefore must be banned. Anyone want to help me come up with a protest slogan? “Liberal Judges’ Rulings Don’t Matter” doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

  5. There should be a legal mechanism for removing judges. Call it felony miscarriage of justice, and lock them up.

  6. “Non-dangerous weapons”

    Wow, I feel like I need a few minutes in a “safe space” after reading that.

  7. Even if the Second Amendment didn’t exist, the ATF had no legal authority to revoke a permit once issued, and the man should be given back his property with an apology and compensation for his legal fees. Even if the ATF did have the legal authority to revoke the permit the man is owed just compensation for his property. This isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s illegal.

    I understand that the Constitution trumps law, but clearly these judges have no respect for the Constitution. Usually they uphold law over the Constitution, but here they ignored both.

  8. Stephen is also running for NRA board in 2017. Certain members are allowed to vote (can’t remember who) and he needs as much support as possible. Just think if we could get the NRA to back these cases?

    (And yeah, I know a few members on the board will likely never support the cases due to the risk on their “investments” but it’s still worth a shot)

  9. Huh? I’m not getting this(more coffee!) Anywho “non-dangerous weapons” is a non-sequitur. A weapon is dangerous…

  10. While I disagree on principle with the nfa as a whole, I think the bigger issue in this case is the atf first approving and then, after the individual spent the time and presumably, money in manufacturing the firearm, revoking the approval. This resulted in confiscation without due process or compensation. Should that be allowed to stand, it sets a really bad precedent that could have severe constitutional crises in the futue.

  11. The best part of the whole thing is the massive can of worms the court opened when it stated in its opinion that, and I quote, “trusts can not own property.”

    The number of ways that statement right there can screw a whole bunch of people and companies out of their assets is mind boggling. Hopefully it results in a number of amicus briefs filed from all across the political, financial, and industrial spectrums to get that aspect of the ruling overturned.

    • Indeed- Isn’t the entire purpose of a trust to own property (even if that property is currency) so that it can be controlled by the members of said trust? If trusts cannot own property, what is a trust? I always thought it was a corporation formed to specifically control forms of property… Am I wrong on this?

      • A trust is not a corporation. A trust is a legal entity that can own and manage assets.

        Corporations are another legal entity that can also own and manage assets.

        Of course living breathing human beings can also own and manage assets.

    • the massive can of worms the court opened when it stated in its opinion that, and I quote, “trusts can not own property.”

      YEP, That makes for a LOT of illegally funded “Trusts ” across the Country!
      So much for Realty Trusts, Gun trusts and MORE!

  12. Applied Oxymoronics 101

    Forcing logic on an inherently contradictory conclusion is basically what insanity is.

  13. I wonder if they feel that a pen is a non dangerous weapon?
    In the hands of a judge it’s a wmd.

  14. It isn’t a great ruling, and I take some exception to its categorization of machine guns, but the discussion on trusts is fair.

    As a non-person, a trust cannot take physical possession of weapon. As a result, Watson would be required to take possession as an individual on behalf of the trust. Since Watson cannot take possession as an individual, the trust cannot possess the weapon. Further, by allowing a trust, formed by of any of the prohibited persons listed in the statute, to bypass the restrictions of the statute, the statute would be undermined. That would run contrary to both legislative intent and attempts to create an exception where one clearly doesn’t exist. So, I’m ok on that.

    But, I still struggle with the machine gun prohibition by arguing that they are not in common use. Because something is not commonly used today or was not yesterday does not prevent that common use tomorrow. Further, it recognizes that if we are to give any heed to the the preamble/prefactory clause, we would by need be required to allow machine guns while restricting bolt actions.

    What chaps my hide the most is the assertion that machine guns can be restricted based on their common use by criminals. Such an assertion would justify bans on PAYGO phones, pagers, and many other devices that were heavily used by the criminal element before reaching broad public use.

    • Question. Can you put a car in a trust? What if you do not have a licence to drive can you control the trust? Your points are good ones however I must disagree.

      • I think you’re barking up the wrong tree there. I’m not aware of any statute that prohibits anyone from possessing a car. Anyone can own a car, regardless of whether or not they can drive it.

  15. Buy yourselves some black robes and gavels.

    If the Courts can chuck it that bad, it’s time to return the favor and call yourself a circuit court justice.

  16. Interesting but not surprising; there is no discussion on how the number of registered mgs has grown since the cutoff date. In fairness, I cannot remember if it is a point that Watson raised in this round of arguments but, equal protection be damned I guess!

  17. Riddle me this Almighty Third Circuit Court of Appeals:

    The 1939 United States v. Miller decision protects weapons that are ordinary military equipment or that could contribute to the common defense. A machine gun is not only ordinary military equipment, it has been standard issue military equipment throughout most of recent military history. Of course it goes without saying that a machine gun could contribute to the common defense. (Why else would many police departments have them?) And yet this Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision violates the U.S. Supreme Court Miller decision. How is that supposed to work?

    • This was the rationale in Miller, but since it didn’t actually decide that a firearm is constitutionally protected (quite the opposite, it decided that a SBS is not constitutionally protected), it did not set a precedent.

  18. “non-dangerous weapon”?
    If it’s not dangerous, how can it be a weapon and how can it be for defense?

    Then again, I guess if you posted pictures of shillary, Maxine Waters, and some other ugly dumbocraps, people might vomit and leave.

  19. Wow! The stupid is strong with the judges on the 3rd circuit. I’m still trying to figure out how I defend my home with a non dangerous weapon. Maybe tickle a home invader into submission with a big feather?
    At what point do we as supposedly free people stand up in mass and say F-U and withhold all tax dollars? Have a 10 million machine gun toting march on the capital?

  20. I’m confused here. Did the founders think that when a musket is fired at someone it is somehow… not dangerous? Did they win wars and defend home and hearth with… non dangerous weapons?

    They are supposed to be dangerous.

  21. Apparently, Rule Of Law is getting long in the tooth.

    Of course, his good friends Historical Precedent and Constitutional Supremacy are now long dead.

  22. Two things.

    First WTAF are “non-dangerous weapons”? Webster’s defines “weapon” as “something used to injure, defeat, or destroy” so it would seem a “non-dangerous weapon” literally can’t exist…

    Second, they revoked an approved Form 1. That’s a scary precedent for anyone who owns NFA gear. Especially since the logic used to do it was that the MG wasn’t common enough to fall under the Heller protections or any other legal protections… so that would seem to potentially apply to any NFA gear and give the ATF the right to revoke any approved Form 1 or Form 4 they wish…

    • “…that would seem to potentially apply to any NFA gear and give the ATF the right to revoke any approved Form 1 or Form 4 they wish…”

      Now you are catching on. The radicals never stop, while we are always on the defensive, trying to catch water with a tennis racquet.

      • Well, for the time being this only applies to the jurisdiction of the 3rd Circuit, which is basically PA and NJ and NJ’s already behind enemy lines…

  23. Historical reference guide.
    civ·il war
    noun: civil war; plural noun: civil wars
    a war between citizens of the same country.
    Translate civil war to:

    civil war
    Popularity: Bottom 40% of words
    Simple Definition of civil war
    : a war between groups of people in the same country
    Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
    Examples: civil war in a sentence

    Full Definition of civil war
    : a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country


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