A federal court today upheld the right of a state to ban military-style semi-automatic guns and assault rifles like those used in the mass murders in Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and elsewhere.
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The U.S. District Court ruled that Massachusetts ban on assault weapons and large magazines of ammunition put in place in 1998 are legal because those high capacity guns and rifles fall outside of the “scope of the personal right to ‘bear arms’ under the Second Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge William Young also upheld Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey’s enforcement notice to gun sellers and manufacturers clarifying what constitutes a ‘‘copy’’ or ‘‘duplicate’’ weapon under the 1998 law, reports The Associated Press.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts and others groups who claimed that the Massachusetts law infringed on their Second Amendment rights.
“The AR-15 and its analogs,” wrote the judge, “along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear arms.'”
So the elected representatives in any state have the right to ban such weapons, just as other states have the right to allow them, added the judge.
In laying out the history of the gun debate, Young quotes the late Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia extensively, drawing on his many rulings in the area.
That is particularly interesting, as Scalia was considered one of the most conservative judges on the court and has been upheld as a conservative icon since his death in 2016.
According to Judge Young, Scalia ruled that the rights secured by the Second Amendment “is not unlimited.”
Scalia ruled that it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever,” and noted it is perfectly legal to ban the sale of weapons to felons and the mentally ill, among others.
“Weapons that are most useful in military service – M-16 rifles and the like – are not protected under the Second Amendment,” ruled Scalia, and “may be banned.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, and a defendant in the suit said the court ruling upholding the ban “vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war.”
In a clear reference to the National Rifle Association (NRA), which fights against bans on assault rifles as a slippery slope that will lead to the confiscation of all guns, Healey said pressure groups will not force the state to do things lawmakers do not consider in the best interest of the citizens.
“Strong guns laws save lives,” said Healey in a statement on Facebook, “and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools.”
“Families across the nation,” added Healey, “should take heart in this victory.”
This ruling comes at a time that the whole issue of gun regulation and reform is boiling over in ways not seen in decades as a reaction to a series of mass shootings and murders, many of which were carried out with the kind of assault rifles banned in Massachusettes.
Most notably, the reaction after the murder of 17 students and faculty at a high school in Parkland, Florida has resulted in a national movement for stricter gun safety regulations by the survivors, seen most prominently in the recent March for Life, which saw hundreds of thousands of people march and protest in Washington, D.C. and across the country.
Even in Florida, where Republicans have fought gun regulation for years, some small steps have finally been taken despite the adamant opposition of the NRA.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott recently signed into law new restrictions raiding the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21 and imposing a three day waiting period on the sale of most long guns.
There is still no ban on assault weapons, or mandatory registration or a ban on the sale of guns at unregulated guns shows but the NRA still filed a lawsuit to try and overturn even this mild Florida law.
Recent polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans want sensible gun laws and that the issue is growing in importance, which could have a serious impact in the upcoming November midterm elections.
"Maryland’s ban on so-called assault weapons was passed after the 2012 mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond upheld the ban in a 10-4 vote" https://t.co/rWc2FSCWQz
— Tim Maloney (@maloneyofnepa) November 27, 2017
Ths is long past due.
The reality is that only about a quarter of Americans even own guns, and only a small percentage own multiple weapons and are fanatic about their right to keep and use them.
The NRA constantly tries to scare gun owners by warning the liberal lawmakers want to confiscate all guns and that any new regulation or law will take away the citizens right to protect themselves from terrorist, burglars and other imaginary “bad guys.”
This has all been proven false time and time again and again, but like any smart propaganda effort, the hardcore gun advocates just keep repeating those lies hoping at least some people will continue to believe them.
In a country where a third of the people still like President Trump, that is certainly still the case, unfortunately.
Today’s ruling, however, which will face other court tests, clearly shows that it is the right of the majority of Americans, through those they elect, to keep dangerous guns off the streets and away from those who should not have them.
Now it is up to the voters to make sure they elect the right representatives to make the will of the people the law of the land as well.