D.C. Gun Law Is Unconstitutional No Matter How You Look at It

A couple of preliminary observations about today's ruling in D.C. v. Heller:

1. The Court does not resolve the issue of what level of scrutiny should be applied to purported violations of the Second Amendment, because it concludes that D.C.'s firearm restrictions, which effectively preclude keeping a gun in the home for self-defense, are so extreme that they would be unconstitutional under any level of scrutiny.

2. The Court explicitly says that laws prohibiting concealed carry, banning gun possession by "felons and the mentally ill," barring firearms from "sensitive places" such as schools and government buildings, and regulating the sale of firearms are consistent with the Second Amendment. It also suggests that banning "unusual and dangerous weapons," as opposed to weapons in common use for lawful purposes, is permissible. Whether that means, say, bazookas or guns arbitrarily designated as "assault weapons" is one of many details that will have to be worked out by the courts.

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  • ||

    Aside from a few draconian areas of the country, Heller was always going to be a moral victory for whoever won, with little actual importance. If the gun control side had won, they'd still have to deal with the fact that gun control is politically unpopular in large parts of the country.

    We won today, but its not going to have an a big impact in real life. Sure, D.C. has to issue permits. But do they have to fund the office to issue permits? What if it takes them 15 years to getting around to doing it, etc... I don't see a whole lot of real life impact in this case, except now we can compress the individual rights argument down to "Heller" when we get into an argument about it.

  • ||

    The rather shocking thing is that four of the justices voted to ignore the second amendment. FUCK THEM.

    -jcr

  • Abdul||

    It also suggests that banning "unusual and dangerous weapons," as opposed to weapons in common use for lawful purposes, is permissible. Whether that means, say, bazookas or guns arbitrarily designated as "assault weapons" is one of many details that will have to be worked out by the courts.

    The most recent 2nd amendment case prior to this one already ruled that a sawed-off shotgun was not covered by the 2nd Amendment. Unless Heller overruled that, laws prohibiting "assault weapons" are likely to be okay.

  • ||

    Sure, D.C. has to issue permits. But do they have to fund the office to issue permits?

    Foot-dragging to deny citizens their constitutional rights can be challenged in court as civil rights violations.

    -jcr

  • Reasonable||

    The rather shocking thing is that four of the justices voted to ignore the second amendment.

    No they didn't at all. They simply took a different view of it than the other five.

    I happen to fully agree with the decision today, but it's all or nothing attitudes like yours that make it difficult for the rest of us to convince the other side that at the core of the 2nd amendment is the issue of self defense, and not a carte-blanche right to be armed to the teeth.

    FUCK YOU.

  • Neu Mejican||

    At first blush the ruling seems about correct.

  • robc||

    Reasonable,

    The core of the 2nd amendment is a carte-blanche right to be armed to the teeth.

  • robc||

    NM,

    I would say, it seems about the best we could hope for. Confirmation of an individual right but doesnt rock the boat in the majority of the country (by area) that doesnt have stupidly oppressive gun laws.

  • Jerked Quisling||


    I happen to fully agree with the decision today, but it's all or nothing attitudes like yours that make it difficult for the rest of us to convince the other side that at the core of the 2nd amendment is the issue of self defense, and not a carte-blanche right to be armed to the teeth.

    FUCK YOU.



    Thank you, Uncle Tom. We nigguhs ca has a little freedoms, but we's should't go insistin' on mo' than massa' allows.

    Yeesh.

  • ||

    "...amendment is the issue of self defense, and not a carte-blanche right to be armed to the teeth."

    So what, in your opinion, is the proper amount of armament for self defense? A .22 pistol? A shot gun? What gauge? Should the person trying to protect themselves be concerned about leveling the playing field with their attacker?

  • ||

    The only thing stopping many areas from completely banning guns is the existence of the Second Amendment. Had it been ruled that it is a "group right," you can be sure that many places would immediately move to ban all guns.

    By the way... how is that "group right" thing working out for the Michigan Militia and David Koresh?

  • ||

    WOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    No, I'm not engaging in celebratory gunfire.

  • ||

    This is not exactly the sweeping victory I'd hoped for

    not a carte-blanche right to be armed to the teeth

    um what part of "shall not be infringed" do people not get.

    I had hoped to see this play out like Roe v. Wade, with the anti-gunners spending the next 25 years bitching, moaning, protesting, and arguing about fringe issues like whether there should be background checks before machine gun sales. (Think of machine guns as a second-amendment version of a partial-birth abortion for hoplophobes)

    They should have overturned Miller and given us our full rights back. What we got is better than a kick in the teeth, though.

  • Neu Mejican||

    At second blush, they came to the correct conclusions but Scalia's justifications for those conclusions are pretty piss poor.

    I'll have to read the dissent.

  • Episiarch||

    I had hoped to see this play out like Roe v. Wade, with the anti-gunners spending the next 25 years bitching, moaning, protesting, and arguing about fringe issues like whether there should be background checks before machine gun sales.

    Me too, but I knew it wasn't going to work out that way. However, I would have liked some language about other ways that states and localities essentially ban gun ownership, such as fees, paperwork, approval from the local sheriff, and the other crap they do besides "locked and disassembled".

    They should have overturned Miller and given us our full rights back.

    At the very least removed the idiotic bans on sawed-off shotguns and silencers.

  • Neu Mejican||

    um what part of "shall not be infringed" do people not get.

    [sigh]


    Infringe: 1. To break; to violate; to transgress; to neglect to fulfill or obey; as, to infringe a law or contract.

    Unless the government "breaks" your right, they are not going beyond the common meaning of the word. Heller would be an example of such a law.

  • Ironic||

    Perhaps it will soon be safe to walk the streets of Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago and D.C..

  • db||

    Forgive the cross post, but H&R brought it on themselves by having multiple threads on this topic:

    I suspect that this will lead to a state-level push requiring registration and licensing (probably prohibitively expensive) of all firearms. The Court appears to have erred badly in not really addressing the registration and licensing issue. Acknowledging that there exists a class of "...weapons not typically posessed by law-abiding citicens for lawful purposes..." creates a gaping hole into which legislatures could conceivably dump any arm posessed by the citizenry in numbers less than some arbitrary threshold.

    The upside may be that there exists a sizeable inventory of registered machineguns (at last count approximately 180,000) that, by their lawful registration, by definition fit the "lawful purposes" requirement. This could perhaps lead to a subsequent court decision striking down 922(o) (1986 machinegun ban). However this would require a non FFL to submit an application to manufacture a machinegun, be denied by the ATFE, and then to challenge such denial in court. This would be a project where venue shopping would be key.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Having walked the streets of Philadelphia, NYC, Chicago, & DC...I would say we are half way there already.

  • ||

    There's no way that the court would have ruled in an absolutist manner.

    No matter how unconstitutional parts of the NFA and GCA are, they're not going away any time soon.

    But it doesn't matter. This is all about baby steps.

  • robc||

    NM,

    At second blush, they came to the correct conclusions but Scalia's justifications for those conclusions are pretty piss poor.


    I thought his historical smack-down of Stevens was pretty dead on. What justifications did you have problem with? The only problems I had was that his evidence seems to suggest a much wider ruling than the narrow one he wrote (which I think was necessary to get that 5th vote).

  • G. A. Harrison||

    I think "REASONABLE" is missing an important point. I don't think that many of us would disagree with a state's right to reasonably regulate ownership and possession of firearms. The problem will come when the same activist judges, who literally make up individual rights and want to make almost any issue part of Federal jurisdiction, claim that the states should regulate what is clearly a fundamental right.

    The 2nd Amendment is pretty explicit. If state or local jurisdictions can take that right away from us, why can't they take away our rights to speech or assembly? Why can't they break down our doors without a warrant?

  • Elemenope||

    What kicks me senseless about this is the number of people who believe that ordinary folk can be armed to the teeth, and yet are somehow untrustworthy when it comes to dealing with punitive awards in court. I'll trust them with my life, but not my purse!

    Anyway, like abortion, gun rights always brings out the stupid in people. It is indeed a fundamental right, but one that in most places in the country is exercised without significant encumbrance, as is clearly countenanced by the sheer number of homes with a gun, nevermind the sheer number of guns in private ownership. Chipping away at urban gun laws is a worthy task, but frothing at the mouth about how it's either semi-autos or death is really quite counterproductive.

  • robc||

    What the fuck did Breyer think he was going to pull by referencing colonial fire-safety laws?

  • ||

    The decision upholds purchase restrictions and licensing. These will be used to make an end run around the ruling, and result I'm sure was not unintended by the majority.

  • ||

    I am buying a large number of Brady campaign bumper stickers that we can place on the cars and over the thresholds of our many statist friends here in DC. I think criminals should be informed, as a public service, that these gun control supporters are still available for rape, maiming, robbery and murder, as they will not but a weapon. Just a voluntary exchange between consenting sado-masochists.

  • Neu Mejican||

    robc,

    I just felt he was engaged in some pretty weak attempts at semantic analysis and that his justifications and conclusions didn't meld into a whole very well...

    c.f., your sense that he is talking about a justification for a broader ruling, but then makes a narrower conclusion.

  • Dylan||

    What kicks me senseless about this is the number of people who believe that ordinary folk can be armed to the teeth, and yet are somehow untrustworthy when it comes to dealing with punitive awards in court. I'll trust them with my life, but not my purse!


    Um...people with guns can be arrested or shot if they go crazy. People with seats in the jury box...can't.

  • Zubon||

    No, I'm not engaging in celebratory gunfire.

    Doesn't that sound like The Onion article reporting on this ruling? "12 Killed in Gunfire Celebrating the 2nd Amendment"

  • Colin||

    One minute before the DC mayor speaks live on washingtonpost.com.

  • ||

    Let me add to the no doubt moronic discussion that will be generated by this news item, that individuals and private organizations should be able to ban or regulate carrying weapons onto their property -- just as they should be able to ban Nazi marches, vagrants, religious ceremonies etc.

    The problems of what protective technologies should be carried around in "public" is just another tragedy resulting from "public" property. You make the streets, parks,sidewalks, and schools government owned, and then you fret that everyone cannot agree on where you can pray, march, carry which weapons (mace?, guns? knives?) to protect yourself etc.

    Whether you can have a gun outside of your home is a decision that should be made by toll bridge owners, downtown business district's that own the sidewalks, home owners' associations, etc.

  • robc||

    NM,

    I made the comment about a dozen pages into it that it seemed like every semantic 2nd amendment argument between non-lawyers that I had ever been involved in. Other than the references to 300 year old documents.

    That said, Stevens got his semantic ass handed to him. It took 56 or so pages to prove the semantic argument for an individual right, then Scalia got around to the actual case and at that point I kind of agree with you. He went, individual right, we throw out the DC law, but we arent going to mess around with other laws or deal with incorporation of pick a scrutity standard, but I will mock Breyer for trying the lowest standard ever for a constitutional right (deservedly so).

  • Elemenope||

    Um...people with guns can be arrested or shot if they go crazy. People with seats in the jury box...can't.

    Wow. What a comfort for the dead guy.

    Context is everything, Dylan, and you can be forgiven for not knowing that this is a reference to a recent thread regarding Exxon's judgment getting pared down to peanuts. Wherein some fellow actually argued that punitive damages are "too complicated" for either judges or regular folk to handle.

    I'm simply pointing out I hope that a trigger safety isn't as complicated, or we're fucked.

  • gmatts||

    I think that those celebrating this ruling as a victory are going to be a bit disapointed when this ruling is cited in the future by those supporting gov't control and regulation over the use of a citizens right to bear arms.
    The majority makes it pretty clear that the gov't has rather vast powers to regulate a citizens desire to bear arms in terms of where, when and how he/she would like to exercise their 2nd ammendment right.
    All this ruling did was place a mild wrsit slap on the gov't.

  • Elemenope||

    Who is this Bruce Majors guy and why am I so, so sad he's on my side?

  • robc||

    Elemenope,

    While not commenting on the specifics, I will say that 10% of a companies quarterly profits (at the peak of the companies earnings) is not "peanuts".

  • Paul||

    barring firearms from "sensitive places" such as schools and government buildings, and regulating the sale of firearms are consistent with the Second Amendment



    Told you.

    The entire city if DC is now declared a "sensitive place".

  • Rhywun||

    Perhaps it will soon be safe to walk the streets of Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago and D.C..



    NYC is wayyy safer than those other cities - and safer than every other city over (I forget the exact figure) a few hundred thousand people - which just goes to show there's a whole lot more to "safety" than just guns.

  • ||

    What kicks me senseless about this is the number of people who believe that ordinary folk can be armed to the teeth, and yet are somehow untrustworthy when it comes to dealing with punitive awards in court. I'll trust them with my life, but not my purse!

    You don't need to trust someone to honor their right to possess something. It's when they act upon another that issues arise. Punitive damages are all about acting on others. Gun ownership is not.

  • Guy Montag||

    The most recent 2nd amendment case prior to this one already ruled that a sawed-off shotgun was not covered by the 2nd Amendment. Unless Heller overruled that, laws prohibiting "assault weapons" are likely to be okay.

    Actually, from what I remember of a discussion about that case several years ago, it was NOT ruled that a sawed-off shotgun was not covered by Amendment II, mainly because the case that it was a common defensive weapon issued to infantry soldiers was not brought up.

    Had it been shown that it was indeed a common personal defense weapon of the type mentioned in other law and rulings, it would have been fine.

    This was onw of the three cases mentioned by Justice Scalia in 1(f) of the decision (page 2 of the online version).

  • Guy Montag||

    The entire city if DC is now declared a "sensitive place".

    Well, they are a pretty sensitive bunch over there.

  • Elemenope||

    While not commenting on the specifics, I will say that 10% of a companies quarterly profits (at the peak of the companies earnings) is not "peanuts".

    It is when compared to the damage they had wrought.

  • Dello||

    "It also suggests that banning "unusual and dangerous weapons," as opposed to weapons in common use for lawful purposes, is permissible."

    Um, so since the cops around Blackwater headquarters (and other areas, no doubt) apearently use automatic rifles (AKs and Bushmasters) for what we can only assume are "lawful purposes", does that mean that I can have one now?

  • Nigel Watt||

    It is when compared to the damage they had wrought.



    Which they have already paid billions for.

  • Guy Montag||

    Um, so since the cops around Blackwater headquarters (and other areas, no doubt) apearently use automatic rifles (AKs and Bushmasters) for what we can only assume are "lawful purposes", does that mean that I can have one now?

    I think we need to get a 1986 law thrown out too, possibly with this ruling.

    When I win the lottery I will try to buy one and see how close I get to a Supreme Court hearing.

  • robc||

    Elemenope,

    2x damage they had wrought is peanuts?

    (1x for punitive, 1x for compensatory)

  • Paul||

    Did you guys catch this blistering quote?

    "Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose."



    Lmnop:

    Chipping away at urban gun laws is a worthy task, but frothing at the mouth about how it's either semi-autos or death is really quite counterproductive.

    Agreed, why then do liberals froth at the mouth so about said semi-autos?

  • ||

    "Although we do not undertake an
    exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the
    Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be
    taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the
    possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or
    laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places
    such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing
    conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale ..."

    get ready for the new health care nazis to do mandanatoray mental test on ALL children so that they can classify them as mentally ill in one of the hundreds of new mental ilnness created every year.

  • ||

    Agreed, why then do liberals froth at the mouth so about said semi-autos?



    General ignorance and therefore utter fear about internal combustion.

  • Guy Montag||

    Agreed, why then do liberals froth at the mouth so about said semi-autos?

    See? I am not a liberal! I drool when I see auto-loaders, not froth, drool!

  • Neu Mejican||

    Regarding punitive damages...

    See the recent posting on Bowles look at morality and economics.

    If the fine is not large enough it will remove the moral dimension and give the company the impression that it can buy its way into environmental abuses by simply including the fine and the cost of the damage into their accounting formula.

    The punitive damage should hurt BAD to send the moral message that the behavior is unacceptable, a moral wrong. In other words the fine needs to be a punishment, not just another line item.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Foot-dragging to deny citizens their constitutional rights can be challenged in court as civil rights violations.


    How so?

    Is it unconstitutional for a county clerk to foot drag in registering black voters?

  • ||

    They simply took a different view of it than the other five.

    That would be the view that it doesn't mean what it says.

    FUCK YOU.

    In your dreams.

    -jcr

  • Guy Montag||

  • Guy Montag||


    Among the likely regulations: Gun owners would have to be 18 or older and could not have been convicted of a felony or any weapon-related charge or have been in a mental hospital for the past five years. Registrants also will be finger-printed and required to pass a written test to be sure they understand the city's gun laws, Nickles said.

    At least initially, he added, residents would be limited to one handgun apiece. The city will set up a hotline for firearm registrations.



    From story linked to at 12:53pm

  • hamilton||

    As an aside, and speaking as someone who supports (the outcome of, though not the logic of) both this opinion and the death penalty opinion yeaterday: if the rant is that yesterday's opinion constitues "Judicial activism" in interpreting an amendment contrary to an elected representative body's decision, why is today's decision not the same?

  • Elemenope||

    Which they have already paid billions for.

    Agreed. I think that private (effective) attempts at restitution, which in this case includes cleanup efforts, should help defray the cost of judgment. This seems particularly applicable a principle for this sort of case (where the primary harm is to things held in common), but probably not so much for private harms.

    Is it unconstitutional for a county clerk to foot drag in registering black voters?

    Uh, yeah. Like he said. As far as trying it, one would have to show that the foot-dragging was racially motivated, either by establishing a pattern of behavior on similar cases or through comments and documents to that effect.

  • ||

    Is it unconstitutional for a county clerk to foot drag in registering black voters?

    Of course. Rights delayed are rights denied. Otherwise, we would still be waiting for the millionth draft of the plan to begin desegregating schools in Boston.

  • ||

    Although I'll never get to have that chimney mounted remote control machine gun for home protection I've always dreamed of, I pretty sure that the right to have a handgun in our homes to project us, and to use it when necessary is written in stone now.

  • Guy Montag||

    cens,

    Scroll up and see just how hard that stone is at the moment.

  • ||

    they didn't have to draft many plans to desegregate boston...all the white people moved to one of the surrounding 100 separate school districts.

    The single desegragated school district in Montgomery Alabama is the same geographical size as about 100 districts in the boston area.

  • Gabe Harris||

    this affirms the rights of the feds to take away the 2nd amendment for any mental illness...I used to wonder why the feds are so concerned with diagnosing every intelligent, athletic male in the country with ADHD before they get out of junior high school.

    now we know.

  • ||

    Of course. Rights delayed are rights denied. Otherwise, we would still be waiting for the millionth draft of the plan to begin desegregating schools in Boston.

    Yeah, except that conflict is easier to resolve when the conflict is between Federal and State or State and Local. In NH, there's an ongoing fight over school funding, which the court ruled was unconstitutional in the early 90's. The state has yet to resolve it. Not for lack of trying, there's just no consensus on the issue to enable the necessary legislation.

    Thus, Court vs. Executive battles, at the same level of government, can clearly last for years, since the Court has no force behind them beyond their role as a legitimate authority.

  • ||

    Anyone who has ever taken prozac can be defined to be mentally ill.

  • ||

    are people following you? you must be paranoid schitzophrenic...you don't have the right to have a handgun.

  • ||

    I suspect that this will lead to a state-level push requiring registration and licensing (probably prohibitively expensive) of all firearms. The Court appears to have erred badly in not really addressing the registration and licensing issue.

    You are right that the Court did not address that issue, and at first sight left the door open for the State to utilize such tactics. However, it can be argued that a licensing law that makes it prohibitively expensive to buy a gun for any citizen violates the 2nd amendment in exactly the same way as gun lock requirements and direct hand gun bans violate the 2nd amendment right of people. It may make such tactics more difficult in the future, not easier. And for that, I am glad.

    So, the SCOTUS gave Americans back their 2nd amendment and habeas corpus...

    Now, next on the agenda... the 4th amendment, the 5th amendment, the 10 amendment... the 1st amendment...

  • robc||

    NM,

    You misread Bowles. The size of the fine doesnt matter. Both a small and large fine "remove the moral dimension" and turn it into a business expense. In the case of the large fine, its just an expense that you cant afford so you protect against.

  • ||

    It says that DC's ban would be unconstitutional under any level of scrutiny used for any enumerated rights.

    If this means substantive due process under the fifth, the standard could be as weak as rational basis. It is hard to square that with the ruling since rational basis can be used to support any law not completely divorced from reality and the burden of proof is on the petitioner, not the gov't. Heller would have to prove that there is no rational relationship between the gun ban and the legitimate government interest of preventing crime.

    This ruling seems to suggest that we are looking at at least intermediate scrutiny (substantial relationship between the law and an important gov't interest with the burden of proof on the gov't).

    The other unanswered question in this 64 page ruling is if the right applies to state under the 14th.

    Sigh. It looks like we have two decades of rulings on this matter to really muddy the issue.

    Note to future law students: pay attention to these cases. They will be on the Constitutional Law final.

  • Mr. X||

    Note to future law students: pay attention to these cases. They will be on the Constitutional Law final.

    After a couple of years, they will. Professors generally avoid brand new shit.

  • Elemenope||

    So, the SCOTUS gave Americans back their 2nd amendment and habeas corpus...

    This is deceptive hope indeed. To call the court that did the first and the court that did the second "the same court" betrays the obvious fact that the justices who voted yes on the first voted no on the second and vice versa (except of course the ever-purple Kennedy).

    We can have a court that cares about habeas or a court that cares about right to arms, but apparently outside of this hideous monstrosity precariously balanced today, we are not ever likely to have a court care about both at the same time again.

  • robc||

    Elemenope,

    We can have a court that cares about habeas or a court that cares about right to arms, but apparently outside of this hideous monstrosity precariously balanced today, we are not ever likely to have a court care about both at the same time again.

    The worst thing is that the justice who seems the least likely to actually read the constitution or research past writings is the only one on the correct side of both.

  • Elemenope||

    The worst thing is that the justice who seems the least likely to actually read the constitution or research past writings is the only one on the correct side of both.

    Well, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world, isn't it?

  • ||

    So, the SCOTUS gave Americans back their . . . habeas corpus

    Sigh. No, not really. As far as I know, habeas corpus for Americans has not been denied, even by the Bushreich, and was not the issue in Boumedienne, which dealt with whether habeas corpus extended to foreign nationals held in facilities under American control.

    C'mon, people. Reality-based, remember?

  • Guy Montag||

    But R C Dean, remember, everybody is equal, everywhere. Even the animals. Meat is murder, insurgents are freedom fighters and unlawful combatants need the same protections as lawful combatants.

    Think of the Polar Bears!

  • Neu Mejican||

    robc,

    Regarding Bowles...

    No, I don't think I misread Bowles, but your reading is not too off base.

    The size of the fine is a signal of the "wrongness" of the act being fined. If large enough it can be a signal to the actor and remind them of the moral dimension of their act. That's all any punishment does, really, is remind the actor of the moral dimension by imposing a cost.

  • IANAL||

    Among the likely regulations: Gun owners would have to be 18 or older and could not have been convicted of a felony or any weapon-related charge or have been in a mental hospital for the past five years.

    Interesting. Current Federal law requires a handgun purchaser anywhere in the United States to be at least 21 and never to have been convicted of a felony or spent time in a mental hospital.

  • Paul||

    ...or spent time in a mental hospital.

    Even on a visit?

  • ||

    It seems they are still ignoring the "shall not be infringed" part.

  • ||

    [sigh]

    Infringe: 1. To break; to violate; to transgress; to neglect to fulfill or obey; as, to infringe a law or contract.

    Unless the government "breaks" your right, they are not going beyond the common meaning of the word. Heller would be an example of such a law.


    No, "infringe" is not a synonym for "break". In common meaning, to infringe is to somewhat violate or encroach upon, as witnessed by these definitions:

    Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law:

    infringe -- to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another

    Dictionary.com:

    infringe -- to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress

    American Heritage Dictionary:

    infringe -- to transgress or exceed the limits of; violate

  • ||

    Abdul wrote:

    "The most recent 2nd amendment case prior to this one already ruled that a sawed-off shotgun was not covered by the 2nd Amendment. Unless Heller overruled that, laws prohibiting 'assault weapons' are likely to be okay."

    I disagree. "Miller" said that, if anything, the 2nd Amendment protected the right to keep and bear weapons that might normally be used in militia service. Check out the National Guard and police SWAT teams. They have "assault weapons," even bigger and nastier ones than those the much-maligned federal and state "assault weapons" bans covered. We expect our militias to have such weapons. So it seems to me that under Heller, individuals are also seen as having rightful access to AKs and the like. We'll see what happens when the inevitable challenges get to court. I am hoping that, here in California, the trigger-lock requirement and the statewide ban on assault weapons are overturned. Having to go to Nevada to shoot AK-47s legally is a drag, and having a trigger lock on one's firearm -- as acknowledged in Heller -- diminishes or negates a firearm's effectiveness as a weapon of self-defense.

    The point of Miller, by the way, was that a sawed-off shotgun was an unusual weapon that was not normally carried by militia, military infantry, etc. As noted by someone else above, had any evidence been presented during the adjudication process to show that such weapons were in fact used by US militia, the ruling would almost certainly have gone the other way -- at least to the extent that the justices relied on their "militia-class weapons" argument.

    Finally, I agree with Craig about the definition of "infringe." I think that we will see cases that focus on this word to challenge licensing practices in the relatively near future. If a license fee or a non-violent felony can keep someone from legally owning a firearm, for example, that certainly seems like unfair "infringement" to me. As did another poster above, I worry now that those who want stricter gun control will contrive to declare more people mentally ill or lawbreakers, at least to the point of being ineligible to exercise 2nd Amendment rights. That would be very petty, but I've seen worse behavior by those who rule or would rule, so I won't be surprised if it happens.

  • ||

    I did want to congratulate the court for upholding plain English and common sense, however. The Heller ruling appears to be the "partial loaf," for which "pragmatic" people are always exhorting libertarians to settle. The unequivocal declarations that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, and that the militia clause informs but does not restrict the RKBA clause, were right on and long overdue. Heller seems to have enhanced individual liberty, even if it did not go as far as some 2nd Amendment absolutists would like. Heller appears to be a step or two toward greater liberty, rather than the one step forward, two steps back "compromises" that we more usually get out of our political and judicial systems. (If anyone with sharper eyes than mine, however, sees this as a one-forward, two-back situation, please explain how and why! In that case, it's better for us all to know about it as soon as possible!)

  • Neu Mejican||

    Craig,

    Regarding infringe:

    Break, breach, violate, trangress, whatever. None of these are equivalent to "place a procedural requirement on" nor "limit in specific ways" nor simply "encroach."

    Your use of "somewhat violate" is telling as it does not appear in any of the definitions you cite...all of which use something like "exceed the limits of" and imply an excessive encroachment.

  • ||

    You gotta love people who insist that the meaning of a document that people have been arguing over for years is plain and obvious.

    What is wrong with such people? Are they just to incredibly intellectually insulated that they've managed to live for several decades without actually being exposed to the other side's arguments?

    Are they so in love with their own supposed intellectual superiority that they simply take for granted that a dissenting opinion must not only be wrong, but be obviously wrong?

    Either way, regarless of the issue, "What part of____________don't you understand?" is functionally equivalent to announcing that you don't understand the issue very well.

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