October 12, 2020
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to ban certain types of semi-automatic firearms that are rarely used in crimes. These firearms are also commonly owned; estimates from 2018 peg the number owned in the U.S. at more than 16 million,” the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action noted in a late-September article titled “The Truth about ‘Assault Weapons’.”
“So why are Biden and his would-be Florida man, Michael Bloomberg, so focused on these semi-automatic firearms?” ILA asks. “Why are certain types of semi-automatic rifles ‘uniquely deserving of prohibition?’”
They make all the arguments we’ve seen before, including, that, contrary to what the antis claim, the firearms being banned are not “weapons of war,” that they only fire one round for each trigger pull, that they are not as “powerful” as many hunting rifles, and that they are not “uniquely lethal.”
Of course, they want to take our guns. All our guns.
Those are all correct contentions. As is the prediction that if a national ban is enacted, the grabbers will come after handguns next. That was the original goal anyway, and what Brady founder Nelson “Pete” Shields essentially called for back before they put the mask on and it was called the National Council to Control Handguns, and then Handgun Control, Inc.
“Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time,” Shields told the New Yorker in 1976. “The first problem is to slow down the number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition-except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors-totally illegal.”
Aren’t we forgetting something?
Nonetheless, even though they’re “right,” NRA is burying the larger picture by omitting the core purpose of the Second Amendment in its moral and legal arguments. They are ignoring our God-given given right to defend ourselves, our families, and our liberty against tyranny, and our ability to do so with what Continental Congress delegate Tench Coxe called “the sword and every other terrible implement of the soldier.” He and the other Founders considered that “the birthright of an American,” and leaving that contention, and “the Militia of the several States” out of the argument, gives those who would deny our rights all the wiggle room they need to weasel-word their way into whatever infringements they usurp the power to impose.
Let me give you a case in point – a case from last year, as a matter of fact, in the matter of Wilson v. Cook County. NPR reported the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on “assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, affirming a lower court decision that found the regulations to be constitutional.”
How did the learned justices arrive at that judicial contortion, at least without getting their ankles stuck behind their ears?
“[L]awyers for the two gun owners wrote that the ‘frequency of the criminal threats faced’ in the Chicago area should be considered in deciding whether restrictions infringe on a gun owner's Second Amendment rights,” the NPR report explained. “The court, however, did not find that logic persuasive, saying the gun laws did not prevent citizens from acquiring other types of weapons for self-protection.”
"Our discussion of self-defense focused instead on the availability of other means for citizens to defend themselves," the court wrote in its decision (they actually “concluded, as our sister circuits had, that ‘reduc[ing] the overall dangerousness of crime’ and making the public feel safer were ‘substantial’ interests that justified the city’s action…”
“Feelings,” the song goes. “Nothing more than feelings.” That’s what those bent on citizen disarmament rely on manipulating among the uninformed, who not only don’t realize they’re being swindled, but revel in it.
Relying strictly on “self-defense” allows the same cheesy excuse-making that courts engage in when they say you can’t open carry because the state offers concealed carry permits—even if some of them are “may [not] issue.” Follow this trail long enough and you don’t need a gun because you can have a sword, or a club if that’s not allowed, or a rock…
Still, it’s not like the complaint didn’t raise a limited point about the Militia. The problem is, stare decisis has steered the discussion so far away from “shall not be infringed,” that even raising the issue admits ways for the courts to torpedo the argument. The “questions presented” in the cert petition asking the Supreme Court to hear Wilson practically admit as much:
“1. Whether the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution allows a local government to prohibit law-abiding residents from possessing and protecting themselves and their families with a class of rifles and ammunition magazines that are ‘in common use at [this] time’ and are not ‘dangerous and unusual.’”
“2. Whether the Seventh Circuit’s method of analyzing Second Amendment issues – a three-part test which asks whether (1) a regulation bans weapons that were common at the time of ratification or (2) those that have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia and (3) whether law-abiding citizens retain adequate means of self-defense – is consistent with this Court’s holding in Heller.”
All things considered, that’s pretty weak tea. “Common at the time of ratification” leaves us using powder horns. And “self-defense” against tyranny is what the Founders intended.
The function of the militia was — and is — to field citizen soldiers. And these citizens must bear arms that are suitable for that purpose, “ordinary military equipment” intended to be taken into “common defense” battles. Back then it was the musket or the Kentucky rifle. Today, we’re talking modern “weapons of war.”
The militia deemed “necessary to the security of as free State” was conceived with the intent to match and best a professional military threat. Anything less would have been sending “the people” off to their slaughter. The Founders weren’t idiots, but those who would allow latter-day treasonous domestic enemies to subvert their grand vision certainly are.
Wilson is a moot point anyway. To no one’s surprise, the Supreme Court declined to hear it. Some say that’s best, at least until Amy Coney Barrett gets confirmed. Others, myself included, wonder if even that may not be enough to override Chief Justice John Roberts’ seemingly chronic treachery.
Purposes and Objectives
One of the reasons it’s surprising that NRA is AWOL on arguing a militia rationale is that the Association’s Bylaws specifically acknowledge it. Unfortunately, those running things there don’t seem to want to post that document online, which is a shame, because members ought to be able to hold officers and directors to them. Until that changes, members need to contact NRA and ask them to mail a copy – maybe if enough do, Fairfax will figure it’s cheaper to make them available in a “members only” section on their website.
I’m specifically referring to Article II, Purposes and Objectives, section 1, which states:
“To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such Constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms, in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property, as well as to serve effectively in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the Republic and the individual liberty of its citizens.”
The closest NRA comes on its “assault weapon” article is to mention and link to a June, 2020 Tennessee Law Review abstract by E. Gregory Wallace of the Campbell University School of Law titled “'Assault Weapon' Lethality.” While that paper emphasizes just what the title implies, Prof. Wallace does not neglect to address the core issue so many “gun rights” groups are loath to broach in their legal filings.
“The final flaw in the ‘weapons of war’ analogy is that the Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized that the Second Amendment protects military or military-style small arms commonly used by civilians,” Wallace writes. “As District of Columbia v. Heller explains, ‘[i]n the colonial and revolutionary era, [small arms] weapons used by militiamen and weapons used in defense of person and home were one and the same.’ The Court in United States v. Miller recognized that citizens have the right to possess weapons that are part of the militia’s ‘ordinary military equipment’ or that ‘could contribute to the common defense.’
“While Heller rejects the dissent’s narrow reading of Miller to protect ‘only those weapons useful in warfare (which, if true, would prove this point with even greater force), it clarifies that the ‘ordinary military equipment’ referenced in Miller also includes civilian small arms commonly used for lawful purposes,” Wallace elaborates. “Such firearms do not lose their constitutional protection because they are ‘weapons of war.’” Neither do any arms, as Texe Coxe made clear in his "every other terrible implement" assertion.
Back to the Original Question
“So why are Biden and his would-be Florida man, Michael Bloomberg, so focused on these semi-automatic firearms?” I repeat NRA’s questions from the start of this article. “Why are certain types of semi-automatic rifles ‘uniquely deserving of prohibition?’”
Who thinks it’s really because ambitious, oath-breaking politicians -- and their wealth and power-consumed string-pullers -- are also consumed with enacting “commonsense gun safety legislation” throughout the Republic “for the children” and for the sake of us all? Anyone? Bueller…?
Then how about because the one thing that scares the living hell out of them is an armed citizenry, the most egalitarian power-sharing arrangement yet conceived, with the capability to say “No” to would-be tyrants -- and to back it up? How about because that’s the one thing that stands in their way from establishing a “monopoly of violence,” with the power to do whatever it wants and to get away with it every time?
How about because, when you get right down to it, what they really demand is “commonsense totalitarian safety legislation”?