Sunday, January 25, 2015

IL: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear 'Assault Weapon' Ban Case

The 7th Circuit federal court of appeals will hear a case against a local ban on some common rifles, handguns, shotguns, and magazines.  The city of Highland Park, notorious for its anti-second amendment laws, passed an ordinance that requires residents to turn in, modify or remove the banned items from the city.   Ordinance 136(pdf) deals with "Assault Weapons".  The ordinance includes very broad boilerplate language.   Some claim that the ordinance was lifted from the City of Chicago.

The definitions are broad and cover most semi-automatic rifles, and a fair number of pistols and shotguns.   Highland Park has a very low crime rate, so it is hard to justify the ban as having any practical effect, except to anger second amendment supporters and to make a symbolic statement.  

I found particularly amusing the fact that the ban seems to include nearly all airsoft guns.  The ordinance includes a ban on all "Large Capacity Magazines" and has a very broad definition of what a firearm is.   From the ordinance:
(F) "Firearm" means any device, by whatever name known, which is
designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas or escape of gas, excluding however:
Any pneumatic gun, spring gun or B-B gun which expels a
single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inches in diameter;
As most airsoft guns use expansion of gas, or escape of gas to propel projectiles  of greater than .18 inches in diameter, and have magazine capacities of more than 10 rounds, they seem to be included.   No one seems to have been prosecuted under the ordinance to date.

Courthouse news reports that the attorney for the plaintiffs, who say that the ban is clearly unconstitutional, were well prepared.  The city attorney, not so much.  Volks is the pro-second amendment attorney, Wilson the attorney for the disarmists, Easterbrook one of the judges on the panel.   :
"But you haven't pointed to one study showing that assault weapons are better for self defense than handguns," the judge said.
Vogts was clearly prepared for this. "They are accurate, reliable and easy to use. They have many attributes useful for self-defense. They are some of the safest as well because they use lightweight rounds less likely to go through walls and hit a family member during self-defense. This is essentially the technological evolution of firearms."
Highland Park's attorney, Christopher Wilson, generally seemed far less prepared for the grilling he received. He repeatedly stumbled and referred to Blackstone before an impassive Easterbrook.
"This doesn't implicate Heller or the Second Amendment ..." Wilson began.
Easterbrook laughed: "That's ridiculous! Of course it implicates it."
"No," Wilson replied, " the right is not a right to carry just any weapon, but a right to carry handguns."
Easterbrook picked up the plaintiffs' logic: "The Supreme Court said that commonly owned weapons are covered, and plaintiffs say these are commonly owned. If we don't know whether that's the case, then summary judgment was inappropriate."
It is far too early to predict the outcome of this case.  While those who have studied the second amendment might expect a quick striking down of the law, the district court upheld it, essentially holding that second amendment protections were very, very narrow.  In the Courthouse News article, no references were made to U.S. v Miller, where the Supreme Court held that arms that were effective for militia use were protected. 

Clearly, semi-automatic firearms are useful for militias.  The Seventh Circuit may also provide guidance on what the court considers as 'common'.   The plaintiffs say that many of the banned guns are "common".  As the AR and AK style rifles are some of the most popular in the country, it is a severe stretch to claim that they are not 'common'.   I have seen disarmists attempt to do so by saying that they are only 'three percent of all guns' or similar arguments.

Of course, using that logic, you could ban all guns as uncommon.   Even the most popular of firearms would have to have production figures of 9 million to reach a 3% definition of common.  Even the ubiquitous model 94 Winchester was not produced  in those quantities. 

 Definition of  disarmist 

 ©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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