Weapons of War?

Feb 23, 2017
There are controversial judicial rulings and then there are controversial judicial rulings that upon closer examination aren't really controversial at all. Unless, of course, you consider judges interpreting the law to mean "whatever they want it to mean."

That's probably a fairly good description of the decision rendered by an en-banc panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeals which upholds Maryland's ban on "assault weapons". Further, the 10-4 majority opinion goes on to say that such "weapons of war" are not protected by the Second Amendment.

If you own a muzzleloader, lever action carbine or virtually any other rifle that was once carried by soldiers- anywhere- your initial response is probably "huh?"

If you read American history, you'll quickly realize that virtually every gun owned by anyone has a direct connection to the military. And that's what's most disturbing about the Fourth Circuit's ruling.

"Simply put" opined Judge Robert King (a Clinton appointee) in the majority opinion, "we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war."

Pardon me, Judge King, but your reach is so far beyond the pale that your fellow jurist, dissenting Judge William Traxler (a George H.W. Bush appointee) responded in the dissenting opinion that the 10 judge majority "has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms."

All this ties directly back to the core liberal/conservative fight over the Second Amendment: did the founding fathers write about an individual right? Or were they specifying the gear a militia member would be expected to produce in an emergency.

The National Rifle Association's response was quite clear, classifying the ruling as "absurd" saying the ruling essentially disqualified the most popular rifle in America from Second Amendment protections.

But don't forget, that if this silly ruling were to survive, it wouldn't be much of a reach- at least for lawyers and legislators- to extend the withdrawal of protections to everything from bolt action rifles and pump shotguns (trench guns in World Wars I & II and Vietnam) to the venerable cowboy action lever guns carried by the U.S. Army in the 1800s.

Will this one head to the Supreme Court?

But with the District of Columbia and Chicago still thumbing their noses at the high court after rulings that should have repealed their oppressive anti-gun regulations, what real difference would it make?

When it comes to protecting the enumerated right defined in the Second Amendment, the United States Supreme Court isn't just divided.

It's toothless.

Why should any state or local official be concerned with the "supreme court" and its rulings if the court itself lacks the conviction to compel compliance?

Unenforced rules aren't rules, they're suggestions.

--Jim Shepherd