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The Devil’s in the Definition

ar15-tw-m15-ruger-682x382-1426183524Earlier this week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond voted 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s assault-weapons ban, including the highly-popular AR-15 (pictured, left).  The votes fell straight down party lines, based on the President who appointed the respective judges.  This ruling essentially says the Second Amendment does not protect our right to own so-called assault weapons.  In order for a weapon to be banned, all one has to do is classify it properly.

Writing for the majority, Judge Robert King (a Clinton appointee) argued that the Second Amendment does not protect “weapons of war.”   Your Honor—I have bad news for you.  If the US military (or any other military) were equipped only with AR-15’s, they could not successfully wage war against Fiji. Plus, he was intentionally light on what constitutes a “weapon of war.”  You can wage war with pebbles.  Hell, you can “wage war” with words.

As for the “assault rifle” canard…it is not.  Not by the generally-accepted definition of an assault rifle.  Civilian AR-15s only have a semi-automatic setting, not automatic.  The AR-15 is a hunting rifle. It has just been made to look like a military weapon. It carries (more or less) the same lethality as the .22 rifle I had when I was 10 years old. The only reason it is being targeted is because it was used in some high-profile shootings…and that it “looks scary.”  That is NOT the basis for a legal prohibition. It is instead the basis for someone to appeal to emotion rather than fact.

I love how the court cites Sandy Hook and other mass shootings where AR-15s and similar weapons were used. They then rule that the government can mandate that We the People possess LESS firepower than the persons perpetrating these massacres.  In essence, they’re telling us that our rights are determined by the actions of criminals.

During every push for gun control, the supporters of such measure go through great pains to remind us gun-owners that “no one is coming after your guns.”  In one sense, they are correct. I don’t envision a day where (ironically) armed federal agents conduct door-to-door sweeps, entering homes and looking for guns to confiscate. In today’s social media world, such images would quickly galvanize opposition. The end result would be messy.

No, statists will achieve these means like they always have…one inch at a time. Major changes are rarely implemented overnight. They are done over several generations. First, you come up with a catchy pejorative that describes the item/activity you want eliminated. You let that marinate for a while until young adults have grown up in a world with that term as part of their lexicon.  That’s when you up the ante, getting a little more specific with your target.

I will freely admit, I was spooked years ago when the Heller decision came down as a 5-4 ruling.  We were literally one vote away from losing what I see as basic Constitutional rights.  That should scare the hell out of everyone.  While the future Supreme Court makeup looks to be similar, I still am worried.  But I think the inevitable appeal will come down to another 5-4 ruling in favor of We the People.  The only good thing about this week’s ruling is it will allow us to read Justice Gorsuch’s searing majority opinion when SCOTUS overturns this ridiculous ruling.


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