Obama has made gun control a key issue of his second term – likely because he’s aware of its unpopularity. We’ve recently sat through his annual round of executive orders on gun control – and if any of them actually worked, it’s a wonder why he needs to keep issuing more.
Obama bragged about teaching constitutional law at his last State of the Union address, so I’ll expect he knows the latest actions on gun rights are completely out of his control.
Via Jazz Shaw at HotAir:
While it’s not a done deal yet, there’s a good chance that we may finally be receiving a final decision from the Supreme Court on the question of so called “assault weapons” bans. Back in December, gun rights activists were largely disappointed when SCOTUS decided they would not hear an appeal to Illinois’ assault weapons ban, allowing a lower court ruling in favor of the law to stand. At the time, I speculated that they were waiting for more lower courts to weigh in on similar challenges around the country to see if there was some sort of consensus or if the states were divided and in need of clarification from above.
This week that question may have been answered. The 4th Circuit, hearing a Maryland case, went the other way, overturning a ban on AR-15 style rifles and expanded capacity magazines. (Baltimore Sun)
“In a 2-1 decision applauded by gun rights advocates, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit concluded that the semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines banned by Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act “are in common use by law-abiding citizens.” As a result, they don’t fall under the exception to the right to bear arms that applies to “unusual” weapons such as machine guns and hand grenades, the court said.”
The court hasn’t given a final ruling on “assault weapons” but they have provided some limits to Second Amendment rights in the Heller decision when it comes to “unusual” weapons. The original candidate for that classification was the short barrel (or sawed off) shotgun, but it also included weapons of war such as grenades and rocket launchers. The 4th circuit has wisely recognized that a semi-automatic rifle – particularly one already owned by tens of millions of Americans who break no laws with them – are hardly unusual. And as we’ve discussed in the past, not only is the typical AR-15 with a .223 round a relatively underpowered varmint rifle, it’s rarely used in homicides. The Slate author is quick to note Hillary Clinton’s favorite talking point about 33 thousand people killed by firearms, but purposely ignores the specifics when it comes to the rifles under discussion. Roughly two thirds of those firearms deaths were suicides, but of the 8,124 homicides committed in 2014 using firearms, the FBI reminds us that the number killed by rifles of any sort was a pittance.
The actual number of killings done with AR-15 style rifles is more likely in the dozens. If the Supreme Court chooses to hold to their own previously stated standards, the term “assault rifle” should be done away with entirely and these weapons should be looped in with the rest of the firearms in widespread, legal, safe use.</em>
Believe it or not, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Supreme Court were to vote in favor of gun rights in this case. In the most recent landmark case on gun control, D.C. vs Heller in 2008, the Court voted 5-4 in favor of striking down D.C.’s handgun ban. So-called “assault weapons” are involved in fewer crimes than handguns, so if the court is consistent, it’s going to have to vote similarly – even if Obama doesn’t like it.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]