Massachusetts Ban on Most Self?Defense Firearms Violates Second Amendment

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CATO.ORG October 29, 2019 – Massachusetts
law presently prohibits ownership of “assault weapons,” the statutory
definition of which involves the most well-known semi-automatic rifles in the
nation, as properly as “copies or duplicates” of any such weapons. As for what
that suggests, your guess is as great as ours.

A group of plaintiffs, which includes two firearm dealers and the Gun Owners’ Action League, challenged the law as an unconstitutional violation of their Second Amendment rights. Sadly, each a federal trial judge and appellate court upheld the ban—though they could not agree on why. The trial judge followed the lead of the Maryland case of Kolbe v. Hogan (in which Cato filed a brief supporting a petition to the Supreme Court), misconstruing from a shred of the landmark 2008 Supreme Court opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller that the test for irrespective of whether a class of weapons could be banned was irrespective of whether it was “like an M-16.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Initially Circuit (in which Cato also filed a short), conjured up a complicated interest-balancing test that boiled down to a considerably easier query: is it like a handgun? If not, the weapon is not sufficiently “well-suited” to self-defense in the dwelling and can be banned. Each tests contravene the core holding of Heller that all weapons in popular civilian use are constitutionally protected. The plaintiffs are now asking the Supreme Court to hear their case.

Cato, joined by numerous organizations interested in the protection of our civil liberties, has filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs’ petition. We talk about how the federal circuit courts have, absent additional guidance from the Supreme Court, stumbled about in the dark in their attempts to apply Heller’s “common use” test.

Though
the courts have uniformly looked to statistical information of some kind in
establishing popular use, they have been unable to agree on what the relevant
statistic is. The total quantity of the banned weapons owned, the percentage the
banned weapons constitute of the total national arms stock, and the quantity of
jurisdictions in which the banned weapons are lawful have all been utilized to
establish the breadth of constitutional protection. By any metric, having said that, the
weapons banned by the Massachusetts law are clearly in “common use.”

Quite a few
circuits have also added their personal private touches onto Heller’s
test. In this case, the Initially Circuit panel twisted the “common use” test and
looked at irrespective of whether the banned weapons have “commonly been used for dwelling
self-defense purposes
,” alternatively of for any lawful objective. The panel also
followed numerous other courts in balancing the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment
interests against these of the government, regardless of the Supreme Court’s express
rejection of an interest-balancing method in Heller and the
adhere to-up case McDonald v. City of Chicago.

This
skewing of legal frameworks is specifically troublesome exactly where the Supreme Court
has remained silent on the scope of the suitable to hold and bear arms for the
final decade, top to a fractured and unpredictable state of the law.

Currently,
the majority of firearms sold in the United States for self-defense are illegal
in Massachusetts. The reduce courts erred in upholding this abridgment of Bay
State residents’ rights. The state law is unconstitutional on its face, even though
the rationales supplied to uphold it lack legal or historical foundation. We
urge the Supreme Court to hear the plaintiffs’ case and make clear that the
Second Amendment is not a second-class suitable.

The Supreme Court will choose later this fall irrespective of whether to take up Worman v. Healey. [view source]

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