The Supreme Court may take up a new gun-control case this session, which has to do with whether assault weapons bans are Constitutional. The case, Friedman et al v. City of Highland Park, asks whether the government has the right to prohibit paranoid, ammosexual bunker builders from owning some of the most dangerous guns available. It also asks whether assault weapons fall under constitutionally protected classes of weapons or if they belong in armories with Stinger missiles and land mines.
When Illinois made it legal to carry a gun in the state, they gave individual cities ten days to come up with their own laws regarding assault weapons or forfeit their right to do so. Highland Park was one of less than 20 towns to develop such a law. Every town in Illinois with such laws is in Chicagoland.
The suit, filed by Dr. Arie Friedman and the Illinois State Rifle Association, alleges that Highland Park violated people’s Constitutional rights when they banned popular assault weapons and magazines that hold more than ten rounds. ISRA is an affiliate of the NRA, so of course they would go after any laws that limit guns in any way at all.
The appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision that Highland Park’s assault weapons ban is constitutional, by a vote of 2-1. The Huffington Post says Judge Daniel Manion’s dissent contained the following:
‘To limit self-defense to only those methods acceptable to the government’ creates an ‘enormous transfer of authority from the citizens of this country to the government – a result directly contrary to our Constitution and to our political tradition.’
Here’s the problem: When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion for the Heller case, he said that even Constitutional freedoms must necessarily have limits on them:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.[…]
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’
Justice Scalia is arguably the most conservative judge we have on the bench in the Supreme Court. People would do well to listen to him, because this is one instance where he actually makes a very good point. Most of our Constitutional rights have some type of limit on them, and for good reason. It’s absolutely baffling the way conservatives have honed in on the Second Amendment as the one that must have zero limits, lest we slide down into the depths of hellish dictatorship.
The Court may finally be asked to clarify what they mean by the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons,” and also to explain whether keeping assault weapons to defend the home qualifies as something that can be constitutionally limited. There are other things in that decision they may have to clarify, too, if they decide to hear the case.
Thus far, the Court hasn’t taken any cases that would require them to clarify the Heller and McDonald decisions. This may be the first, and it may also end up in a long line of cases like this that the Supreme Court has refused, which would allow the appeals court’s ruling to stand.
Should the Supreme Court decide not to hear this case, no doubt the right, and especially the NRA, will start talking about the inevitable “liberal agenda” of total gun confiscation. Same thing if they do hear the case, and rule next year that the assault weapons ban stands.
Featured image by IIIBlackhartIII. Licensed under Public Domain via Pixabay