The 4th Circuit’s anti-2nd Amendment ruling was blatant judicial activism. This is clear to every gun-rights activists and constitutional scholar. And the entire opinion was based on an intentional misrepresentation of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Heller decision.
For those that may not know, the Heller ruling was a Supreme Court decision that correctly interpreted the 2nd Amendment. It guaranteed an individual American’s right to own firearm(s) for self-defense. According to Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in the case, they concluded that the only weapons that can be banned without violating Americans 2nd Amendment right are those that are both “dangerous and unusual.”
This is where the 4th Circuit Court chose to twist the Heller decision to mean something entirely different. They pretended as if Scalia’s opinion said that certain rifles could be banned if they were “dangerous OR unusual,” not “dangerous AND unusual.”
The 4th Circuit used their egregious misinterpretation as a weapon (no pun intended) against AR style rifles. They insisted that this particular style of rifle may not be “unusual,” but was still “dangerous” when compared to other guns.
How did they justify such this assumption?
Well, the 4th Circuit decided on their own accord that AR style semi-automatic rifles are “most useful” in a military context. This standard of “most useful” in the military is obviously absurd for a number of reasons.
First, the AR platform is not used in the military. It never has been used in the military. This makes calling the AR “dangerous” based on the fact that it is “most useful” in the military both ironic and absolutely foolish.
Secondly, there’s a lack of difference in the functionality of ARs and semi-auto hunting rifles.
The AR platforms they are banning are semi-autos (one trigger pull equals one bullet fired), shoot a variety of rifle ammunition, and have a barrel that is at least 16″ long. Similarly, most hunting rifles are semi-autos, shoot a variety of rifle ammunition, and have a barrel that is at least 16″ long. The only difference is that one generally comes in a scary black metal and the other in pretty wood or wood-looking material.
Even if you took an old 1942 M1 Carbine (that’s a 74 year old wooden rifle) and compared it to an AR, there’s still not much difference in functionality. There both semi-autos that can be shot at basically the same rate, with generally comparable (not exactly the same) rifle ammunition.
Lastly, there’s the fact that our founding fathers used Muskets in war. Why is this important?
Well, if we’re assuming it’s constitutional to ban firearms because thy’re “most useful” in the military, muskets wouldn’t even be covered under the 2nd Amendment. Because if muskets were used in the military to wage war, they would clearly fit the definition of “most useful” in the military, even more so than AR’s.
In fact, I read a story a few weeks ago about the army switching from the brand Beretta to Sig Sauer for, guess what? Handguns. This means the 4th Circuit’s atrocious overreach would reasonably qualify handguns as a firearm that can be banned under the non-existent “most useful” in the military clause.
What this appeals court was really upholding is a ban on the cosmetics of the AR, not it’s functionality. They were comparing the AR platform to an M16 or M4, which is completely irrational. The functionally of these rifles are drastically different, with the most obvious difference being that the M16 and M4 are both full-auto capable (one trigger pull equals continuous firing until released).
In short, the Heller case did not set a precedent for banning weapons because they are used, or could be used, in the military. It set the precedent that guns could only be banned it they were both “dangerous and unusual,” and not “in common use at the time.”
The 4th Circuit’s anti-2nd Amendment ruling was just another blatant overreach by activist judges attempting to take away the rights of citizens to “keep and bear arms.” And one only needs to read the 2nd Amendment and a few quotes of James Madison, the author of the 2nd Amendment, to fully grasp the absurdity of such a ruling as this.