A federal appeals court ruled in late February that a Maryland law banning many semi-automatic rifles was perfectly constitutional. The ruling states:
We conclude — contrary to the now-vacated decision of our prior panel — that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment.
The referenced banned weapons include “…semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;” and “AR-15″s among others.
These weapons are referred to as “weapons of war” in the ruling. The court seemingly misunderstands the concept of “weapons of war” though. The United States military uses rifles with burst and full auto fire capacity. Civilian semi-automatic firearms are fundamentally different, and these types of rulings are akin to calling every Chevy Monte Carlo a race car just because it looks like one on the outside. Beyond definitions though, what if they kind of are “weapons of war” anyway? Just in case?
When the original intent of the constitution is honestly considered is it more likely that the right to bear arms is meant to only protect the right of people to protect themselves from burglars and violent crime or are there greater possibilities? Could the 2nd amendment also be some type of doomsday provision for when all other rights have failed?
Consider for a moment what George Mason, who conceived the Bill of Rights, had to say on the matter:
… A well-regulated Militia, composed of the Gentlemen, Freeholders, and other Freemen was necessary to protect our ancient laws and liberty from the standing army … And we do each of us, for ourselves respectively, promise and engage to keep a good Fire-lock in proper order & to furnish Ourselves as soon as possible with, & always keep by us, one Pound of Gunpowder, four Pounds of Lead, one Dozen Gun Flints, and a pair of Bullet Moulds, with a Cartouch Box, or powder horn, and Bag for Balls.
That doesn’t sound like Mr. Mason was preparing to merely protect his home from criminals. Mason, like many of the founding fathers, understood that a general populace well enough armed to challenge standing armies was crucial to the protection of freedom and individual liberty. This ruling and the law in Maryland continue a dangerous precedent that may go all the way to the Supreme Court to determine if private citizens are “allowed” to own many kinds of semi-automatic rifles.