Normally I try to be focused on one topic in my blog posts, but it's been a busy 24 hours for commonsense judicial rulings regarding gun regulation. Namely, there have been three judiciary decisions of note.
FIRST: A win for our side. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles in D.C., and a ban on high-capacity ammo magazines. As stated in the ruling (LINK) (each paragraph below is taken from different parts of the document):
We hold the District had the authority under D.C. law to promulgate the challenged gun laws, and we uphold as constitutional the prohibitions of assault weapons and of large-capacity magazines and some of the registration requirements.The Committee on Public Safety received evidence that assault weapons are not useful for the purposes of sporting or self-defense, but rather are “military-style” weapons designed for offensive use. See generally Testimony of Brian J. Siebel, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (Oct. 1, 2008). The Committee concluded assault weapons “have no legitimate use as self-defense weapons, and would in fact increase the danger to law-abiding users and innocent bystanders if kept in the home or used in self-defense situations."The District likewise contends magazines holding more than ten rounds are disproportionately involved in the murder of law enforcement officers and in mass shootings, and have little value for self-defense or sport. It cites the Siebel testimony, which relies upon a report of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) stating that semi-automatic rifles with large-capacity magazines are not suitable for sporting purposes.
I couldn't agree more. It sets an important precedent for federal law.
SECOND: Another win for our side. A federal court in Lubbock, Texas, ruled against the NRA in their attempt to lower the legal age to purchase handguns from gun dealers from 21 to 18. From the ARTICLE:
Thursday the judge ruled that federal restrictions on gun sales to young person are in fact reasonable and constitutional. Quoting from previous case law the judge ruled, "The Constitution permits legislators to 'draw lines on the basis of age when they have a rational basis for doing so at a class-based level."
Thursday's ruling also says,
Congress identified a legitimate state interest—public safety and passed legislation that is rationally related to addressing that issue.
And what is that "legitimate state interest -- public safety" referring to? It's no doubt referring to the fact that ages 18-20 are PRIME age for gun deaths. Gun-related deaths by homicide and suicide are the number 2 and 3 causes of death in that age range, not too far behind unintentional deaths (where 0.8% were due to firearms). Firearms were used for 84.1% of homicides and 45.6% of suicides (according to CDC WISQARS data for 2008, the last year available). Of the 10,658 reported total deaths, firearms led to 2257 deaths, or about 21.2%.
Compare that to the age range between 21-30, where firearms led to 17.5% of deaths. The next age range, between 31-40, drops even further, to 9.2%.
Similar trends hold for these age ranges for violent crime, as well.
THIRD: A draw. The Supreme Court refused to hear a case regarding the constitutionality of concealed carry of firearms without a permit (ARTICLE). It turned down the appeal of a Maryland man who had been charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, caught while supposedly transferring his weapon between homes. From the article:
Maryland countered that the Supreme Court made clear in its 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, that its holding would not undercut the enforcement of reasonable restrictions on guns. Maryland’s permit requirements were reasonable restrictions, the state argued.
And here is the noted statement from the DC v. Heller opinion:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.
Based on that statement, I'm rather disappointed the court didn't hear the case. They didn't say so far why they refused the case. Could it be because the court leans toward the conservative side?