Did the federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit challenging Massachusetts’ ban on so-called “assault weapons” misread the words of the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in handing down his ruling last week?
Conservative Firing Line is asking readers to “be the judge.”
Here is what U.S. District Judge William Young said in his 47-page decision to dismiss the challenge by the Gun Owners’ Action League. It appears on Page 4 of his ruling:
“More specifically, Justice Scalia explained that ‘weapons that are most useful in military service – M-16 rifles and the like – are not protected under the Second Amendment and ‘may be banned.’”
But CFL went back and studied what Scalia wrote. Here is the passage from Pages 55-56 of the original Heller ruling that he authored in 2008:
“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”
This comes at a time when there has been much debate about so-called “fake news,” an example of which might be an NBC News report from last fall. In early October, NBC reported:
“Since 1968, more than 1.5 million Americans have died in gun-related incidents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, approximately 1.2 million service members have been killed in every war in U.S. history, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs and iCasualties.org, a website that maintains an ongoing database of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
But CFL broke out the pocket calculator and divided the 1.5 million figure by 50 (years), which the story gave as its time span. It comes to 30,000 firearms deaths annually, which – as anyone familiar with FBI Uniform Crime Reports can attest – would have to include suicides, and perhaps even accidents and justifiable shootings by law enforcement and private citizens.
Even in the bloodiest years for homicide, the number never went above 25,000, according to data from disastercenter.com that covers crime from 1960 to 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. Combining homicide and suicide statistics inflates the final figure, and when used to refer to “victims of gun violence,” it appears a crime wave is occurring.
Many gun rights activists are savvy to this deception by gun prohibition lobbying groups, and others should be. A little research can go a long way.