On December 16, Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced H.R. 4269 into the House of Representatives, the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2015.” The bill currently has 123 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. The bill is little more than an attempt to revitalize the old ban from 1994 that did little to combat violence in the United States. Even the New York Times admitted in 2014 that the ban was ineffective. But yet again, the ban is being resurrected and the 2nd Amendment is under full scale assault.
This “assault” weapons ban closely resembles the New York Secure Ammunition Firearms and Enforcement (SAFE) Act in its broad scope and all-encompassing restriction. In Section 2 of the bill, the definition of “assault weapon” is expanded to include any of the following features of semiautomatic rifles:
“(36) The term ‘semiautomatic assault weapon’ means any of the following, regardless of country of manufacture or caliber of ammunition accepted:
“(A) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the following:
“(i) A pistol grip.
“(ii) A forward grip.
“(iii) A folding, telescoping, or detachable stock.
“(iv) A grenade launcher or rocket launcher.
“(v) A barrel shroud.
“(vi) A threaded barrel.
Similar restrictions are placed on pistols as well.
“(i) A threaded barrel.
“(ii) A second pistol grip.
“(iii) A barrel shroud.
“(iv) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
“(v) A semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
“(E) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
Under New York’s law, any rifle with these features is also classified in this category and is banned. This effectively excludes most commonly owned sporting rifles from ownership with the Empire State. Almost all variants of the AR-15, AK-47, and most of their contemporaries, were made into boogeymen. H.R. 4269 seeks to effectively make the SAFE Act become a national policy.
Even though the words “shall not be infringed” are clearly stated within the text of the 2nd Amendment, this does not seem to be enough to stop gun grabbing (that is OUR guns, not theirs) politicians from continually assaulting our fundamental Constitutional rights. Despite the Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008) and McDonald vs. Chicago (2010) that affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms, the assault never ends. Comprehensive bills keep being introduced in Congress and in state legislatures in attempts to effectively repeal the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
Not only are certain features on semiautomatic rifles made into the spawn of Satan, but many commonly owned rifles are specifically named in the bill that would be banned.
(H) All of the following rifles, copies, duplicates, variants, or altered facsimiles with the capability of any such weapon thereof:
“(ii) All AR types, including the following:
“(III) Armalite M15 22LR Carbine.
“(IV) Armalite M15–T.
“(V) Barrett REC7.
“(VI) Beretta AR–70.
“(VII) Bushmaster ACR.
“(VIII) Bushmaster Carbon 15.
“(IX) Bushmaster MOE series.
“(X) Bushmaster XM15.
The restrictions placed upon the right to bear arms are like no others placed on other rights. Imagine if Congress attempted to pass a law stating that certain phrases could not be used, or that in order to have petitions permits were to be required, or that only books printed before the law were legal? Such a law would be absolutely ridiculous and no rational person would advocate such a law. However, the principle does not carry over into the 2nd Amendment from the 1st. All of a sudden, bans based merely on looks and design are perfectly legal under any level of scrutiny, and (of course) exemptions are carved out for law enforcement.
Perhaps the most diabolical section of the bill is Section 8.
SEC. 8. SEVERABILITY.
If any provision of this Act, an amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.
Now how about that: a bill that anticipates its own lawsuits and gives itself plenty of wiggle room for those suits. Tell you what. How about we just rule that Section 8 is unconstitutional and then go from there, alright? Great!
The true sinister nature of the bill is enshrined in this last section. The bill is not meant to provide for public safety while respecting the Constitution. Quite the opposite is the case. The law is far too over-reaching and broad in order to pass a proper level of scrutiny under a 2nd Amendment claim. The right to bear arms is a fundamental right under the Constitution, not merely just a positive right that the Supreme Court has invented. It is a right that makes the United States unique, in that it acts as a separation of power between the citizens and the government. That separation must be respected, and only the highest level of scrutiny is appropriate when claims are brought against the government on the grounds of the 2nd Amendment.
This law would pass under no level of review at the Supreme Court because it fails any level of scrutiny. It fails strict scrutiny, where the government would have to advance a compelling interest by the least restrictive means (don’t even think about telling me that the bill is the least restrictive means). It would fail under intermediate scrutiny, because it does not advance a substantial government interest, because the guns being targeted are not part of an epidemic of violence and murder in the streets. The law would also fail rational basis review as well; even though it may be related to a legitimate government interest, the fact that the law restricts a fundamental automatically prevents the law from even being considered under such a low level of review.
This proposed law is dangerous, and it is very concerning that 123 representatives have cosponsored it. The bill is likely not to pass, but avid Constitutional defenders must always remain on guard. The federal government increasingly treats its limiting document with contempt, and the 2nd Amendment displays the zenith of that contempt. H.R. 4269 must be defeated, and the tyrannies of the past must not be resurrected.