Tag Archives: Assault Weapons Ban

Judge Upholds MA AR-15 Ban: “Not Within Scope of Personal Right to Bear Arms”

Boston, MA— A lawsuit challenging Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons was dismissed by a federal judge on April 5, who asserted in his ruling that military-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, banned by the state in 1998, are “not within the scope of the personal right to ‘bear Arms’ under the Second Amendment.”

“The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear arms,’” U.S. District Judge William Young wrote in the decision.

Young said in his ruling that the features of a military-style rifle are “designed and intended to be particularly suitable for combat rather than sporting applications,” and that Massachusetts was within its rights to enact a ban through elected representatives.

“In the absence of federal legislation, Massachusetts is free to ban these weapons and large capacity magazines. Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens,” Young wrote. “These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous, and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.”

The Hill reported that the lawsuit dismissed by Young was filed by the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, which claimed the ban infringed on Second Amendment rights. The group asserted in its complaint that the term “assault weapons” is non-technical and “entirely fabricated” to politicize the most popular types of guns in the United States.

“Healey unilaterally decreed that thousands of Massachusetts residents are suddenly criminals simply for having exercised their Second Amendment rights,” the complaint said, in reference to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who expanded in 2016 the definition of “copies or duplicates” of AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles that are prohibited under the state’s 1998 assault-weapon ban.

In a statement, the National Rifle Association (NRA) criticized the decision.

“Like all law-abiding Massachusetts gun owners, the NRA was extremely disappointed that the court upheld Massachusetts’s ban on many of the most popular firearms in America,” the group said.

In his decision, Young, who Bloomberg reports was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan, quoted the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court in a critical 2008 decision that overturned Washington’s ban on hand guns, but also warned of potential limitations.

“Weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like” aren’t protected by the Second Amendment and “may be banned,” Young quoted Scalia as saying, referring to the automatic rifle popular with the military. The AR-15 is similar to an M-16, Young said, equating the military fully automatic firearm with a civilian semi-automatic.

In addition, Young also rejected attempts by the gun-rights group to challenge the ban on the grounds that AR-15s are extremely popular and widely owned within the United States.

“The AR-15’s present day popularity is not constitutionally material,” Young said.

Gun Rights Advocates Sue After Ill. Town Ordinance Bans “Assault” Rifles

Deerfield, IL— Framed as a response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Deerfield Village Board passed a ban April 2 on semiautomatic “assault” rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines.

“We hope that our local decision helps spur state and national leaders to take steps to make our communities safer,” said Mayor Harriet Rosenthal. According to The Chicago Tribune, Deerfield’s definition of an “assault weapon” includes “semiautomatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with a capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition, shotguns with a revolving cylinder,” and “semiautomatic pistols and rifles that can accept large-capacity magazines. ”

In turn, gun rights advocates on April 5 sued the village— which is about 25 miles outside of Chicago— over the ban, while Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of The Second Amendment Foundation, claimed the ordinance “flies in the face of state law.” The Second Amendment Foundation sued Deerfield Village, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association and a Deerfield resident.

Rosenthal claimed that state law allowed for the updating of the village’s existing ordinance, which gave guidance on transportation and storage of “assault-style” weapons and defined specific models of firearms the rules were applicable to. Despite Rosenthal’s explanation, the lawsuit accuses the village of violating state law.

Although state law allows for amendments to previous ordinances, the lawsuit argues that the sweeping ban under the auspices of an ordinance amendment goes too far. John Boch, president of the Illinois-based gun rights advocacy group Guns Save Life, also said he would be filing a lawsuit.

[Also Read: Under 21 ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Requiring Gun Surrender Clears Illinois Senate]

“We are going to fight this ordinance, which clearly violates our member’s constitutional rights, and with the help of the NRA, I believe we can secure a victory for law-abiding gun owners in and around Deerfield,” he said.

Rather than simply updating an ordinance, critics contend the new amendment goes much further, particularly with the village’s claim that possession of specified weapons in Deerfield is not “reasonably necessary” to protect an individual’s right to self-defense.

Furthermore, firearm owners are required by law to transfer high-capacity magazines and “assault” rifles out of the village, modify them so they comply with ordinance standards, or surrender them to law enforcement.

According to a report by The Washington Times:

The Supreme Court in 2008 ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to keep a handgun in their home for self-protection, and extended those rights to the states in 2010.

But the high court has declined since then to weigh in on lower court rulings upholding other similar bans on specific semiautomatic weapons — including an ordinance from Highland Park, another Illinois town that Deerfield says it modeled its rules on.

Gun-rights groups pointed to Deerfield’s new language that specifically allows police to confiscate the banned weapons as particularly concerning…

A divided Seventh Circuit appeals court panel upheld the Highland Park ordinance in 2015, saying it didn’t want to try to fill in what the Supreme Court rulings had arguably left open as to whether constitutional protections include a right to own certain semiautomatic weapons.

In December 2015, the Supreme Court declined to reconsider the case.

The ordinance goes into effect on June 13, 2018 – with residents facing fines of up to $1,000 per day for failure to comply within 60 days – and reportedly gives police the authority to confiscate and destroy weapons and magazines, although the village says it will not have police conduct “door to door” compliance checks.

“While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans possession of legally owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense,” Mr. Gottlieb said.

“This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that ‘nobody is coming to take your guns,’” Gottlieb said.


Under 21 ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Requiring Gun Surrender Clears Illinois Senate

The Illinois State Senate passed HB 1465 on Wednesday, a bill banning the sale of certain types of semi-automatic weapons to individuals under age 21. The bill would also make owning such a weapon below that age a Class 3 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second offense.

The bill deviates from the traditional military definition of assault rifle, requiring the weapon to be capable of selective fire options like three round bursts and fully-automatic, and instead defines it as any semi-automatic rifle or pistol with a belt or magazine fed system capable of more than 10 rounds or featuring a folding stock or the ability to accept tactical attachments such as scopes. The definition also includes some .50 caliber rifles. Those individuals currently owning the weapons would be required to surrender them within 90 days.

According to WAND-TV, the bill passed by a vote of 33 to 22. It previously passed the House, but must go back to the House for reconciliation after lawmakers added an amendment that would allow individuals who owned such weapons prior to the passage of the law to use that fact as an affirmative defense when facing felony charges under the legislation.

[RELATED: Seattle Police Achieve State’s First “Red Flag Law” Gun Seizure]

The amendment was added to attract Republican votes to the bill, but Mahomet Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose told Watchdog.org that the amendment would not necessarily protect owners of the weapons from facing felony charges if they do not surrender them. He believes the bill should have exempted current owners of the weapons from facing charges, rather than just offering them an affirmative defense while under arrest.

“Never mind the fact that you’re an innocent person and you’re in shackles and have been taken to jail and booked and your mugshot is now on TV,” said Sen. Rose.

The Illinois State Senate also passed HB 1467 on Wednesday, which bans bump stocks and trigger cranks in the state, and added an amendment to that bill allowing localities to ban what it defines as assault weapons, potentially creating different gun laws on a town-by-town basis in the state.

In addition, the Illinois House of Representatives recently passed HB 1468, which would impose a 72-hour waiting period on purchases of items defined as assault weapons under the bill. The Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

The Illinois General Assembly is controlled by a Democratic majority. Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have required gun retailers to be licensed by the state, claiming that to be “unnecessary, burdensome regulation.”

Gubernatorial vetoes can be overturned by a three-fifths majority vote in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.