Monday, October 26, 2015

224.2 - Good News: gun control laws in NY and CT upheld by federal appeals court

Good News: gun control laws in NY and CT upheld by federal appeals court

Some other good news, and on an unexpected front. Guns.

On October 19, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that key sections of gun control laws passed by the states of New York and Connecticut in the wake of the Newtown massacre do not violate the Constitution.

The laws in question broadened the definition of what makes for a prohibited weapon to include any semiautomatic firearm containing at least one of several "military-style features," including grenade launchers and flash suppressors. The definition would include the AR-15, the popular model that Adam Lanza used to mow down schoolchildren in Newtown. They also banned large-capacity magazines of the sort that, the court noted, enabled Lanza to fire "154 rounds in less than five minutes."

The gun-fondlers' arguments against the laws of course claimed God in the form of the Holy Second Amendment was on their side as well as claiming the laws were "unconstitutionally vague," meaning it was unclear just what sorts of guns they would criminalize. Which is actually kind of funny, considering the Connecticut law specifically banned 183 types of assault weapons by make and model. Hard to be less vague than that.

example of an AR-15
What's important is that the court would not fall for the Second Amendment argument. While acknowledging that the restrictions are a "real" burden on Second Amendment rights, that is, they do put some limitations on them, the court also found that burden insufficient for a Constitutional claim because the laws don't "effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves."

The ruling did strike down one part of the New York law that outlawed "feeding devices" holding more than seven rounds and Connecticut ban on one particular non-semiautomatic pump-action shotgun. The narrow reach of those actions just point up the broad reach of the overall decision.

The gun-fondlers are of course already planning to appeal to the Supreme Court but there is at least hope that things there will not go as well as they expect. They will doubtless be relying on the Supreme Court's controversial - and I think wholly wrong - decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, which for the first time in US history and despite precedent, which the wingers claim to love so much, found an individual, rather than a collective, right to own a gun for self-defense. But those decisions, in fact, were neither as good as the gun-nuts think nor as bad as the gun control advocates think because they specifically do allow for "reasonable" restrictions on guns.

But that argument is in the future. In the here and now, we can celebrate a victory for common sense. Which is always good news.

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