BEARING ARMS — Yes, I know that there’s no such thing as assault weapons, but let’s just entertain this awful piece of liberal jargon for the sake of argument. Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw noted that it might be time for the high court to definitively rule on whether it was a constitutional right for Americans to own AR-15 rifles.
Second Amendment enthusiasts were again hit with disappointment last December when the Court decided to take a pass on whether to hear oral arguments on an assault weapons ban implemented in the Chicago-area city of Highland Park. Now, on the east coast, deep-blue Maryland’s 2013 assault weapons ban is back in the legal crosshairs, with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a stricter legal standard should have been applied to ascertain its constitutionality. It’s a tremendous decision, though the current ban remains in effect while the legal camps begin arming themselves for the fight ahead.
For starters, as we rehash the legal fight over Maryland’s ban, we’ll have to take another look at the caveats placed by the Supreme Court during the landmark DC v. Heller case, which guaranteed an individual right to own firearms in the defense of one’s life or property that are not associated with a well-regulated militia. This was applied to federal enclaves; it was expanded to the states in the McDonald v. Chicago decision.
Yet, the Court noted that this right was not unlimited, and that certain limitations on weapons considered “dangerous and unusual” could pass constitutional muster. Grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, and atomic weapons fit this category, not AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. Yet, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Slate, it’s dubious whether the Supremes will get involved in Kolbe v. Hogan. It’s certainly a possibility, and it offers another legal avenue for Second Amendment supporters to make their case for a broader ruling over the entire country concerning the legality of assault weapons bans. On a side note, Ms. Lithwick, like most left-of-center publications, need to brush up on their firearms nomenclature (of which I sometimes screw up) right: