Federal Court ruling: Mundanes have no right to possess ‘Weapons of War’
For the first time, a federal court has explicitly ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect the right of civilians to own firearms classified as “weapons of war.” In upholding Maryland’s ban on private sales and ownership of so-called assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decreed that they fell within the category of “weapons that are most useful in military service,” a phrase contained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller v. District of Columbia decision.
“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” insisted the Fourth Circuit Court.
Many gun rights advocates celebrated the 2008 Heller ruling without giving careful examination to the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s clear redefinition of the right to gun ownership as a limited, state-regulated privilege. A few who actually read the ruling warned at the time that it actually nullified the purpose of the Second Amendment, which was to protect the right of armed self-defense against the government.
Scalia wrote that “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. … Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Scalia continued. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
A right that is subject to government-imposed limitations is not a right in any sense. The innate right of armed self-defense exists whether any government chooses to recognize it. What made the Second Amendment unique was its recognition of the fact that in the constitutional scheme, the government does not have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Scalia, like many statist jurists before him, insisted that the permissible civilian uses of firearms are all defined within that government-exercised monopoly on force; they are thus temporary concessions that can be redefined by our rulers at whim. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling thus offered no surprises to anyone who had understood the clear implications of Scalia’s ruling.
— Will Grigg
Will Grigg is the Managing Editor of The Libertarian Institute, and an award-winning investigative journalist and author. He is the author of five books, most recently Liberty in Eclipse: The War on Terror and the Rise of the Homeland Security State.