In a decision that is bound to be challenged, a judge has ruled that the popular AR-15 rifle is not protected by the Second Amendment and can be banned if states choose.
The ruling came in a case brought by several groups and individuals, including the Gun Owners Action League, who objected to a gun-ban in Massachusetts that cracks down on a number of “assault weapons.”
Judge William Young said the weapons at issue are “not within the scope of the personal right to ‘bear arms’ under the Second Amendment.”
Young said the state can ban the guns because the ban was passed by the legislature. He pointed out that other states are free to regulate firearms as they see fit.
“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.”
A separate lawsuit was filed by four gun retailers and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, but it’s being heard by another judge.
No matter the result in that case, Young’s decision likely will be appealed.
The judge interpreted the Second Amendment as doing nothing more than allowing states to maintain “well regulated” militias.
However, the amendment states in full, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
At the time the Constitution was written, personal ownership of weapons was common, and the Founders wrote of the need for the citizenry to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in two cases that the amendment recognizes the right of individuals to bear arms.
Judge Young said the plaintiffs “allege that the act infringes on their Second Amendment rights.”
“They claim that this court ought grant summary judgment in their favor because the assault weapons and LCMs banned by the act are within the scope of the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Young said.
But Young said he would not agree.
He wrote in his opinion: “The undisputed facts in this record convincingly demonstrate that the AR-15 and LCMs banned by the act are ‘weapons that are most useful in military service,’ As matter of law, these weapons and LCMs thus fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment and may be banned.”
He said it didn’t matter that the AR-15 is a civilian weapon, unlike its military counterpart, the M16.
And he claimed the late Justice Antonin Scalia “would be proud” of the decision.