Hartford Courant OpEd: 2nd Amendment does not include “assault rifles”

In an opinion piece published in the Hartford Courant today by Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, Feldman outright states the 2nd Amendment does not include assault rifles. His reasoning comes down to this*, with my emphasis.

… there’s something special about weapons that can be used both for self-defense and for militias … those are the weapons that the men who ratified the Second Amendment had in mind.

Today, that includes handguns. But it doesn’t include assault rifles. They’re great for military purposes, and no doubt fun to shoot on the range. But they aren’t useful for self-defense, almost by definition.

I’m going to assume Feldman is using the now traditional gun-controler’s definition of an “assault weapon” including simple, semi-auto rifles and outright tell him he is wrong.

First, the government’s definition of an “assault weapon” has been changed and manipulated beyond belief. It started in 1994 – or before in some attempts at the state level – with the so-called Assault Weapons Ban that literally changed the definition for political purposes. They lumped in rifles with “special features” into the assault weapon category. You know… special deadly features like adjustable stocks (oh, the horror) and shoulder things that go up.

Prior to 1994 and after the 1934 National Firearms Act, the term was used in the government exclusively for certain military firearms that could be set to select fire or full auto. President Obama and many other gun control activists to this day lie, defining semi-automatics as fully automatic. They know the difference and are purposefully claiming “assault weapons” equal “machine guns” to ensure confusion. There is no other explanation other than “they are lying for political purposes, targeting people who know little about firearms.”

Oh, and there have been so few machine guns, sub-machine guns, or fully automatic firearms used in crimes, it’s almost immeasurable. But back to the topic at hand, Feldman’s claim…

But they aren’t useful for self-defense, almost by definition.

Again, wrong. In January 2013, the Department of Homeland Security put out a bid for a rifle to be used by law enforcement in the US that would be “suitable for personal defense use in close quarters…” The request for proposal is still available right here. I wrote about it in January of 2013. In short, Homeland Security stated the personal defense weapon of choice for law enforcement in close quarters was – in generic terms – an AR-15 capable of select fire (3-round burst) and full auto. Funny huh? And yet Feldman does not think the semi-auto version of the gun is useful for self-defense?

Don’t worry professor, I’m not done. Along with law enforcement all over the country pulling their semi-auto, select-fire (somewhat rare) and full-auto (very rare) rifles out of the racks or the trunk when they know they are going into a situation where they would have to defend themselves or others, in a majority of instances, it makes sense for these rifles to be used for home defense.

I’m certainly not saying this is the best choice for everyone, but here is a list of valid reasons I’ve written before, in no particular order.

  1. You can mount a light, red dot sight and/or a laser to the rifle to make it easy to use and aim during the day or night.
  2. They have a reasonable recoil, making the gun – for many users – easier to shoot as compared to a defense-caliber shotgun or pistol.
  3. They can be customized to “fit” a variety of body types and shooting styles. They can be configured and adjusted for different shooting distances (less than 5 yards to more than 200 yards).
  4. The .223/5.56 self-defense round is absolutely appropriate for use within a home, even in an urban environment. Ballistic experts have found rounds from these calibers “dump energy” quickly and break apart or begin to tumble after penetrating the first barrier. Will rifle rounds go through walls? You bet. Will pistol calibers like 9mm, .40 and .45 go through walls? You bet. Will shotgun rounds go through walls? You bet. That said, there is significant evidence the .223/5.56 self-defense rounds penetrate no more than, and often less than traditional handgun calibers and many shotgun rounds.
  5. A rifle is much more capable of stopping a threat as compared to a pistol.
  6. Semi-automatic rifles are more accurate than a pistol or shotgun.
  7. Ammunition is (normally) readily available and (normally) priced within reason.
  8. You (some of you) can buy high-capacity magazines for many semi-automatic rifles. In a self-defense situation, you want to avoid manipulating the firearm at all except for pulling the trigger straight back. Law enforcement and civilians do not favor high-capacity magazines so they can shoot more rounds, they favor them so they can manipulate their gun less. If reloading is needed, it is possible but let’s be completely honest, in many self defense situations, ten rounds may not be enough.

Maybe, just maybe Feldman is confused about what rifles we are talking about here. Maybe he’s so illiterate about the subject he really thinks full-auto rifles are what we’re talking about? I’m not going to give him the benefit of the doubt, he’s a Harvard professor for goodness sakes.

* The Courant’s article is behind a paywall this morning. I excerpted the article above, but here is the three paragraphs I paraphrased.

That leaves the view that there’s something special about weapons that can be used both for self-defense and for militias. According to Scalia, those are the weapons that the men who ratified the Second Amendment had in mind.

Today, that includes handguns. But it doesn’t include assault rifles. They’re great for military purposes, and no doubt fun to shoot on the range. But they aren’t useful for self-defense, almost by definition.

It emerges that a careful, responsible originalist wouldn’t apply Second Amendment protection to weapons that aren’t simultaneously for self-protection and for hypothetical militias.


2nd Amendment Rally at Connecticut Capitol this Saturday

As a reminder, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) is sponsoring a 2nd Amendment rally at Connecticut’s Capitol Building from noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, April 5. The weather looks like it will be nice this weekend, so why not put off your Spring yard clean-up routine for a few hours and come out to support the 2nd Amendment?

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Topic for tomorrow: 3D Printed Guns

On the big radio show tomorrow, one of Jim’s topics will be 3D printers and the ability to “print” a lower receiver for a rifle, as well as various sized magazines and even a pistol. Watch the documentary before the show!

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The history of the 2nd Amendment

Hopefully you are not on such a 2nd Amendment “overload” that you won’t read this. While we often speak of the Heller decision and the McDonald decision, lost in the shuffle is the Nordyke decision. Read more

Mayor Bloomberg’s gun control stupidity on full display

I was traveling when this ABC interview was done with New York Cities Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It’s completely full of fail for the gun control mayor. I’ve referred to his “stupidity” in the headline, but I’m more likely to think he knows exactly what he’s talking about and he’s speaking to the low-information crowd who will take what he says and run with it.

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We’ve got mail: Why not just ban “assault-type” weapons?

George thinks Jim’s being unreasonable about 2nd Amendment rights, suggesting we redraw the line to ensure “assault-type” weapons that are really dangerous – as compared to the somewhat dangerous guns – are banned.

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A challenge for Michael Lawlor, Conn. governor’s undersecretary of criminal justice

On or about Aug. 17, Michael Lawlor, the undersecretary of criminal justice for Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stated that in almost every case he could imagine, carrying a firearm openly in Connecticut would be “almost by definition a breach of peace.” He’s totally wrong.

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Alabama mother defends home and children with firearm

Another story I’ll bring to you since there is little chance the main stream media will do it. A home invader broke into the home at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning in Alabama…

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Two 2nd Amendment cases provide right-to-carry victories in Maryland and Colorado

In Woollard v. Sheridan, a Maryland judge ruled the plaintiff did not have to prove “good and substantial reason” to carry. In Students for Concealed Carry on Campus v. Regents the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled Colorado’s 2003 Concealed Carry Act entirely preempts the University of Colorado’s power to prohibit licensed carry.

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Mitt Romney has big problems with 2nd Amendment advocates

Will he be willing to listen and learn since he might be representing all of America instead of just the liberal Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Of course he supports the 2nd Amendment, what the heck else is he going to say? But it is his actions – or inactions – as governor of Massachusetts we should be looking at, not what he’s saying now.

The Massachusetts Assault Weapon Ban
After the federal assault weapon ban expired, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and the Massachusetts legislature thought it would be good to implement a state ban and make it permanent in 2004. As I’ve mentioned before, assault weapon bans that limit the features of a rifle is feel-good legislation that does nothing to reduce crime.

I’d like to ask Romney this question about the ban. Which of the two rifles shown below is illegal in states like Massachusetts that have a miss-named “assault weapon ban?” (Click on each for a larger view.) For this question, assume the rifles have a 10-round capacity magazine, not shown.


Both of the above rifles deliver one round each time you pull the trigger (semiautomatic), and both shoot 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington rounds. They both have the same barrel length. The rifle on the left includes a two-point sling, fore grip, a high-intensity flash light mounted on a quad rail, a red dot scope along with a 3x magnifier.

Believe it or not, the rifle on the right, hanging on the peg-board wall is banned in Massachusetts simply because the stock of the rifle can be adjusted into multiple positions. What kind of sense is that Mitt?

High Capacity Magazines
Along with the miss-named assault weapon ban, Romney also continued to support a high capacity magazine ban, limiting Massachusetts owners to 10-round capacity magazines unless they were owned by the resident prior to Sept. 1994.

Of course, this ban, not unlike the assault weapon ban, does absolutely nothing other than limit options for law-abiding citizens when it comes to protecting themselves and their family. Criminals do what criminals do; they ignore the law. But Romney like many other anti-gun types, is a big fan of feel-good gun legislation.

A year ago I wrote how carrying 10 rounds in a self-defense pistol may not be enough. And I brought statistics with me.

In stressful shooting situations, most studies show “hit rates” of less than 50 percent. A New York Times article from Dec. 2007 noted the hit rate for law enforcement in the city was 17.4 percent in 2005 and 28.3 percent in 2006. Los Angeles law enforcement shot placement was better than New York’s in 2006, with a 40 percent hit rate. Keep in mind these are law enforcement officers, who partake in regular training.

Civilians would be taking a more defensive posture, but the stress level is still there. In a situation where multiple attackers invade a home or attack someone on the street, it would be very reasonable to assume one defending himself or his family may run out of ammunition quickly if they were limited to a ten round magazine capacity. Certainly home invasions or attacks by multiple gun-toting criminals are rare, but mass shootings like Columbine and Tucson are even more rare.

Combine low hit rates in stressful situations with the fact one, two, three or even four rounds that hit the aggressor may not stop the threat, and you have a strong case to completely avoid a magazine capacity limit.

So what say you Mitt?

Romney had no problem with the Brady Bill’s Five-Day waiting period
When running for US Senate in 1994, Romney was ambivalent concerning the Brady Bill’s five-day waiting period, which again does nothing to thwart criminals, rather it just puts additional burdens on law-abiding citizens who want to have a chance to protect themselves. In a Boston Herald article on Aug. 1, 1994, Romney noted…

I don’t think (the waiting period) will have a massive effect on crime but I think it will have a positive effect.

Governor, show me the “positive effect” in Massachusetts. It’s impossible to prove a negative of course, but if someone wanted to shoot someone, that makes them a criminal who can get a gun if they want. I’m not going to try to research if someone who was threatened had to wait five days and got killed or injured, simply because it would be a rare outlier. That said, if you felt threatened and took steps to install exterior lights, and a security system and locked your house but wanted to take the added step of having a firearm for protection, how is making a law-abiding person wait five days good for anything?

The criminal wouldn’t have to wait.

Massachusetts’ use of consumer protection regulations to regulate the firearm industry
It all started in 2000, and Mitt Romney did nothing to combat the stupid regulations mandated by the commonwealth’s attorney general. The requirement of a loaded chamber indicator, a magazine disconnect and a 10 pound trigger pull on pistols sold by dealers in Massachusetts after March of 2000 resulted in an “approved state list” of firearms.

Again, Romney was ambivalent to these rules that were not law, rather executive branch mandates. They still exist to this day.

The loaded chamber indicator gives some the false impression that if they look and don’t see the flag, the weapon must be unloaded. This “look to check” breaks one of the most important rules in gun handling; always assume the weapon is loaded. The proper way to check to see if a weapon is unloaded is a visual and physical check with the chamber open, and the magazine removed if applicable.

The magazine disconnect ensures the gun can not be fired – and you can not defend yourself – if there is a round in the chamber and the magazine is removed from the pistol grip. Sure, a magazine disconnect might avoid a negligent discharge, but if that does happen, you’ve broken at least two out of three (or four) primary rules; assuming the gun is unloaded, and you put your finger on the trigger. There is the argument that in a close-quarters fight for control of a pistol, one could hit the magazine release to render the weapon useless as a firearm. Then again, ask a cop if he’s ever drawn his pistol and had the magazine drop out by mistake simply because it was not seated properly or the mag release was inadvertently pushed. That could be a disaster.

A 10 pound trigger? Have you tried to pull the trigger on a double action revolver or semi-automatic pistol with a 10 pound trigger? I’m telling you, there will be a significant percentage of the population who would have a difficult time with such a high weight. They may not be able to get a round off in a self-defense situation, let alone put one on-target.

These mandates simply discourage manufactures from selling pistols in Massachusetts and increases the cost to buy and maintain self-defense firearms. Thanks a lot.

Permits for Residents and Non-Residents
Not too good here either. No need to go into details, but let’s say Romney was not out to support the concealed carry movement.

Massachusetts, like Connecticut, refuses to honor any other state carry permits. You have to get a non-resident permit, and that’s never been easy to do. Ask a state resident who lives east of Worcester how difficult it is to get a Class A license to carry concealed.

I won’t blame Romney about the more recent regulations put on non-residents who want a permit for to carry in Massachusetts. Let’s just say his ambivalence over the years clearly made it worse for non-residents.

So what say you Gov. Romney? Are you willing to have a real discussion about your support of the 2nd Amendment?