Thomas Gallatin / Aug. 30, 2019

Despotic Judiciary Assaults Second Amendment

Seventh Circuit Court upholds a ban on "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazines.

Another appellate court has failed to defend Americans’ Second Amendment rights. On Thursday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Cook County, Illinois’s ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Last year, a U.S. district judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the 2006 Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban, which means a fine for Cook County residents of up to $10,000 and sentences of up to six months in prison if they are found to be in possession of so-called “large-capacity magazines” or “assault weapons.” The fact of the matter is that the law intentionally misclassifies common semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 as “assault weapons” and misleadingly labels these firearms’ standard-capacity magazines (20 to 30 rounds) as being nefariously “large capacity.”

In its unanimous ruling, the court’s three-judge panel wrote, “We have stated repeatedly, and recently, that, absent a compelling reason, we will not overturn circuit precedent.” The precedent was the Highland Park ruling, wherein a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that municipalities have the leeway to regulate firearms if it makes people “feel safer.” The majority wrote, “If a ban on semi-automatic guns and large-capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that’s a substantial benefit” [emphasis added]. So, feeling safe trumps Americans’ Second Amendment right to take action to actually be safe? As Rush Limbaugh famously observed of the Left, it’s “symbolism over substance.”

This ruling once again supports Justice Clarence Thomas’s argument that the Supreme Court needs to stop this erosion of Americans’ Second Amendment rights. As Thomas recently wrote, “The Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.” Justice Thomas may get the opportunity he’s been calling for, as the Illinois State Rifle Association, which sued Cook County over this “assault weapons” ban, plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Activist judges are ignoring not only the Constitution but Supreme Court rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago. It’s time for the Supreme Court to rectify that rogue behavior. Thomas Jefferson once warned, “The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.” He was right.

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