Saturday, July 19, 2008

And it continues...

When the Supreme Court of the United States makes a ruling, it sticks. When they say jump, you say 'how high?'

I can believe how incredibly happy DC has been to take the bait laid out for them.

Heller walked in to register his Colt 1911A1 semi-automatic handgun (which requires you to pull the trigger once for every round fired...just like, say, a revolver) capable of holding 7 rounds in a magazine, plus one in the chamber for a total of 8. It is a handgun, and that specific model, the 1911, is the MOST common model of handgun in the USA.

It was the very common nature of the handgun's use in being kept for self defense that was a key part of the court's ruling. But it didn't need to be, simply because this is their finding

“We hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.”

It is a handgun. In the most narrow view, they could possibly deny someone other than Heller. It would be struck down, but they'd at least have a leg to stand on. SCOTUS specifically ordered that Heller be allowed to register a handgun. Not a rifle, not a shotgun, but a handgun. Maybe they could possibly deny him if he was trying to register TWO handguns, but again, that isn't the case here.

DC says they will only allow revolvers to be registered. DC goes further. DC says because it has a bottom loading clip, it is a machine gun. Are they actually co-operating with the NRA? SCOTUS revokes laws, it does not write them. Hand DC 'stuck to their guns' and said 'revolvers only, that is a semi-auto' they'd have only a little bit to loose, but by redefining a semi-auto handgun as a machine gun (a class allowed to be highly restricted) they run the real risk opening up the entire machine gun can of worms. Do they really want SCOTUS to say 'Fine, you play word games and declare a semi-auto handgun as a machine gun, we'll simply rule he can register a machine gun'

The first page of the Washington Post article makes it sound like that all he needed to do was show up with his gun, but later they reveal
"Newsham said if anyone shows up to register a semi-automatic pistol that fits the city's definition of a machine gun, police will confiscate the illegal gun but will not immediately arrest the owner. He said police reserve the right to investigate and eventually charge such an owner with violating the machine-gun ban."
The amnesty period and the official 'okay' to proceed directly to the police station with your revolver is only going to be for revolvers that end up getting registered. While they don't come out and say it is any reason they can come up with for denying registration, that amnesty is now defunct. "What's that? Your vision test came back as 20/19 not 20/20? Handcuff time!"

Again, SCOTUS said 'Let Heller register his handgun' NOT 'let Heller carry guns about the city as he pleases.' This seems to me to be a ploy to throw a guy in jail for 48 hours minimum, maybe longer. (6 years as this next case winds it's way through the courts?) Room him with a real abusive inmate, as a way to retaliate against a 'troublemaker'. But then SCOTUS never said Heller had to bring his gun in for inspection, DC simply has to register it.

Besides, Heller is strategically choosing his colt 1911, a gun that holds 1 more round than standard revolvers, a gun that holds exactly 1 round less than the revolver he tried to register in 2002. No way he was going to walk in with it on his person and allow the headlines to read "Heller arrested for possession of illegal machine gun!"

I think this is called 'setting up the check-mate'.

Washington Post Article


avk said...

In my hunter-safety class, the instructor (a gunsmith) taught us that a "machine gun" was a gun that automatically put a new bullet in the chamber, whether it be semi- or fully automatic. I don't recall if that definition was extracted from some Wisconsin statute or if it was a gunsmithing definition (if I had to guess, I'd guess the latter). The definition you imply- full-auto only- is certainly the Guns and Ammo definition, but Guns and Ammo don't write the law (or very precise English either, the last time I perused a copy).

Another example of this sort of ambiguity between what people might reasonably assume and the definition that is law is "crosswalk." People assume a crosswalk is a place where lines are painted on the street, but if you refer to that booklet they give you when you're studying for your written test, you'll find that a crosswalk is anywhere a sidewalk is interrupted by a street and continued on the other side, painted lines or no.

andrew said...

I think your instructor was a bit hazy on the facts, or possible your memory has faded with age. It is possible there is some funky Wisconsin legislation, I'll check. (just contacted the Wisconsin Hunter Education Instructor Association)

I know my instructor told us lies about sawed-off shotguns.

Of course, that is the desired result, group A gets the media to use 'scary words' (and the media doesn't mind, the wilder the headlines the better, we are in the info-tainment age after all)and with enough repetition, even those who should know better mistakenly start using the terms wrong, which then leads to erroneous, knee-jerk reactions.

As far as the gunsmithing definition, they are both automatics, but that is it. Maybe he was saying they are mechanically similar, or that all guns are machines. Who knows. I suspect he was just plain wrong.

You are right, Guns and Ammo doesn't write the law. But then neither does a single Wisconsin Gunsmith. The legal definition of machine gun is fully and carefully defined as any gun that can (or can easily be made to)fire more than one round with the single articulation of the trigger, or a specific device that can be added to a gun to cause it to meet this definition.

There is still some ambiguity, heck according to one push the ATF was doing for a while, you probably have two machine guns on you right now in the form of your shoe-laces, but they eventually backed away from that.

Even still, the supreme court did not say 'revolvers only' or 'not machine guns'. DC's plan was clear, redefine many common weapons as a media buzzword even when they don't meet the real legal definition, seize the gun prior to being allowed to register it, and then claim Heller didn't attempt to register any gun, hence he wasn't denied.

andrew said...

Okay, got information back. No such special definition law in Wisconsin that any of them know of, they use the standard federal definition of machineguns.

But really, DC can name it a grenade launcher in an attempt to demonize certain types. It is all irrelevant. It doesn't matter if Heller's handgun is too big, too small, too plastic, too inexpensive, or any other factor.

SCOTUS says 'DC must allow Heller to register his handgun' As long as whatever he shows up with fits the federal definition of handgun, they are legally bound to register it.

It also doesn't matter if he can't pass the vision test, written test, juggling test, or any other test DC decides to link to registration. SCOTUS says 'DC must allow Heller to register his handgun'

It isn't a 2nd amendment issue any more, it is a due process, 5th amendment issue. Once SCOTUS says you must do something, you cannot say 'okay' and then put in a bunch of hurdles to cross, failure allowing you to ignore the order.

It is no different than the Tokpeka Board of Ed (from Brown vs) saying 'okay, we'll let in black kids, but they have to be light skinned, with straight hair and pass this reading test'

w1ndst0rm said...

"Source Dorks is a pop culture blog ..."

Gus said...

I'm glad Source Dorks includes these kinds of discussions.

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