Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

05 February 2016

The Aggressive Maryland Ban on "Assault" Firearms Must Defend Itself Again

The Maryland law banning 45 types of firearms as assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was ruled constitutional in a lower court ruling, despite the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has now ruled in a 2-1 decision written by Chief Judge William B. Traxler Jr. that the lower court ruling must be based on a more stringent legal standard.  The Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, Democrat, helped to pass the law when he was a state senator.  He remains an ardent supporter of the arms ban.  He claims it is just common sense that the 2nd Amendment does not give people a right to own military-style assault weapons.

Assault weapons by name imply an intention to use the weapon in an offensive, rather than a defensive, manner.  Yet, in any fight for one's life, the fight will tend to oscillate back and forth between defense and offense.  Yes, one may be defending one's home and family, but to do so one cannot simply block blow after blow and expect that one will be forever successful in blocking the next blow.  At some point, one has to find an instant to move to the offensive and deliver a knock-out blow to end the contest.  The sooner this is accomplished, the less the threat to one's loved ones and values.  The Democrats never seem to understand this.

There is no clear distinction between an assault and a defensive weapon.  There is also no clear distinction between a military weapon and a defensive weapon.  The dissenting judge on the Appeals Court decision, Robert B. King, claimed the Maryland law banning assault weapons banned "exceptionally lethal weapons of war."  Now I ask you, what other kind of weapon would you want to have while defending your family and home?  A pocket knife with a 3-inch blade is not sufficient to the task of protecting one's values.  Morally, how can it be wrong to defend your family and home with the best tools available for doing so?

When the 2nd Amendment was approved by the states of the new Republic and became effective on 15 December 1791, many Americans lived on the frontier and were under frequent threat of attack by Indians or even the British who still occupied Canada and various forts in the Midwest (then the Northwest), despite the Ohio Territory having been ceded to the Americans by the 1783 Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolutionary War.  The Northwest Indian War, also called Little Turtle's War, lasted from 1785 - 1795, with the British supplying weapons to the Indians.  Not so long after, the British and their Indian allies launched a brutal attack upon the Americans in the War of 1812.  Throughout this period, it was clearly a common sense necessity that many an American must arm himself with the best weapons of war he could afford.  Those weapons were not necessarily any different than those used by the meager official armed forces of the federal government.  The common American could own the best musket and the best rifle available.  A few even owned cannons.  Some shipowners owned rather heavily armed sailing ships.  The right to do so was then protected by the 2nd Amendment.

The Maryland law banning so-called assault weapons was opposed in court by a group of gun store owners and individuals who claim the prohibited firearms are not military weapons.  I consider this a concession that should not be made.  The military and individuals use weapons, and may do so on a moral basis, to protect persons and property.  There is no rational reason to deny individuals a weapon simply because it might be used by the military.  The only reason to deny an individual the use of a weapon is if the individual has used a weapon to initiate harm to others, has threatened others with initiated force, or has shown a well-established inability to act rationally.

Yes, there are weapons that one may not be likely to need to defend one's home and family.  Bazookas and tanks are not likely to be useful, unless one lives very near the Mexican border and has to protect one's ranch from drug and human traffickers.  Some individuals may simply think it is cool to restore a WWII tank.  That seems a very reasonable hobby to me.  There is surely nothing in the 2nd Amendment, the conditions of the period when it was added to the Constitution by the people, or in basic rational morality that argues against individuals arming themselves with the best weapons they may choose to own.

There are some weapons which may be prohibited to individuals.  For instance, weaponized anthrax or corrosive nerve gases are simply be too dangerous for even well-intended people to handle and preserve without endangering others.  They are dangerous enough that anyone who did want to own them would fall into the category of being unable to behave rationally and in so doing, posing a threat to others. It is very difficult for even a large organization, such as the military, to handle such weapons safely.  In fact, the U.S. military does not even use them when they have them because they are too dangerous to use.



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