Federal appeals court upholds Massachusetts ban on the sale of certain assault weapons

People use large capacity semi-automatic weapons to commit mass murders and fail to protect themselves at home, a federal appeals court said yesterday, upholding the way Massachusetts bans the sale of certain assault weapons.

The Court of Appeal’s decision for the first circle in Boston gets back to the point that the second amendment does not grant an absolute right to own any type of weapon. It comes just two days after a federal judge in Boston refused to overturn a man’s gun conviction despite arguing he had the right to own a gun without a state license – and the verdict upholds a federal judge’s decision last year to maintain the Massachusetts list of guns that are prohibited for sale here.

In its statement, the appeals court stated that the ban, which Attorney General Maura Healey extended in 2016, was acceptable following the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling, which for the first time explicitly stated that Americans had the right to own weapons, but also These states could impose appropriate restrictions on them:

The Court added that the second amendment “does not grant the right to keep or carry weapons in any way or for any purpose”.

It was about Healey’s determination that the law allowed her to extend the ban to guns that weren’t specifically mentioned on a state’s prohibited gun list, but which her office had determined were essentially copies of guns the list acted. When she announced this, she was immediately sued by a group of gun manufacturers and owners.

The appeals court concluded that in Heller’s decision, the Supreme Court made personal self-defense, especially at home, one of its cornerstones for determining whether a weapon is valid under the second amendment.

The appeals court found more than once that state law does not prohibit all semi-automatic assault weapons and that those who do not “do not share the characteristics that make handguns well suited for home self-defense” such as easily accessible or even having one hand can be used by a homeowner who chooses the police with another. The court contrasted such heavy weapons with light stun guns, which Massachusetts also tried to ban, but which the Supreme Court said the second amendment allowed.

The court said:

In fact, upon direct request, neither of the plaintiffs nor their six experts could identify a single example of the use of an assault weapon for self-defense at home, nor could they identify a single example of a self-defense episode in which ten or more shots were fired. Overall, the record suggests that using the banned weapons for self-defense indoors is equivalent to using a sledgehammer to break open the shell of a peanut. We therefore conclude that the law does not place a heavy burden on the core law of the second amendment to domestic self-defense.

If so, is there a compelling reason for the state to apply regulations on certain weapons? The court said there is:

We have said before and reaffirm today that “few interests are central to a state government other than protecting the safety and well-being of its citizens”. Gould, 907 F.3d, 673. Since Massachusetts undoubtedly “has overriding state interests in both public safety and crime prevention,” the only question that remains is whether the law is essentially related to those interests. The answer to this question depends on whether the correspondence between these interests and the law is reasonable.

The record contains ample evidence of the unique dangers posed by the prohibited weapons. Semi-automatic assault weapons allow a shooter to fire multiple rounds very quickly, allowing them to hit more victims in less time. LCMs [large-capacity magazines] Exacerbate this danger and allow the shooter to fire more bullets without stopping to reload. Cf. Heller II, 670 F.3d, 1264 (with reference to the fact that “the pause of 2 or 3 seconds during which a criminal reloads his weapon can be of decisive importance for law enforcement” (internal quotation marks omitted)). It is therefore not surprising that AR-15 equipped with LCMs were the weapon of choice in many of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history, including terrible events in Pittsburgh (2018), Parkland (2018), Las Vegas (2017). , Sutherland Springs (2017), Orlando (2016), Newtown (2012) and Aurora (2012).

The court concluded:

Here, the conclusion of the Massachusetts legislature that the legitimate interests of the Commonwealth are best served by the prohibition of semi-automatic offensive weapons and LCMs rests on substantial (though not incontrovertible) evidence as to the excessive dangers associated with the prohibited weapons. In addition, it weighs on credibility to argue that the correspondence between the law and the asserted government interest is unreasonable. As we said earlier, the law does not prohibit all semi-automatic firearms and magazines. Nor does it in any way circumscribe the basic right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to have handguns in their homes for self-defense. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the law can “affect”[] the right to keep and carry weapons “, Miller, 307 US at 182, does not interfere with this right because it withstands an intermediate examination. …

This case concerns an issue of paramount importance. As a result of the increasing incidence of mass violence with semi-automatic attack weapons and LCMs, the interests of state and local governments in regulating the possession and use of such weapons are very important. We recognize, however, that such interests must be weighed against the time-honored right of individuals to carry weapons in self-defense – a right that the second amendment protects to varying degrees. Keeping this delicate balance calm and true is a difficult but necessary job. Here we state that the law, even if it implies the essence of the second amending right, puts a minimal burden on this right (at most). As a result, we have an obligation to show a measure of respect for the Massachusetts legislature’s decision on how best to regulate the possession and use of the prohibited weapons.

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