This image available under a Creative Commons license shows an AR-15 with magazines. (docmonstereyes / Flickr)

Opinion: Interpretation of Heller opinion missed the mark

  • By David Bugg
  • Tuesday, May 2, 2023 5:34pm
  • Opinion

In his April 17 column in defense of banning modern sporting rifles like the Armalite 15, Rich Moniak states: ” As I’ve written numerous times, in the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, U.S. Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” And he defended “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’

That is not entirely what Justice Scalia wrote, however. Scalia did not consider the private ownership of commonly held and popular firearms to be in the category of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Included in Scalia’s majority opinion, which was left out of the quote Moniak used, Scalia wrote, “Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.”

And that opinion of “weapons in common use at the time” is the keystone to what the majority opinion held as the test for an outright ban of an entire class of firearms.

The AR-15 is the most common and popular sporting rifle owned in America. Its semi-automatic mechanism functions no differently than any other semi-automatic firearm dating back in time to the late 1800s. And that test of both commonly held and historical mechanism function is the reason why the bans in California, Oregon and Washington State are highly likely to be overturned. It is why temporary restraining orders against such bans have been enacted in other states as well.

The AR-15, according to both ATF and FBI UCR statistics is used in less than 2% of all murders committed by criminals. Handguns and shotguns are used for the majority of such cases. Handguns being used in the majority of school shooting over the last 15 years.

• David Bugg is currently residing in Juneau. In the past, Bugg volunteered with the Second Amendment Foundation, as well as being life member. Bugg helped provide research and background historical analysis to their legal teams as they prepared for oral arguments at SCOTUS for District of Columbia v. Heller. He is not a member of the NRA. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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