by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In April, in Worman v. Healey, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, upheld Massachusetts’ ban on “assault weapons” and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Worman has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which will soon decide if it will take the case.
If the Supremes take the case, it will be interesting to see how they deal with it, not only for the obvious reason, but also because the district and appeals courts disregarded the high court’s rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which struck down D.C.’s laws banning handguns and having any firearm in operable condition within the home, and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), which ruled that handgun bans are unconstitutional nationwide.
On the one hand, Heller found that the Second Amendment protects a “fundamental” right that, as the court observed in U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), existed before the Constitution was adopted. Heller described it as “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” including “all instruments that constitute bearable arms.” …
… However, Heller erred in ways that could threaten the right to arms via Worman and beyond. As if the opinion were written by multiple people who gave no deference to what his or her co-authors had written—and it may have been—Heller contradicted its “all instruments” declaration, imposing two unsupportable limitations on the types of arms the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear.