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Conn. 'assault weapon' court ruling admits their 'common use,' doesn't care

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As National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea reported Friday, United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello upheld Connecticut's draconian "assault weapon" ban, in what gun rights advocates involved describe as "only the first battle in a multi-year legal war." Interestingly, Covello acknowledges that the law is an assault on the rights of gun owners--and he doesn't care.

The Hartford Courant reports that much of the debate revolved around whether or not the law bans firearms and magazines that are "in common use." This is significant because in the Supreme Court's District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Washington D.C.'s outright ban on handguns was unconstitutional because such guns are "in common use" for lawful purposes.

As the Courant noted, the state denied that these guns were "in common use," and are thus without any Constitutional protection:

The Connecticut plaintiffs argued that assault weapons are commonly used, in the state and across the country, for hunting, sporting competitions and home protection. Common usage makes the weapons and large-capacity magazines subject to Second Amendment protection, the plaintiffs argued.

The state, in its defense of the law, disputed the claim of widespread usage.

Judge Covello, interestingly, admits that the state's claim that the firearms and magazines in question are not commonly used for lawful purposes was false, but he doesn't care:

Covello, agreeing with the plaintiffs, concluded that the weapons and magazines are commonly owned and legally used in Connecticut and elsewhere. But he parted company with the plaintiffs when he wrote that the state's ownership and sales ban is justified when the government's goal of reducing violence is measured against the ban's impingement on Second Amendment rights.

It does not appear that Covello is using the argument advanced by former Obama administration "regulatory czar," and eternal "killer tomato," Cass Sunstein, who tried to claim that "in common use at the time" referred to the time the Second Amendment was ratified, rather than at the time the Constitutionality of a ban is being considered--an argument that the Heller decision had already described as "bordering on the frivolous."

Instead, Covello apparently claims to have measured the acknowledged "impingement [some might say "infringement"] on [the] Second Amendment rights" of the plaintiffs, against "the government's goal of reducing violence." Covello is evidently asking us to believe that a ban on firearms used in less than two percent of "gun crimes," according to the Congressional Research Service will do what ten years of federal "assault weapons " banning singularly failed to do.

Covello also claims that since a variety of other firearms remain legal--including handguns, which, as Covello reminds us, are described in the Heller decision as "quintessential self-defense weapon" in the longstanding view of Americans--an "assault weapons" ban is a permissible infringement on that which shall not be infringed.

It is unfortunate that in writing the Heller opinion, Justice Scalia neglected to mention that semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifles with pistol grips, barrel shrouds and flash suppressors have long been considered by the American people to be the quintessential anti-tyranny weapon.

As said before, the unfortunate court ruling is just the beginning of the "long legal war" over this legislative abomination. In the meantime, Connecticut gun owners should continue to defy it. The "legal war" might, after all, escalate to the kind of war in which the quintessential "regime change rifle" is a vital piece of equipment.

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