For as long as I can remember, 307 U.S. 174 United States v. Miller has been regarded as the most ignorantly-decided 2nd Amendment case in the country.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 was written for one stated reason, and one real reason. The stated reason was to stop the proliferation of “gangster weapons,” which was a farce, as the heyday of the gangs were already winding down once Prohibition was ended by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
No, the real reason for NFA ’34 was as a jobs program for the thousands of Bureau of Prohibition agents that has no reason to remain in the employment of the government once Prohibition was over. Roosevelt didn’t want to add to the unemployment roles, and so created this gun law as a make-work program. The agency, which has never been wanted by any Department to which it has been attached since, remains a pox upon Americans to this day as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and Any Other Crap Job Real Federal Cops Won’t Do (BATFEAOCJRFCWD, or more commonly, ATF).
Miller was a simple case, rightfully decided by on a lower court level by District Court Judge Heartsill Ragon, who noted simply that it was a blatantly unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment, going against both the letter and the spirit of the Second Amendment.
Unfortunately for every American since, there was not defense put up for Miller when it went before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Miller himself disappeared into Dust Bowl America after his initial case was dismissed, and his attorney saw no sense in traveling to Washington to argue for a man who had disappeared. As a result, the government was able to
blatantly lie argue a case without a defense attorney present, and convinced a firearms-ignorant court that the following was true:
In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.
Reality, of course, is quite different from what a bunch of gun- and military-ignorant Supreme Court Justices “knew.”
Double-barrel shotguns with barrels as short as 10″ inches has been used for more than 100 years in combat at the point Miller went before the Supreme Court. They had been the primary weapon of Confederate cavalry units during the Civil War. Short-barrel shotguns had also been used in the Spanish-American War and World War I. If the court had asked any pressing questions at all to the U.S. Attorney, Miller would have recognized that short-barrel shotguns and the other firearms restricted by NFA ’34 were unquestionably of military use and therefore of militia use. District Court Judge Ragon’s decision that the National Firearms Act of 1934 was unconstitutional would have been upheld.
California vs Zondorak has just been decided in the Land of Flakes and Nuts, and is equally insane, claiming that Zondorak’s ownership of an AK-pattern semi-automatic rifle is not protected by the Second Amendment.
If there was ever a firearm made more specifically designed for militia use than the AK-pattern rifle, then I’d like to know what it is. The AK was designed to be manufactured in the most rudimentary of machine shops, with extremely loose tolerances, so that to could be used by conscript armies and militias by the millions. The courts’ decision is laughable, and indefensible, and far outside of both the intent and spirit of what the Founders would have allowed.
I suspect that an appeal is already written and will be filed. If it makes it’s way to the U.S. Supreme Court and is heard, the California law must be struck down.
Unfortunately, while SCOTUS has recognized overzealous gun control in us both Heller and McDonald, they have dodged many more Second Amendment cases, and I fear they would simply decline to hear Zondorak as well.
It is far easier for a court to ignore a wrong than right one, and that sadly seems to be the trend of a Roberts court which continues to fiddle as the Constitution burns.