I’ve spent the last two days attempting to understand the logic of 2nd U.S. Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes in his decision (PDF) to uphold so-called “assault weapon” bans rammed through the legislatures of New York and Connecticut in a headlong rush to disarm the citizens of those states.
The problem I was having is that I was looking for logic in his decision, when his decision was clearly based on ideology, not constitutionality.
Jimmy Carter appointee Cabranes clearly understands that the U.S. Supreme court held in Heller that firearms “in common use” by citizens “for lawful purposes like self‐defense” are clearly protected by the Second Amendment.
He then completely ignores that reality to come to his decision, and lies (makes a claim that is not remotely factually true) regarding their criminal use to support his decision.
Ideally, he would be impeached over this travesty of justice.
What does “in common use” mean?
“In common use” is something like pornography; we may have a hard time defining it, but we know it when we see it. That is what makes Cabranes’ admission that Heller’s ” in common use” definition must apply, and then summarily ignoring it, so absurd.
If you look at any of the many gun stores who have posted their sales online, news stories from the mainstream media, or look at industry data, you’d quickly come to understand that the very firearms banned by the Connecticut and New York laws in questions are not just “in common use,” but are best sellers, year in and year out.
USA Today, hardly a pro-gun news outlet, noted in late 2014 just how ubiquitous these firearms are in American culture.
Gauging the number of these types of weapons in the United States is difficult, in part because the federal government does not track them specifically, and partly because so many different models are available.
The AR-15, based on the military’s M-16 and M-4 models but without the full automatic capacity, undoubtedly is one of the most popular.
In 2012, Slate.com crunched numbers from a variety of manufacturers, as well as federal statistics on background checks, and extrapolated that nearly 3.3 million AR-15s were in the country. But that was before Newtown and calls for bans, which drove sales through the roof.
In congressional testimony last year, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated assault-style weapons domestically in the range of 5 million to 8.2 million.
Denny, a former FBI agent and a Navy veteran, estimates the number in the United States now “somewhere around 8 or 9 million. The rate of them being produced is just enormous,” he said. And that’s just one type of semi-automatic, high-capacity rifle.
Slate noted that more than 800,000 Ruger Mini-14 rifles, based on an M-14 design from the 1950s and ’60s, had been produced since 1974.
Even reliably left-leaning Christian Science Monitor admits that the common AR-15—often known as “America’s rifle” or “America’s gun” because of how common it is—is not a true assault weapon, and that it has many lawful uses.
The AR-15 is a semiautomatic civilian version of an M-16 military machine gun. It is not a true assault weapon, since it can’t fire continuously. It’s extremely accurate at 200 yards and easy to modify, and thus has many uses, ranging from coyote hunting to hobby shooting at ranges. Its short barrel and modified stock makes it easy to maneuver in tight places, making it a popular home defense weapon as well. A variety of gun companies make their own versions of the basic frame, and quality and price fluctuate from company to company.
Liberal NPR admits the fact that these firearms are a major component of the U.S. firearms market, composing almost 20% of sales, two years ago.
Military-style rifles have now ballooned into a nearly billion-dollar business. The main gun industry group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, tells NPR these weapons represent almost 20 percent of the entire industry’s revenue. Data that the NSSF provided to NPR show imports and production of these weapons almost quadrupled in the past 10 years. After semi-automatic pistols, military-style rifles represent the next hottest-selling category of guns.
“AR-style modern sporting rifles are a major contributor to the success of the American firearms industry, no question,” says Mike Bazinet of the NSSF.
Their sales have only skyrocketed since that time (we’ve reached out the Mr. Bazinet at the NSSF for an estimate of how much of the current market is “assault weapon” sales in 2015).
Would Judge Cabranes like to explain how the best-selling rifles in the United States year-over-year, numbering in the millions and owned for various kinds of target shooting, hunting, and self-defense purposes, are not “in common use,” “for lawful purposes?”
Using logic, he can’t, and his excuses to ignore the fact that these common firearms are indeed ubiquitous are intentionally obtuse.
Lying About the Use of “Assault Weapons” In Crime
I’d also like to boldly and directly ask Judge Cabranes why he blatantly lied in his decision when he claimed, “these weapons are disproportionately used in crime.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own data shows that to be wretchedly false, sir.
This lie only becomes more pronounced over time.
You’ll note that rifles of all kinds (of which AR-15s, AKMs, and similar “assualt weapons” are just a subset) accounted for less than 500 deaths nationwide in 2007, less than 400 per year from 2008-2011, and less than 300 a year for each of the past two years.
Yes, you read that correctly.
As sales of these “in common use” firearms increased dramatically in recent years and they became even more common, their use in criminal homicides plummeted forty-one percent (-40.993788819875775-percent, if you want to be exact).
Rifles (of which”assault weapons” are just a subset) being used in just 2.32-percent of criminal homicides in 2013.
Judge Cabranes blatantly lied when he claimed, “these weapons are disproportionately used in crime” when they are in fact hardly used at all.
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2nd U.S. Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes’ decision in these cases was clearly and entirely driven by his political views, and not the objective facts of the case.
AR-15s and similar “assault weapons,” which Cabranes clearly admits are very similar to the real M4 and M16 assault rifles used by our troops, are clearly those best suited for militia use. Therefore, as a logical matter, any laws intent on removing or restricting them, or reducing their standard magazine capacity, must be viewed through the lens of strict scrutiny.
Both New York And Connecticut assault weapons bans affecting these “in common use” firearms are unconstitutional, and not by small degrees, but blatantly and obviously by anyone with the slightest objectivity.
This was a travesty of justice, dealt by a man clearly unfit for his position, and unable to perform his duties.
He should be impeached from office or resign, and the U.S. Supreme Court should waste no time in overturning is decision and the decisions of the lower courts.