Delaware gun group expands assault weapon ban challenge

Delaware gun group expands assault weapon ban challenge
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Delaware is one of many states that decided to ban so-called assault weapons, as well as higher capacity magazines. Those two things often go hand-in-hand, after all, primarily because modern sporting rifles come with 30-round magazines.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a challenge to Delaware’s law. That’s as it should be.

Now, the group that filed the challenge is amending it.

The Delaware Sportsman’s Association expands its US District Court challenge to new state bans on the sale of assault weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines.

The Delaware Sportsman’s Association filed its complaint shortly after Gov. John Carney signed the measures into law in June, arguing they violate the US Constitution’s Second Amendment and the Delaware constitution’s guarantee of a right to own and carry firearms.

The amended complaint lists a dozen new constitutional arguments, including violations of the so-called “takings clause” of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the US constitution, which requires the government to fairly compensate citizens for property taken for public use.

Association President Jeff Hague argues the state’s buyback program for high-capacity magazines doesn’t adequately compensate those required to turn in magazines. It offers up to $15 for the most common magazines with a total budget of only $45,000.

“We feel that even though they have this so-called buyback program – and in my view, the government can’t buy back something it never owned – in this case, there’s a limited amount of funding and there’s no way that everyone who complies will be able to be compensated,” he said.

Yeah, $15 per magazine is only 3,000 of them. I’m willing to bet there are more than 3,000 AR-15s alone in the state of Delaware. If each had just one magazine, that would deplete the fund in no time flat.

But AR owners don’t have just one magazine, by and large. That means Hague is making a very valid point.

As a result, if people who comply aren’t compensated, then we have a takings clause issue. That should be obvious to anyone and everyone watching.

The truth is, though, that I’m not sure they needed the amended complaint–not the inclusions of the takings clause concerns, anyway–because Bruen has likely skewered the state’s hopes of successfully defending the law.

After all, where in the text and history of the Second Amendment are we likely to find support for banning a category of weapon? I mean, back when the amendment was ratified, you could own artillery if you could afford it. I don’t see how an assault weapon ban survives post-Bruen.

Until then, though, we have to fight. We have to issue challenges and, while I don’t think they need it, we need to throw every valid argument we can find at them so as to stack the deck in our favor.

That’s what’s happening in Delaware and I’m glad to see it. It’s what we’re likely to see in a lot of other places too, at least until the Supreme Court finally strikes down these assault weapon bans as unconstitutional once and for all.