Wyoming man's lawsuit a major move for gun rights

Wyoming man's lawsuit a major move for gun rights
Andrew F. Scott | Gavel: Ohio Supreme Court

Where do our gun rights end?

The Second Amendment says the “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” According to that, pretty much anything that could be classified as “arms” should be free and clear. In my mind, that means I should be able to walk around with a longsword on my left hip, a Glock on my right, and a Ma Deuce on the top of my car.

Ah, to dream.

Anyway, that’s not currently permissible, regardless of what you and I think. However, a man in Wyoming has filed a lawsuit that, if successful, could change that.

A Wapiti man who wants to make a machine gun is suing the U.S. government for denying his application to do so, saying a federal anti-machine gun law violates his Second Amendment right.

Jake Stanley DeWilde filed a federal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming last week, asking for the court to issue a declaration against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Argument

DeWilde’s complaint says that on Dec. 8, 2022, he submitted an ATF form asking to make and register an M16 machine gun. But 12 days later, the ATF denied his application, citing federal law that forbids both the transfer and possession of machine guns.

Now, the article notes that pre-1986 machine guns are permissible.

The lawsuit hinges on both the Heller and Bruen decisions, which is kind of interesting. After all, Heller actually justifies the restrictions on some guns referred to as “dangerous and unusual,” which typically has been taken to mean the machine gun ban.

However, Heller also set the “in common use” standard.

DeWilde argues that M-16s are in common use…by the military. As such, he should be free to build such a weapon regardless of whatever the ATF has said.

There are two aspects to this I have to remark upon. One is whether I think this will work and the other is whether I want it to work.

Because they’re not quite the same.

I would love to see this fly through without an issue. I’d love to see the Supreme Court look at this and say, “Yep. He’s right. You have to let him build his own M-16 now.”

However, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Realistically, the courts aren’t likely to take the military’s usage as being the same as “common use” as described in Heller. As such, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that this particular lawsuit will go very far. That’s a shame, too, because I’d love to see some of the restrictions against full-auto fall.

Moreover, they need to fall.

I just don’t realistically believe they will.

Then again, I’m not an attorney. So that means we’ll all be watching and waiting and hoping desperately that I called this one wrong. If I did, and I really do hope that I did, then I’ll be doing whatever it takes for me to build my own M-16 in the aftermath.