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ATF Head on Heller

Temporary Director Sullivan:

ATF is pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms, including for private purposes unrelated to militia operations.

And there’s this: In addition, the court appropriately recognized that the ‘carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons,’ such as machineguns, is not protected by the amendment.

I don’t think the court specified that machineguns were what they meant when they referred to dangerous and unusual weapons. All weapons are dangerous. And machineguns are only unusual due to 74 years of federal gun regulations.

14 Responses to “ATF Head on Heller”

  1. 1894C Says:

    You know it occurs to me that any new technology could be banned if this dangerous or unusual meme sticks.

    Unusual means different or out of the ordinary. Would a weapon that fires caseless ammunition fit such a bill? They exist but are certainly unusual….

  2. bob r Says:

    You know it occurs to me that any new technology could be banned if this dangerous or unusual meme sticks.

    Exactly why we should _stop_ writing “dangerous or unusual”. That phrase occurs only once in the Heller opinion and even there it was only quoting from Miller where in Miller it was quoting from the government’s brief.

    From Heller, at page 55:

    We also recognize another important limitation on the
    right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have
    explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those
    “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think
    that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition
    of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual
    weapons.”

    I think the “and” is very important as it requires the weapon to be _both_ dangerous _and_ unusual. I would also take “dangerous” to mean dangerous to the user or to mean indiscriminate in effect, e.g., a hand grenade. With this reading caseless ammo would be okay. Machine guns would also be okay — they may not be “common” but there is certainly nothing particularly “unusual” _or_ “dangerous” about them.

    It would seem the “in common use at the time” phrasing is subject to attack also: the first amendment certainly protects more than just what was “in common use at the time”. I am not aware of any legitimate reason the same should not apply to the second — particularly when one considers the very purpose of the second.

  3. Stormy Dragon Says:

    I don’t think the court specified that machineguns were what they meant when they referred to dangerous and unusual weapons.

    Par for the course. Why should the ATF stop making up stuff now?

  4. kaveman Says:

    You see this?

    5. The applicant takes his or her completed application to a licensed firearm dealer to take delivery of the pistol. If the dealer is outside the District, the dealer transports the pistol to a licensed dealer in the District to complete the transaction.

    I wasn’t aware that DC had any licensed dealers besides Josh Sugarmann.

  5. SayUncle Says:

    There’s apparently 6 dealers.

  6. RAH Says:

    At least the ATF take on Heller is better than the FBI. I am not surprised they took the interpretation that unusual and dangerous was against machine guns. I believe it was meant to assuage their fears.

  7. Ron W Says:

    Constitutionally, the ATF is “unusual” and dangerous to our rights. It should be disabanded and its personnel reassigned to the Border Patrol which is “usual” where they could do us some good to “protect the States against invasion” (ArticleIV, Section 4 and still be “dangerous” to those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.

  8. vinnie Says:

    I have been waiting for someone to point out that the select fire AK 47 is THE gun “in common use”.

  9. DirtCrashr Says:

    Sullivan’s gotta go and the ATF needs to go with it. Away.

  10. chris Says:

    i have been making the same argument about the word and for years but in a different argument…

    why are we waisting all this tax money on the electric chair and lethal injections… bring back hangings and firing squads…

    they might indeed be cruel… but they arent cruel andunusual… in fact they are quite common…

  11. straightarrow Says:

    Ron W. I disagree. They should be disbanded, but should be forever prohibited from employment in any law enforcement capacity and most other government capacities.

  12. Lyle Says:

    Give F Troop a break. If the 2nd were strictly enforced, they’d all be unemployed.

    I say buy them off. Give each of them a big severence package, say “thanks” and send them packing. Auction off all department assets. It’s the least painful way to rid ourselves of an institution that should never have existed.

  13. Jim W Says:

    I’d be perfectly happy to not carry my machine guns so long as I am able to own them and keep them at home.

  14. Jim W Says:

    The original english law he is referring to was almost exactly the same as modern laws in open carry states that forbid “going armed to the terror of the public” and similar such language. The idea is that when the townspeople see a guy walking down the street dressed for a bank robbery or a war it will disturb the peace.

    Note that this says nothing whatsoever about what weapons may be KEPT as opposed to carried in public.