Friday, August 17, 2012

Why California's Latest Gun Control Bill Failed

This week California's latest gun control bill was killed in committee.  It was killed by a liberal Democrat who normally favors gun control.  How in the world did this happen?  Why did this bill (SB249) die?  The best place to begin answering this question is with some undeniable facts regarding SB249:

1) Not one crime has ever been committed with the guns that Yee's bill would have banned.

2) Yee's bill focuses on how the gun looks and how it is held, rather than it's firepower

3) SB249 doesn't affect semi-automatic firearms that "look OK", but are much easier to reload.

4) SB249, if passed, could very well result in the overturning of California's Assault Weapons law. This was recognized by Chairman Gatto in his public statements on the matter.

Some observations on the above:

First, in the past the first three facts would not have matter one bit - and the fourth fact would not have even existed.  Things have really changed since the Heller and McDonald decisions were handed down by the Supreme Court.

Second, Yee attempted to get this bill passed by lying. Although they look very similar, the guns he was trying to ban function very differently than those making headlines. Yet he constantly tries to equate these two very different guns.

Third, and most significant, Senator Yee is living in denial concerning the 2nd Amendment.

Before the Heller and McDonald decisions were handed down by the Supreme Court, states passed gun laws as if the 2nd Amendment did not exist. They did so by arguing that the 2nd Amendment only applied to the militia. Now the high court has established that the 2nd Amendment protects a personal right that is enforceable against the states - and that this right is "fundamental to our system of ordered liberty". This indicates that the protected right is to be accorded a high level of protection - comparable to freedom of the press, religion, speech, etc.

At this point, there appear to be two tests that determine if a firearm is protected: Does the firearm have "militia value"? (Established in Miller.) AND Is the firearm "in common use" by civilians? (Established in Heller). Clearly an AR15 pattern rifle has militia value - but it is also "in common use" in as much as it is the most commonly sold firearm type in the US. These facts place the current CA assault weapons ban in jeopardy.

So, how could the current CA law be defended? The most logical way would be to argue that these guns are not banned, they are merely restricted as to how the magazine operates (and what magazines can be used) in the interest of public safety. The best defense for the CA Assault Weapons ban is the Bullet Button that Yee wants to ban in SB249. Outlaw the Bullet Button and you remove that defense - and probably doom the whole Assault Weapons ban.

This is why Chairman Gatto said "the bill would almost certainly result in expensive lawsuits that, if they went in favor of gun rights groups, could actually undermine California's gun control laws. 'We could end up where this bill did the exact opposite of what it was designed to do',"

Chairman Gatto is operating in the present. Senator Yee is operating in the past. The most productive thing that California gun control advocates can do is to follow Assemblyman Gatto's example and hold their fire until the Supreme Court clarifies exactly what restrictions are and are not constitutional. If they choose to follow Yee's example, they do so at their peril.

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