Quote of the day—United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

We reject the State’s argument that the Second Amendment does not apply to detachable magazines because magazines are not firearms—that is, detachable magazines do not constitute “bearable” arms that are expressly protected by the Second Amendment. See U.S. Const. amend. II. By Maryland’s logic, the government can circumvent Heller, which established that the State cannot ban handguns kept in the home for self-defense, simply by prohibiting possession of individual components of a handgun, such as the firing pin. But of course, without the ability to actually fire a gun, citizens cannot effectively exercise the right to bear arms. See Jackson v. City of San Francisco, 746 F.3d 953, 967 (9th Cir. 2014) (“The Second Amendment protects ‘arms,’ ‘weapons,’ and ‘firearms’; it does not explicitly protect ammunition. Nevertheless, without bullets, the right to bear arms would be meaningless.”). In our view, “the right to possess firearms for protection implies a corresponding right” to possess component parts necessary to make the firearms operable.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
February 4, 2016
No. 14-1945; STEPHEN V. KOLBE et al. v. State of Maryland
[It’s nice to find a court that agrees with us and is making clear what we gun rights activists all know to be true and essential.

This answers the ignorant high school kid I quoted yesterday.—Joe]

7 thoughts on “Quote of the day—United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    • I agree, that would have been nice.

      However, they did specifically write, “without the ability to actually fire a gun, citizens cannot effectively exercise the right to bear arms,” and cited Jackson v. San Francisco (“The Second Amendment protects ‘arms,’ ‘weapons,’ and ‘firearms’; it does not explicitly protect ammunition. Nevertheless, without bullets, the right to bear arms would be meaningless.”), which shows they understand that prohibiting ammunition DOES run afoul of Second Amendment rights, AND they wrote their opinion to reflect that understanding.

      Overall, a win.

  1. friends:

    good lord, a u.s. court of appeals decision that is rational, logical, based on the law and the text of the constitution, and more than anything else, makes sense. i never thought that i would live this long.

    john jay

    p.s. practiced law for 25 years. i’ve read a few of these decisions, … , and, i was not kidding in the text above.

  2. I said in the last post on this decision that the U.S. Court of Appeals tends to look for faults in the procedures, rather than rule on the merits of the cases they review.

    That said, now that they’ve remanded the case back to the lower court and said the law must face strict scrutiny, what (hypothetically) would happen if the lower court nevertheless upheld the law again, either based on a flawed definition of strict scrutiny (“strict-ermediate scrutiny”?) or using intermediate scrutiny again despite the Appeals court’s directive?

    The reason I ask is because, despite being “settled law”, lower courts routinely disregard Heller and McDonald and face no sanctions. What’s going to prevent the lower court from doing whatever the Hell they want, even openly defying the higher court’s orders?

    • Well, arguably the duty of a judge is to his oath, which is to protect and defend the Constitution. Is isn’t to obey the precedents of the higher courts. The merit of precedent is that it gives a default answer, but I can see no Constitutional justification for obedience to precedent or to higher courts when the Constitution or the law directs a different answer.
      Of course, higher courts can reverse lower courts (they aren’t limited to sending the case back for another attempt). And Congress can impeach judges, and should do so far more often than is current practice.

  3. Archer,

    I would hope that proximity would play a part. It is one thing to thumb your nose at a several year old ruling by the Supremes, knowing that given their busy schedule the odds of them responding to your indirect resistance are low, another to immediately do so to the direct-next-Court in line.

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