The Supreme Court may finally rule on "assault weapon" bans

In the next few days we may find out whether or not the Supreme Court will take up the appeal in Friedman vs. City of Highland Park. The Chicago area city passed a ban on so called “assault weapons” a few years ago and the law has been tied up in the courts since then. The challenge to the law brought by Arie Friedman and others has been shot down through the appeals process thus far, most recently this past spring in the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. But given the general disposition of the Supremes on Second Amendment issues lately, if they agree to hear the case at all there’s a very good chance the law will be going down. (LA Times)

The justices on Friday were to consider the appeal in Friedman vs. City of Highland Park. If they refuse to hear the appeal, the announcement could come as early as Tuesday morning. Such a decision would signal that cities have the authority to restrict high-powered weapons.

But if the justices vote to take up the case, it would put in doubt the constitutionality of laws in other places, including California, that prohibit semiautomatic weapons.

“These are some of the most popular firearms commonly used by law-abiding citizens in America,” said David H. Thompson, a lawyer for the Illinois gun owners who are challenging the assault weapons ban adopted in the North Shore Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

It would be wonderful if some of the reporters covering these stories could get together and make up their minds as to how they’re going to describe the subject matter at hand. Are you hoping for a ban on “high-powered weapons” or are you looking to get rid of automatic weapons? If the former, that’s a pretty vague description and you’ve gone after the wrong firearms. As we’ve discussed here previously, the .223 fired by a standard, civilian AR 15 is one of the weaker center fire cartridges out there. Muzzle velocity is definitely variable based on barrel length, but most AR 15 models tend to come with a shorter barrel. The .223 with a 55 grain load winds up delivering less than 2,000 ft-lbs of energy or roughly 1,800 joules. Compare that to Remington’s .30-06 which clocks in with more than 4,000 joules using a standard round. (You can check out some good ballistics charts on the weapon with various loads here.) Which one of these did you want to ban again?

Or were you just talking about banning it because it’s semi-automatic? First of all, so are a vast array of the handguns out there. (I know… plenty of you prefer a revolver and there’s much to be said for them, but there are many fine semi-automatics as well.) Surely you’re not talking about a handgun ban again, are you? Because that’s not going anywhere. So let’s just focus on those scary looking “assault rifles” such as the ones sold by Remington. Here’s one now.


Wow. That does look frightening, doesn’t it? Looks like something straight out of a war movie. I’m sure you’d prefer we have something a lot more peaceful and “normal” looking instead of a “weapon of war” as Hillary described it last week. For instance, here’s a nice, normal, handsome fellow that you probably won’t take issue with.


But I’ve got some bad news for you, sunshine. The first one is an Ar 15 style model which, as we already noted, fires a .223 and is semi-automatic. The second, “normal” looking one is Remington’s Model 750. It is also semi-automatic and it packs one heck of a lot more punch with a .35 caliber round. It’s also a very popular hunting rifle for big game.

When the Supreme Court addresses this case (assuming they agree to hear it) I only hope that they have someone on hand to stand up and explain all this to the justices. An “assault weapons” ban is essentially a term with no meaning. It doesn’t just need to be thrown out on the basis of being unconstitutional… it also fails on the grounds of simply being stupid.

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