By Christian Chen, Staff Writer
In the wake of school shootings with assault rifle-toting psychopaths, controversy has risen around the banning of assault weapons. Some people claim that the Second Amendment is against such an act but others say the Second Amendment is for it, but are the anti-AR people right?
In my opinion, the problem started 10 years ago, when people in the Supreme Court viewed the Second Amendment as one that protected an individual’s rights to possess a firearm for personal and law-abiding reasons. Fast forward to 2018, when we have a new problem concerning laws that ban an entire category of weapons for civilian usage. There’s also the problem that the Second Amendment is vague, and when the Second Amendment was enacted, assault rifles did not even exist.
According to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Second Amendment does not prohibit government from restricting felons or “mentally ill” people from possessing guns. Additionally, he suggested that there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the outlawing of possession of dangerous and/or unusual firearms.
There are between 8.5 million and 15 million assault rifles owned by Americans today. That being said, the supporters claim that this does not mean the government can’t outlaw them, as some states and cities already have. Sure, some of those laws have been challenged, but the Supreme Court did not reverse them. Justice Scalia recognized that banning certain guns is actually constitutionally permissible. He also acknowledged that “weapons most useful in military service” may not be protected and assault rifles may certainly fall in that category too.
The people who are against such an act tell a different story. They cite problems in the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, claiming that the Second Amendment does not cover “dangerous and unusual weapons”, which also sound like vague terms. The massive flaw, according to the anti-AR ban party’s reasoning, is that all weapons are potentially dangerous and useful in military applications. Furthermore, at the time the Second Amendment was adopted, men summoned to militia duties were expected to “appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” The Amendment not only protects weaponry that may be useful in a military complex, but it protects those useful in military service too. The conclusion follows that banning assault rifles from civilian use is unconstitutional.
Personally, I can understand why the Second Amendment was worded the way it was. Sure, the founding fathers did not live to see the day that assault rifles would even become a thing in the first place (and I’m pretty sure they would be surprised if they had). But I do agree with the anti-AR ban party. The vagueness of the Second Amendment seems to be the target of exploitation by our own government in order to justify totally “unconstitutional things.” The way I see it, banning assault rifles from civilian usage is not constitutional. The reason why I say this is that nowhere in the Second Amendment does it specify that a certain weapon must be owned in order for a militia to be counted as “a well-regulated militia”. Think about it. Handguns are standard issue military weapons, and so have shotguns and bolt-action rifles. On top of that, virtually every weapon has been used by the U.S. military, including knives and tomahawks.
The Constitution is neither for nor against the use of assault weapons by civilians, and it seems problematic to use the vagueness of the Second Amendment to support such an action. Therefore, I agree that owning an assault rifle, as a civilian anyway, is not constitutionally wrong.