I was as astonished by Solicitor General Paul Clement’s brief as was Mr. VerBruggen. As noted in an L.A. Times article, “Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, said he saluted the administration for recognizing a need for limits on gun rights.” Like Mr. VerBruggen says “with friends like these…”
But I caution Mr. VerBruggen when he writes “MACHINE guns cannot be traced back to the Founding era.” Quite reasonably, one can make the same argument for the 1860 transition to metallic cartridge ammunition, the repeating firearms that used that metallic cartridge ammunition (Confederate soldiers complaining that Federals “would load on Sunday and fire all week”), the 1900 transition to self-loading, semi-automatic pistols and rifles, and the World War I transition to fully automatic firearms of all sizes.
This is not an academic exercise, for this is precisely the argument made by the enactors of the 1994 federal “assault gun” ban, which fundamentally identified semi-automatic, detachable magazine firearms as the subject of strict federal control, you might say because they “cannot be traced back to the Founding era.” And just in case the reader might think that a blackpowder flintlock pistol or rifle might escape strict control, take a look at the laws of my home state of New Jersey. Trenton treats such weapons with no legal difference than a latest design Walther or Colt.
And just to put machine guns in perspective, not an easy matter, consider the February 1997 incident in Los Angeles where two bank robbers in full body armor and full auto AK-47s took on Los Angeles police armed with pistols and shotguns. The end result? Both robbers dead, no policemen killed. Intuition and reality are not always the same.p>The criteria cannot be tracing back to the Founding era, but rather that the firearm is an individual weapon that can be used to defend one’s property, life or essential freedom. Individual (not weapon) licensing and proficiency demonstration may be reasonably written and required. And that is so because it is “necessary to the security of a free state.” br> — Frank Natoli br> Newton, New Jersey /p>