It's not a gun control supporter's entire wish list come true, but it's not too far from it. The commission tasked by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy to help "bring about change" in the wake of the December 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has issued its final report and recommendations on gun control and other subjects ostensibly related to public safety. We noted a preliminary draft of the commission's report last month.
The list of the commission's anti-gun recommendations is long, so let's start with two that are most offensive to the Second Amendment and the fundamental right that it protects. Recommendation 10 would "Prohibit the possession, sale or transfer of any firearm capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading." Much broader than the "assault weapon" ban imposed in Connecticut in 2013, the ban now proposed by the commission would apply to all rifles, pistols and shotguns that use a detachable magazine, as well as many tubular-magazine rifles and shotguns. Recommendation 4, imposed in 2013, bans "the sale, possession, or use of any magazine or ammunition feeding device in excess of 10 rounds," which the commission says "have no legitimate place in the civilian population."
The commission says that its massive gun and magazine bans are constitutionally permissible under the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), on the grounds that people wishing to use guns for self-defense and other purposes "remain free to engage in those activities with a vast array of [other] long guns and handguns."
That's wrong, however. The very same argument was expressly rejected in Heller. When the District tried to defend its handgun ban on the grounds that some rifles and shotguns remained legal, the Court said: "It is no answer to say, as [the District does], that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. . . . [H]andguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid." (Emphasis added.)
Furthermore, the Court said, the "the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right," which is "the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation," including "all instruments that constitute bearable arms" that are "in common use." Detachable-magazine rifles and handguns designed for defensive purposes account for roughly half of the more than 10 million new firearms bought by Americans each year, and a majority of them, being designed for defensive purposes, are designed to use magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Therefore, under Heller's "common use" requirement, the self-defense oriented guns and magazines that the commission wants banned are arguably the most constitutionally-protected in existence.
The commission errs further in claiming that its gun and magazine ban is a type of restriction that Heller endorsed. To the contrary, the Court never endorsed the presumptive validity of banning most modern repeating arms and if anything suggested that such a ban would be unconstitutional.
Completing the commission's utter failure to justify its proposed bans on constitutional grounds, it says it "took seriously the rights afforded under the Second Amendment, but balanced those rights against the language of the Preamble to the Constitution, which includes assurances of--domestic tranquility and the obligation to--promote the general welfare." In fact, the Framers were well aware of the Preamble when they added the Second Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, and obviously did not think the two conflicted with one another. In fact, the whole reason to protect the right to arms in the Bill of Rights was to enhance freedom and security, both public and private. That gun control advocates have a different view of the utility and wisdom of firearm ownership does not change the meaning or intent of the Constitution. It simply means gun control advocates are at odds with history and the nation's Founders.
Other recommendations made by the commission include mandatory background checks on all sales or transfers of firearms, registration of all firearms, limitation of firearm permits to persons who demonstrate firearm handling skill and knowledge of laws and regulations, a ban on the possession or sale of "armor-piercing" and "incendiary" bullets (not defined), a ban on the purchase of ammunition for non-registered firearms, regulations or a ban on the sale and purchase of ammunition via the Internet, a limit on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at one time, mandatory storage of firearms in a locked container at home, mandatory serial numbers on all ammunition cartridges sold or possessed, requiring gun owners to pass a "suitability screening process" and prohibiting the operation of a gun show without a permit.
At least the next time that we hear gun control supporters refer to "commonsense" gun laws, "gun sense," and "responsible solutions," we'll have a much clearer idea about what they have in mind.