The purposes of the Second Amendment and its associated traditional rights include
- Assuring that the people can protect their own lives, come what may--from brigands and highwaymen, for example;
- Giving the states a pool of citizens, and arms, from which to form defense forces at need;
- As a last resort, resistance to tyranny, whether the tyrant is foreign or domestic.
All of these can be summed up, for my purposes here, in a single principle: The people are to have arms adequate for their own defense against armed aggression. That means something like parity in armament with those who may threaten them.
A flintlock musket will no longer suffice. The people need arms that enable them to oppose criminals and tyrants and do it with some prospects of success.
There are limits, of course, to what sort of weaponry the Second Amendment protects. The Heller decision took that into account. But it makes nonsense of the decision, and of the whole purpose of the Second Amendment, if the people are not allowed arms that are efficient and suitably up to date. So then: What armament is appropriate and what arms are excessive?
As I said, a flintlock musket will no longer do. It was adequate, but only for its day. If, by the rude bridge that arched the flood, the embattled farmers had not had guns approximately equal to the ones they were facing, their shots would not have been heard around the world. They would have been cut down in minutes. But, because the redcoats had muskets, and the farmers had muskets and could shoot them better, the day went fairly well and America was on its way to independence.
No wonder the country's framers insisted that the people have guns of their own. There would have been no United States of America without that. They knew about tyranny and they knew that tyrants like to disarm the people.
Regardless of what any new law says, criminals will have modern, technically advanced rifles and big magazines. So will all potential tyrants, foreign or domestic. If I have only neutered magazines, I am outvoted three to one (ten rounds against thirty). That is not parity. In some situations it is not even a fighting chance.
The problem is that most shots fired in gunfights miss. We have good statistics for that, and it is the real reason for large magazines on fighting firearms. Here is an incident where police fired 73 times at a suspect, scoring two hits: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/09/daniel-zimmerman/ny-cops-may-have-killed-bystander-with-one-of-71-stray-bullets/
For a while, the New York City Police Department's officers were limited to ten round magazines in their pistols, in some sort of administrative kowtow to political correctness. That pseudo-enlightened policy went by the wayside after cops got into some gunfights and ran short of ammunition. Why did they run out? No one in else in New York needs a magazine of more than ten rounds; the politicians say so, so it must be true. Of course I am being facetious.
The draconian ban now being proposed leaves law abiding citizens at a disadvantage against the very threats they are supposed to be able to oppose. In protecting one's own person, one's home and family, or the nation, one needs a weapon up to that task. And what is that weapon? The most popular and best selling self defense rifles are of military pattern, thus of proven reliability, adapted for civilian sales by being limited to firing a single shot when the trigger is pulled. They are not assault rifles properly so called, for their mechanisms do not permit burst firing. These rifles are invariably equipped, if the rifles' owners are able legally to do so, with magazines of thirty rounds or so. We ought leave the decision of what weapons the people need, insofar as possible, with the people themselves. As a side note, illustrative of what guns the people want, AR-15 rifles and their 30 round magazines sold out in all the shops as soon as the new ban was announced.
It is my hope that this gun ban bill will not pass; it solves the wrong problem and is careless with a civil right. The problems we should be solving are better gun storage, so that the wrong persons do not access the weapons of the law abiding, and the presence of the dangerously insane people mainstreamed into society. Both guns and the violently insane should be locked away.
We should reevaluate the idea of making zones gun free by decree, for it is clear that such a policy does not do what is claimed. Armed protectors in schools? Bill Clinton thought it was a good idea and that was okay by liberals; Wayne LaPierre of the NRA suggests it and the left is horrified! As for banning AR-15's and other military-looking rifles, that is a myopic fixation. More people each year are murdered with hammers and other blunt instruments. The primary uses of such rifles are sport shooting, farm pest control and home defense. They are efficient defense guns without being excessive; they are the sorts of arms a free people ought to have.