A simile is like a metaphor

Massachusetts Ban on Most Self-Defense Firearms Violates Second Amendment | Cato @ Liberty

The trial judge followed the lead of the Maryland case of Kolbe v. Hogan (in which Cato filed a brief supporting a petition to the Supreme Court), misconstruing from a shred of the landmark 2008 Supreme Court opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller that the test for whether a class of weapons could be banned was whether it was “like an M-16.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (in which Cato also filed a brief), conjured up a complex interest-balancing test that boiled down to a much simpler question: is it like a handgun? If not, the weapon is not sufficiently “well-suited” to self-defense in the home and can be banned. Both tests contravene the core holding of Heller that all weapons in common civilian use are constitutionally protected…

Although the courts have uniformly looked to statistical data of some form in establishing common use, they have been unable to agree on what the relevant statistic is. The total number of the banned weapons owned, the percentage the banned weapons constitute of the total national arms stock, and the number of jurisdictions in which the banned weapons are lawful have all been used to determine the breadth of constitutional protection. By any metric, however, the weapons banned by the Massachusetts law are clearly in “common use.”

We all need to do our part for “common use” by buying a variety of firearms, making it easier for the leftwing legal clerisy to recognize “common use.”* Creating gun bans by simile is overtaxing their imaginations and stamina.

SCOTUS’ District of Columbia v. Heller decision opened the simile door a bit more in this infelicitous bit:

[T]he sorts of weapons protected are the sorts of small arms that were lawfully possessed at home at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification, not those most useful in military service today, so “M-16 rifles and the like” may be banned.

Ratification of the Second Amendment was in 1791. The small arms possessed at home in 1791 were identical to those “most useful in military service.” In fact, a large proportion of those small arms possessed at home were in military service. The term ‘militia’ comes to mind.

The “lawfully possessed at home” in 1791 interpretation doesn’t plausibly cover the mechanism of the vast majority of firearms in use today. Percussion caps were just being prototyped by 1807. And, if that’s how a judge chooses to interpret District of Columbia v. Heller, you can grab your flintlock.

The left has argued exactly this: “The Second Amendment only applies to flintlocks.” That they are disingenuous in this is shown by the fact they won’t accept the corollary argument that “The Press” means hand operated printing presses based on moving bits of lead around, and that the internet should be shut down despite the First Amendment. Well, OK, they are arguing speech on the internet can be banned. But not because it’s technology invented since 1791.

Still, potential for banning modern firearm technology is not the most egregious part of that snippet. That distinction belongs to the phrase “and the like.” We’ll look at why that is momentarily. First we need to note some characteristics of an M-16.

An M-16 is a magazine fed automatic weapon (of which civilian possession has been severely restricted since 1934). It is rifled, breech loading, and uses brass cased ammunition with a primer ignited by a firing pin. Those are characteristics you could use for saying it’s ‘like’ something else. Just about any semi-automatic firearm, if we’re honest about it.

If the Progressives knew anything about how guns work they could have a field day banning technologies invented after 1800. Rifling (1498) and breech loading (16th century) are safe. Not much else is.

Under “common use”-1791, firearms capable of holding more than one cartridge (Magazine – 1860) could be banned. Firing pins (1840) could be banned. Primer fired brass cased ammo (18xx) could be banned. Oh, revolvers (1836) could be eliminated entirely. Forget your 1911.

There’s more, but we don’t need it to make the point: “And the like” bans based on 1791 technology would eliminate 95% of guns commonly in civilian use today. That’s actually how they approach it. I know it’s said that gun bans are often based on cosmetics, like adjustable stocks, pistol grips, and flash hiders. Mostly true, but the cosmetics would be much different without, for example, that scary normal capacity detachable magazine. This is a way to attack the technology using appearance.

Yet even that’s less nonsensical than California’s attempt to specify nonexistent technology as a means of banning firearms – microstamping casings.

The state argued that a law should not be struck down simply because it is impossible to implement.

“Like, impossible Dude.”

Consider the word ‘like.’ It doesn’t mean ‘identical,’ and it depends on what you select to compare. An apple is like an orange; if you focus on shape, size, nutritional profile, and even which end of the spectrum skin color tends toward. A whale is biologically more like a dog than it is a frog. ‘Like,’ lets you cherry pick the comparators fitting your desired outcome.

A frog is like a Granny Smith if you consider internal temperature, skin color, and dependence on insects.

The differences between a handgun and a rifle have nothing to do with the irrelevant criteria the Massachusetts court must necessarily have applied. Which outside of those various cosmetic features and size (having excluded automatic weapons – 1883), boils down to the capability of using a detachable magazine and/or with a capacity higher than 10 rounds. Modern firearms are all like each other.

And tell that bit about “is it like a handgun” to the pregnant woman who used an AR-15 to defend her family last week – that it wasn’t “well suited” to self defense. An AR is more accurate, easier to use than a handgun, and can hold more rounds – rounds you might need in a one on many firefight. The only question is, “Can it be used for self defense?” Not relevant is, “The court would like you not to have a gun for home defense, but if you do, use a handgun we won’t let you carry outside the home.”

Looks ‘like’ an M-16 does not compute. ‘Like’ a handgun includes machine pistols.

The Progressives have been struggling to define “assault weapon” for decades. The fact they focus on cosmetics is reason enough for the jurisprudent to discard this ‘like’ business.

*”Common use” is ‘like’ everyone else has, so it’s a collectivist standard for an individual civil liberty. And I think it might prohibit rail guns, as one example. Not that we have any man-portable rail guns yet, but we will.

Check your privilege Chelsea

My armed guards aren’t killing children and don’t have semi automatic weapons.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) March 28, 2018

I’m not sure who she is, but she obviously thinks she has a right to physical protection. I agree with that bit. Unfortunately, I can’t afford armed guards.

My armed guard (me) sometimes carries a semi-automatic handgun and sometimes a revolver. In both cases, one squeeze of the trigger produces one discharge. The main difference is that my usual semi-auto carry holds 7 rounds and my usual revolver carry holds only 5.

If I were hired to defend someone else, I’d be less concerned about comfortable carry. I’d be much less concerned that someone could tell I had a firearm: Maybe it’s a deterrent if you realize someone has a professional armed guard you have to shoot first?

Since I’d be more concerned about multiple assailants, I’d definitely carry something that held 10 or more rounds: I.e., a larger semi-auto. If Ms. Handler’s guards aren’t doing so, then she should fire them.

I’m not shooting any children, either.

So. She thinks she should be allowed to pay someone else to defend her, and that I should not be allowed to defend myself.

No. If I can’t defend myself with a gun, Ms. Handler can’t be allowed to let someone else defend her with one.

And, you know what? If I thought I needed armed guards, I’d still carry my own. Especially then.

So much winning

What if you could simultaneously:

1. Reduce gun deaths,
2. Institute major sentencing reform,
3. Meaningfully make black lives matter,
4. And reduce the rapid increase in deaths from opioids?

The best single policy to advance all these causes would be to end the War on Drugs.

Drug related homicides in Progressive strongholds such as Washington D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia would decline, so a major cause for the deaths of black men involving firearms (nearly 6,000 gun deaths annually, or 31.7 homicides per 100,000 black men) would be eliminated. The need for drug related police intervention, and the friction between blacks and police because of it, would be decreased.

The disproportionate sentencing of blacks for the sale and use of drugs would be reduced. Inner-city neighborhoods would be safer and other crimes would decline.

On black lives and firearms, from the Brookings Institution:

“The vast majority (77 percent) of white gun deaths are suicides; less than one in five (19 percent) is a homicide.

These figures are nearly opposite in the black population, where only 14 percent of gun deaths are suicides but 82 percent are homicides:”

Without the War on Drugs, older white men might still commit suicide at high rates (nearly 16,000 annual gun deaths, or 16.3 suicides per 100,000 white men), but to some of the SJWs out there, this is a benefit.

Annual gun death data from here, a good place to interactively apply demographics to gun death stats.

Another benefit of ending the War on Drugs would be that doctors who prescribe, and patients who truly need the pain relief provided by, opioids would be be better off.

“the overdose death rate from opioids hit a record high of 33,000 in 2015 — but the majority of deaths were from heroin, and deaths from fentanyl doubled over the previous year. Overdoses from prescription opioids, however, are stabilizing or even receding.”

There is also evidence that where marijuana is legally available, Jeff Sessions notwithstanding, the use of more dangerous drugs declines:
State Medical Marijuana Laws Linked to Lower Prescription Overdose Deaths
-Johns Hopkins

“In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal, new research suggests.”

Do Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Addictions and Deaths Related to Pain Killers?
-RAND Corporation

“We study the impact of medical marijuana laws on problematic opioid use. Based on standard differences-in-differences models, event study analyses, and synthetic control models, we find that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths. The mitigating effect of medical marijuana laws is specific to states that permit dispensaries.”

Medical marijuana reduces use of opioid pain meds, decreases risk for some with chronic pain
-University of Michigan

“Patients using medical marijuana to control chronic pain reported a 64 percent reduction in their use of more traditional prescription pain medications known as opioids, a University of Michigan study finds.”

So, the expansion of marijuana dispensaries looks like it might drive down the social and monetary costs for emergency medical intervention. Ending the War on Drugs can start there. And we get the bonus titillation of thwarting Jeff Sessions.

Quality control applied to the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin and Fentanyl, would make self administration safer through accurate dosage of unadulterated drugs.

Finally, over a relatively short time, the number of overdose deaths would decline because most of those prone to overdose would have succumbed.

This last may seem cynical and cruel, but those are the people who will overdose, or die from hepatitis, etc. in any case. At least they will not have been shot.

No one sane

Not the NRA; not people who voted for Donald Trump; not people who own guns, who like country music or pickup trucks: No one* wants it to be possible for a Stephen Paddock to murder even one person with a gun. However, none of the political policies put forward to ban or restrict weapons and ammunition actually address the problem. No one proposing them is able to say what set of laws could have prevented the Las Vegas massacre. They appeal to magical thinking.**

There’s a good reason for that. From the Washington Post:
I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

Leah Libresco is a person who dislikes guns, but she follows the evidence instead of the cynical talking points.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

I don’t expect this article will change the calculations of politicians and anti-Second Amendment types who can’t bear wasting any fundraising crisis, but any reasonable person – especially including those who dislike firearms – will gain from reading it.

Thank you, Leah Libresco, for your courage and honesty.

Read the whole thing, and the links there are also worth checking out.

Update, 1:25PM
*Maybe I spoke too soon, but I did say “sane”:

**Democrats Have No Idea How To Prevent Mass Shootings