A Federal Court Says States Can Ban Modern Sporting Rifles

posted on September 23, 2019
U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton

A federal judge upheld California’s ban on many popular semi-automatic rifles. U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton said the state could do this because “assault weapons” are “essentially indistinguishable from M-16s.”

The case was brought by several gun owners in 2017. They were trying to prove the obvious, that California’s “assault-weapon” ban is unconstitutional, as it bans commonly owned and popular firearms.

The judge justified her decision, in part, by claiming modern sporting rifles (MSR) are not popularly owned. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) begs to differ. “More than 16 million were sold to the American public by 2018, making them one of the most commonly owned firearms in America,” says the NSSF.

Judge Staton also argued that “semiautomatic assault rifles are essentially indistinguishable from M-16s, which Heller noted could be banned pursuant to longstanding prohibitions on dangerous and unusual weapons, the Court need not reach the question of whether semiautomatic rifles are excluded from the Second Amendment because they are not in common use for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

The facts that semi-automatic designs in rifle, pistols and shotguns are very popular and common today didn’t dissuade this judge. She went on to say, “Importantly, the Second Amendment does not ‘protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.’ Thus, longstanding prohibitions on the possession of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’ have uniformly been recognized as falling outside the scope of the Second Amendment.”

Again, MSRs are typically possessed by law-abiding Americans, but regardless this judge said, “Here, the Attorney General argues that (1) ‘[a]ssault rifles may be banned because they are, like the M-16, ‘weapons that are most useful in military service’; and ‘they are also not ‘in common use’ for lawful purposes like self-defense.’”

This judge either doesn’t know, or simply ignored, the reality that every firearm type now used by American citizens was once or is now used by law enforcement and the military. She also continues to ignore the popularity of MSRs.

Judge Stanton does note that “[t]he difference between the M-16 and semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 is that the M-16 allows the shooter to fire in either automatic or semiautomatic mode, while semiautomatic rifles fire only in semiautomatic mode. However, based on the evidence presented by the Attorney General, this is a distinction without a difference. In enacting the now-defunct federal ban on assault rifles, Congress found that their rate of fire—300 to 500 rounds per minute—makes semiautomatic rifles “virtually indistinguishable in practical effect from machineguns.”

For this incredible “300-to-500-round-per-minute” figure, she cites U.S. Code [26 U.S.C. § 5845(b)]. But that code doesn’t make any such claim. It merely notes, for example, that “[t]he term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”

The case will likely be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit.



More Evidence that Gun-Control Activists Hate Armed Citizens

Many on the other side of the Second Amendment debate tend to think that a person saving their own life and the lives of others is automatically a bad thing.

Shooting Straight with Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson burst onto the scene in 2018 with a speech he gave defending our freedom at a town council meeting that went viral. In 2020, he became lieutenant governor of North Carolina. We wanted to know what he has to say about this midterm election.

Debunking Myths About the Big, Bad Gun Industry

The best hope for American freedom is to fight falsehoods about gun ownership, crime and more with the truth.

The Races That Will Decide Our Freedom

Whether a majority of pro-freedom candidates win in this midterm election will depend on how the individual races highlighted here turn out. That being said, every local, state and congressional race matters.

The Lovely Art of Going Afield, Shotgun in Hand

The stories we write as we go afield and tell later are what it is all about.

The Armed Citizen® September 23, 2022

True stories of the right to keep and bear arms.


Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.