Federal Court Upholds
California Assault Weapons Ban, Strongly Rebuts Ashcroft Justice Department
View That Second Amendment Guarantees an Individual Right to Keep and
response to today's 72-page decision in Silveira v. Lockyer by
the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals unanimously upholding California's
strict assault weapons ban and strongly rebutting the position embraced
by Attorney General John Ashcroft that the Second Amendment guarantees
an individual right to keep and bear arms, Violence Policy Center Litigation
Director and Legislative Counsel Matt Nosanchuk stated the following:
decision by the Ninth Circuit affirms the constitutionality of our nation's
toughest law banning assault weapons. With the federal assault weapons
ban scheduled to sunset next Congress, the California law stands as
one example of how to more effectively restrict these weapons of war.
It is important to remember that Attorney General John Ashcroft testified
before Congress that he, like President Bush, supports banning assault
weapons. If this ruling is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney
General Ashcroft, if asked, will be expected to stand by his sworn word.
At the same time,
the decision contains a comprehensive rebuttal to the claims made in
October 2001 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in U.S.
v Emerson that the Second Amendment guarantees an expansive individual
right to keep and bear arms. This interpretation has been embraced by
Attorney General Ashcroft. Citing cutting-edge scholarship such as the
2000 Chicago Kent Law Review�Symposium on the Second Amendment: Fresh
Looks, the Silveira decision details the history and context
of the Second Amendment, as well as existing legal precedent, and makes
clear that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right
to keep and bear arms. Individual rights advocates have waved the Emerson
decision like a battle flag. As seen today, all they have done is awaken
a sleeping giant of clear legal thinking and sound historical analysis
that finds that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual
right to own a gun. As the court states in Silveira: "The amendment
protects the people's right to maintain an effective state militia,
and does not establish an individual right to own or possess firearms
for personal or other use."
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Thursday, December 5, 2002
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105