Another Court Says AR-15s Aren’t Covered by the Second Amendment

Second Amendment


Another Court Says AR-15s Aren’t Covered by the Second Amendment

Buckeye, AZ –-( An egregious ruling out of a Federal Court in Massachusetts, is just the latest example of why judicial appointments are so critically important.  The fact that the ruling comes at a moment when anti-rights Democrats in the U.S. Senate are praising a Donald Trump nominee to the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, while Republican defenders of the Bill of Rights are criticizing Trump’s nominee over First and Second Amendment concerns.

The Massachusetts ruling came in a case filed by local rights advocates and the Gun Owners Action League, against the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Gun Owners' Action League - The Official Firearms Association of Massachusetts

GOAL sued Healey after she arbitrarily redefined the state’s “assault weapons” ban by including all guns with actions or internal parts that are interchangeable or similar to those of specifically banned firearms.  The Massachusetts ban, which was originally a mirror of the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, had been in place for almost 20 years when Healey decided to change the rules and retroactively add thousands of heretofore legal rifles to the banned list, making criminals of thousands of law-abiding gun owners.

The Massachusetts Legislature enacted the state law in 1998, using the same definitions and terminology used in the federal ban, including the “grandfather clause, which exempted guns owned prior to the September, 1994 from the restrictions.  By expanding the definition in 2016 to include firearms that are mechanically similar to those that were banned, Healey retroactively criminalized sale, purchase, and possession of all of the thousands of rifles and magazines that meet the new definitions, but had been legally acquired since the 1994 ban.  Those rifles and magazines are now contraband, and the individuals who possess them are felons – if this legal interpretation is allowed to stand.

GOAL and fellow plaintiffs sued to overturn the original law, and particularly block the implementation of the new definitions.  They contended that the original ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because it bans an entire class of firearms which are commonly owned and used for lawful purposes. They further contended that the new, expanded definitions were unconstitutional because the terminology used is unconstitutionally vague and confusing, and violates constitutional protections against ex post facto laws.

In the Federal District Court for the State of Massachusetts, Judge William Young, a Reagan appointee, declared that “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear arms.

To support that outrageous claim, Judge Young invoked the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, and the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, claiming that in Heller, Scalia specifically stated that the weapons most useful to service in a militia were not protected by the Second Amendment.

This is taken from a bit of dicta included in the Heller opinion, in which Justice Scalia was attempting to head-off future arguments based on the Court’s 1939 Miller decision.  In that decision the Court concluded that they could not say that a sawed-off shotgun was protected by the Second Amendment, because they had no knowledge of such a weapon being useful in militia service.

Scalia offered a hypothetical argument saying; “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause.

He’s suggesting that someone could use Miller to argue that restrictions on full-auto weapons are unconstitutional because those are the weapons “that are most useful in military service.”  He then goes on to answer that hypothetical challenge by arguing that the Miller decision hinged not on whether the weapon was militarily useful, but rather whether it was something that was commonly possessed for lawful purposes by members of the public.  He concluded that since full-auto’s are not very common in civilian hands, restrictions on them could probably be upheld as constitutional.

That’s a pretty thin argument, since those very restrictions are the only reason full-auto weapons like the M16 are not much more commonly owned, but to take that weak argument from Justice Scalia, and willfully distort it to claim that he was saying that guns that look like M16s aren’t protected by the Second Amendment, specifically because they are most useful in military service, is beyond outrageous, it’s downright treasonous.

This outrageous distortion didn’t originate with Judge Young however.  It was originally put forward last year by a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Kolbe v. Hogan, which challenged Maryland’s draconian ban on guns that look military.  That decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, and the cowardly justices refused to grant it a hearing, allowing the egregious ruling to stand.

Sam Adams would be calling for all of these judges to be defrocked and ridden out of town on a rail.  This is not a minor quibble over a legal technicality, but rather an intentional distortion to effect a desired outcome.  No honest reading of Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller could arrive at the conclusions that these judges reached, and it is even more shameful that the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have foregone their sworn duty, and allowed such conclusions to stand.

Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit:

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  1. Yup. It makes a lot of sense to make me a criminal. I’m not giving up my AR-15. It’s just ‘cuz the gun is black and looks scary?

    1. How about painting the ar15 pink and have pretty flowers on it,it wont be scary then to the snowflakes. Just cause it is black and looks like a m-16 doesnt make it one,so get real,please

    2. I agree with you completely they label this gun because it’s scary most of them don’t have a clue on hunting or the pleasure and enjoyment of shooting a gun

  2. That judge is corrupt. Getting paid by the deep state. Time to check the bank accounts. He knows nothing about the constitution. Twisting it for traitors of America.

  3. “the weapons most useful to service in a militia were not protected by the Second Amendment”, That means I should have unfettered access to own an M-16, if others aren’t of use to a militia!!!

    Also, by the reasoning of the judge in this article, movies, and TV’s aren’t covered under the 1st Amendment.

    1. The laws of the individual states during the first century of the US as a nation shows that this decision is either steeped in ignorance or an outright lie.
      Those laws specifically stated that all members of the militia (which included every healthy male between 16 and 60) were PERSONALLY responsible for having a weapon and shot reserved for use if called up by the militia.

      1. I was making a reply to Jeff’s statement about TV n movies – since there was no TV or even radio in the 1700s then by the anti-gunners’ logic TV n radio aren’t covered by the 1st amendment – GREAT POINT DUDE

  4. Pure BS, The 2nd states that we the people’ shell not be infringed, And we are the military, So are firearms must meet the military standards…………………………….

  5. The Constitution States…. “ARMS”….Not to be “infringed”. It doesn’t state AR’s ,Shotguns, Pistols…
    It’s states “Arms”. If you read the Constitution correctly the Peoples ARMS Rights have already been Infringed by the Government. Push comes to shove we can & will make it a lot more clearer.

  6. its really getting tough to be a law abiding citizen when stupid people can make retro active rulings taking away my constitutional rights. i honestly believe that if you take guns away from law abiding folks, only criminals will have guns and that’s not how i want to live. criminals very rarely have legally registered firearms no matter what the type

  7. what part of shall not be infringed
    do you not get!!!!!!!!!!!!The right of the people are give by The Bill of Rights:

    b 1. ( tr ) tov violate or break (a law, an agreement, etc) 2. ( intr; foll by on or upon ) to encroach or trespass [C16: from Latin infringere to break off, from frangere to break
    in·fringe (
    v. in·fringed, in·fring·ing, in·fring·es
    1. To transgress or exceed the limits of; violate: infringe a contract; infringe a patent.
    2. Obsolete To defeat; invalidate.
    v.intr. To encroach on someone or something; engage in trespassing: an increased workload that infringed on his personal life

    1. They are not given by the bill of rights, they were just spelled out in there making it clear to the Government that the right’s listed in the first ten amendments also known as the bill of rights are not to be messed with. We are born with these rights no Government can give or take them because they are GOD GIVEN RIGHTS not man made right’s that they can changed, restricted, or taken away. These so-called justices who are making these unconstitutional rulings shouldn’t even exist there’s no mention of them anywhere in the constitution. The only federal court we should have is the Supreme court and their main purpose is to make sure that the other two branches of government don’t pass laws that violate the constitution. Their second purpose is to make sure that the States keep their laws within the bounds of the constitution also. They are not supposed to be creating new laws, they are only to be looking at the laws created by the legislative and signed by the executive in federal and state governments and decide yes it falls within the bounds set by the constitution or no it violates some part of the constitution. This is supposed to be very simple but something changed at some point before my time on this earth began and in my lifetime the court has taken on more and more power until they began to legislate themselves, during this time they have done more to undermine the original intent of the constitution doing so much more harm to our Democratic Republic that if the founder’s returned today they would not recognize or be able to identify what our form of government is today. I can imagine them talking to the justices and politicians asking them what happened and what part of shall not be infringed was confusing to them, then explaining how they created and left very simple instructions for the generations that came after to follow how could they get so far off course in such a short period of time especially when we still have the instructions those running the country just had to look up every once in a while to see that they were still following them.

  8. Looks, like we are going to have to change the furniture on our rifles if this kind of non-sense is going to continue.

  9. There is an AR-15 that is NOT AUTOMATIC – it is the AR-15 Semi-Automatic Hunting Rifle.

    Colt is to blame for it being an Automatic….They changed it in 1959 from a Semi-Automatic to an Automatic.

  10. The second amendment does not address ownership of a particular firearm. To exclude a particular firearm on that basis makes no sense. The amendment addresses the right of the individual to own and bear arms. A ruling stating that ownership of a particular firearm under any circumstance by civilians is not protected under that declaration is inconsistent with the language. This cognitively corrupt jurist, consistent with His ruling here, can now define the second amendment as a protection of our right to arm bears and it will make just as much sense.

    1. If this judge’s ruling stands, then the entire constitution is meaningless and all citizens of the United States have no rights at all. A higher court needs to reverse this judge very soon before our present leader declares himself ruler for life.

  11. As far as I am concerned, the Second Amendment and indeed the ENTIRE Bill of Rights is to allow We The People to protect ourselves from an out of control government.

    In my opinion, this intends as concerns the Second that We The People are assured PARITY with the military and the police authorities.

    In my opinion We The People are ALREADY having our God-given and Constitutionally affirmed rights taken by government when we are not allowed full auto weapons, big magazines, etc.

    Our problems with mass shootings are not the weapons, but the deranged people who commit the acts.


    1. The reason they are coming for these types of firearms is precisely because the police and military will be using these weapons when they come for the rest of the firearms we own.. We will have a hard time against them. Or so they think. I like my chances. I learned one thing from my time in the service…. Full Auto, in most instances is nothing but a waste of ammo.

  12. What these traitors fail to grasp is by making American patriots felons it won’t even long until some will add murder to those charges and start killing these judges and lawmakers.

    The British wanted Americans to relinquish firearms and they were shot just for asking.
    I feel certain that blood still runs through the veins of some in the great country.

    God bless America!

  13. Alot of corrupt judges got appointed under the Democomms! They know darn well what the Second-Amendment means and they rape it every chance they get! It will not stop until they get everyone in a corner and will fight them! The East coast and West coast is a haven for those gun grabbing idiots,cause they want complete control over everyone.

    1. Bruce, I have been a life long Democrat and I abhor the idea of communism and was very glad to see it fail until the present leader of Russia rose to power. Now in my opinion he is worse than Stalin was. So lets forget the name calling and do some thinking about some comprises that will help heal the rancor that seems to be the norm now on the news each night on TV.

  14. “Not commonly owned” is not a reason to uphold a ban or restriction. Many things are not “commonly” owned because of cost or size or availability, etc. The point about “not commonly owned” because of bans or restrictions already in place is fact and a good point, and if used by courts as good reasoning is nothing but circular reasoning or backwards logic.

  15. The amendment addresse the right of the (normal) individual to own and bear arms Not a mentally or disadvantaged person ,that’s what this is albout (not the guns)

  16. First of all who gives this judge the right to change a definition? Back when the second amendment was designed there was no AR 15 say were no military grade weapons versus civilian weapons, so to state that the military style weapons cannot be owned by the civilian population, I’m not understanding where he is get this information that? My question is where in the Second Amendment does it states that or again are we changing the definition to fulfill an agenda? Why can’t we leave our Second Amendment alone and read it as it is?

  17. I agree with you, I would have one(AR15) if I could afford one. I am on a fixed income and do not have any spare cash to buy one. I am a Navy veteran who has been a gun owner and a shooter all my life.

  18. What good is the Supreme Court if it allows these stupid rulings to stand? They should all be struck down as a blanket ruling.

  19. Re this ruling, the following might be appropriate. Having spoken, this judge has created law where none previously existed. Let him now enforce his decree.

  20. I have the same handgun as the military. Is that next on the list to be banned??
    I use the same bullets as the military. Soon to be banned??
    I wear milsurp underwear and field jackets. Ban these also??
    Thank the Lord I traded in my Jeep, I would be under surveillance the moment I entered the Socialist state of Massachusetts….. Maybe even detained as “looking military” !!!!

  21. If and when they cause a revolution we the people are coming for those traitors who want us disarmed just like the founding fathers did!

  22. The Second Amendment is not about hunting or anything but defending ourselves against a tyrannical government. If the Government is armed with assault rifles then we must be as well.

  23. I’m still waiting for my comment to be moderated. I said nothing inflammatory but had I said something like “GUNS ARE BAD” there would be no moderation.

  24. “In the Federal District Court for the State of Massachusetts, Judge William Young, a Reagan appointee, declared that “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear arms.” It said bare arms. An AR15 IS a way to arm one self arm. You moron.

  25. BILL OF RIGHTS!!….Not the bill of needs!
    Do you “need” a ZR1 Corvette that goes 175mph? Maybe not, but you can own one if you so choose.

  26. All I can say is money is control on this country now. This corrupt judge is obviously been paid off. This country needs to go back to square 1 and start Again! The government has become the very government we fought out of the country! They don’t care…. They get to sign their own checks, give themselves raises and basically do whatever they want with our money. All they try to do is keep us broke and in debt so we can’t rise up against them.

  27. Another black robbed dictator legislating from the bench. Maybe we need a referendum to have the people elect judges rather than politicians appoint them and they need to be term limited.

  28. Militia is a military term and we are to be armed as such being well regulated. Oh well, we could use sharp objects I guess and….oh I forgot even those are now banned in England. Quick, pick up all of the rocks before they are banned and melt all of the cars down as they are used to kill too. Ban all kinds of cord for use in strangling. Let’s see now what is left for the left to ban now?

  29. As a Military Veteran, I have fought for my Constitutional Rights and The Rights of every American Citizen. I’ll be damned if I allow anyone to step on my Rights or anyone else’s. Massachusetts, you have overstepped your Constitutional Authority. What part of “Shall Not Be Infringed” don’t you ignorant nimrods not understand. It’s high time the Patriots in Massachusetts drain the swamp of these Progressive Socialist Parasites that have infested their State Government and their Federal Courts.

  30. If I lived there, I would QUICKLY let the ‘court’ know that I WILL NOT surrender ANY of MY weapons, no matter WHAT new law they may enact!

  31. As long as gun owners keep bending over with your pants down … guess what they’re gonna do – in other words they know everybody’s too scared to FORCEFULLY throw 1 of em off their bench so they do as they please – in other words … IT’S GONNA TAKE VIOLENCE DUMBASSES !!! and until you’re … FINALLY … ready to get physical you can rant n rave all you want but politician is gonna care

  32. I will never give up my arms, including my AR-15’s. I might die fighting for my right, but even at the risk of leaving my boys orphans, if they come and get them, better be ready to meet some resistance. The day my arms are outlawed is the day I become an outlaw. Lord bless and protect our country and defend our ability to defend ourselves against all enemies, whether they wear a badge or not. If you’re in the military or in law enforcement, please do not enforce these unconstitutional laws but instead take a stand for the constitution and its citizens.

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