Monthly Archives: February 2016

Some Reminders

  • First of all, don’t forget to sign up to our contact list to make sure you stay up to date about important dates and events.
  • Make sure you spread the word.  A number of people have contacted us this week to say they had heard nothing about Article 34 until they saw a yard sign.  There are plenty of people in town who don’t yet know what’s going on.
  • As always, let your representatives know where you stand, and
  • Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.

The Folly of Banning “Assault Weapons”

This brief video does a good job of explaining why arbitrarily labeling a class of firearms as “assault weapons” for the purposes of prohibition does not make sense.

Please note, however, that Article 34 is even stricter than the ban referred to in this video.  It would ban firearms that exhibit even one of the superficial characteristics illustrated below.

Upcoming Town Elections

This is just a reminder that elections will be held one week from today, on Tuesday, March 1.  Many town officials will be on the ballot, so it might be a good time to contact them to find out where they stand on Article 34.

Lawn Signs

We have lawn signs available with the design below.  If you live in a well-trafficked location and would like one, just drop us an email!  I saw one on my morning commute today, I’m happy to say.

No on 34

 

How Safe is Lexington?

Pretty safe, apparently (emphasis mine.)

Lexington has been a very safe community for a long time, but how does it stack up to the safety of other communities in the country?

The answer? Pretty high. According to 2016 data published by NeighborhoodScout.com, Lexington was ranked as the 16th-safest city/town in the United States.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder why we as a town would choose to kick the proverbial hornets’ nest by trying to pass a sweeping firearm confiscation measure that would make criminals of many of our law-abiding friends and neighbors.

“Seize and Destroy”

The exact language behind Article 34 is finally available.  You can read it here, and I would encourage everyone to do so.  To me, the most striking part of the text is the following (emphasis mine):

Any weapons or magazines deemed illegal… within the Town of Lexington shall be seized and destroyed by the police of the Town of Lexington

This chilling language and the images it evokes should be of grave concern to every American, regardless of where one stands on the issue of gun rights and gun control.

Make no mistake, this is a confiscation measure, and as such goes well beyond the federal “assault weapons” ban of 1994 as well as the as the ban currently in effect throughout the Commonwealth.

Again, we are not talking about employing such severe tactics against gang members or terrorists, but rather the most law-abiding of Massachusetts residents — the licensed gun owners who have successfully passed some of the strictest scrutiny in the United States as well as the discretion of the Chief of Police.  This language should give even Article 34’s supporters cause for concern.

Remember that we are not talking about machine guns here, or automatic weapons, or indeed rapid-fire arms of any kind, nor are we talking about unusually high-powered firearms.  This measure, once again, relies primarily on the presence of certain cosmetic or ergonomic features to define “assault weapons” (a certain kind of grip here, a certain kind of stock there.)

Why do these bans invariably resort to defining “assault weapon” based on such trivial, cosmetic features that have nothing to do with their lethality?  The answer is simple — these guns are functionally unremarkable.  It is only their appearance which distinguishes them from other perfectly commonplace firearms.  And for that, we are considering turning out law-abiding friends and neighbors into criminals.

So remember those words, “seize and destroy.”  Then remember who the target is — law-abiding gun owners.  Then contact your town meeting members and selectmen, and show up at the town meeting so we can defeat this measure.  We will publish a “date certain” for the relevant meeting as soon as we have it.  Thank you for your support.

Rotberg’s Latest

Robert Rotberg has penned another lengthy post at the Town Meeting forum, trying to rally support for his gun ban, and it’s well worth a read.

First of all, we have no idea where this rumor of Article 34’s demise came from, but it certainly did not originate with us, as Mr. Rotberg implies.  On the contrary, we want as much attention brought to this proposed ban as possible, not that it be ignored.

As for the rest of Mr. Rotberg’s post, it’s difficult to know where to begin.  For now, I will content myself with two observations.

Mr. Rotberg makes much of the fact that the Supreme Court declined to grant cert for the Highland Park ban.  A big reason for this, however, is that there was no disagreement among the Circuit Courts at the time, and therefore no contention for the High Court to resolve.

All of that changed earlier this month, however, as the Fourth Circuit demanded “strict scrutiny” for Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban with rather blistering language (we covered it here and here.)

Similarly, Mr. Rotberg assures us that his proposal “does not offend the Supreme Court’s Miller judgment that prevented the District of Columbia from banning hand-guns.”  I can only assume that Mr. Rotberg is confused or misinformed.  It was the 2008 Heller  decision with ruled on D.C.’s handgun ban, not the 75-year-old Miller,  which was primarily concerned with automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns.

The Heller  case, however, employed a “common use” test, which casts Article 34 in serious doubt.  The AR-15, for example, is far and away the most popular rifle in America.  It has been estimated that there are between 20 and 30 millions AR’s currently in circulation in the U.S. It is difficult to argue that these firearms are not in “common use” for self-defense.

There’s much more that could be said, of course, but I’d like to end on a positive note.  Our conversations with various town officials have been noticeably more encouraging of late.  We are having an impact.  YOU are having an impact!!  Keep up the good work.  Contact your TM members.   Contact the Selectman.  Talk to your neighbors.  As always, please keep it courteous and respectful, and stick to the facts.  We can win this.

More problems with “assault weapons” bans

As a follow-up to our recent post about the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on Marylands ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines, this piece from the Washington Post makes some good points about the dubious legal status of such bans.

Magazines holding more than 10 rounds are “common” and “standard.” There are more than 75 million of them in the United States. Indeed, “most pistols are manufactured with magazines holding ten to 17 rounds.” In fact, “Virtually every federal court to have addressed this question” has found that magazines over 10 rounds are in “common use,” and thus are covered by the Second Amendment.

Maryland had argued that the Second Amendment does not apply to magazines because magazine are not firearms. The Fourth Circuit disagreed because “Maryland’s logic” would “circumvent Heller.” Governments could de facto ban guns “simply by prohibiting possession of individual components of a handgun, such as the firing pin. . . . In our view, ‘the right to possess firearms for protection implies a corresponding right’ to possess component parts necessary to make the firearms operable.”

In the “two step test” created by the 3rd Circuit (U.S. v. Marzzarella, 2010) and adopted by the 4th Circuit (U.S. v. Chester, 2010) and many others, the first step is to determine whether the statute implicates the Second Amendment. In step one, “it is the government’s burden to establish that a particular weapon or activity falls outside the scope of the Second Amendment right.” The Maryland attorney general did not even come close. There was no historical tradition of bans on semiautomatics or magazines. “In fact, the Supreme Court, in a pre-Heller decision, hinted at the opposite, stating that ‘certain categories of guns,’ such as ‘machineguns, sawed-off shotguns, and artillery pieces,’ have a ‘quasi-suspect character,’ but that ‘guns falling outside those categories traditionally have been widely accepted as lawful possessions.’ Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600, 611-12 (1994).” Indeed, the Staples opinion was about the AR-15 rifle, which is among the many firearms banned by the Maryland statute.

Read the whole thing if you get a chance.

Article 34

The proposed gun ban is now officially Article 34 on the town meeting warrant.  If you follow the link, you  will see that the text of the article is a very general and high-level summary.  The precise language of the ban, including all the technical details, will be submitted in the form of a motion prior to the annual town meeting.

While we don’t yet have this language, we have repeatedly been told it will closely follow the Highland Park, IL ban.  Highland Park seems an odd choice for a model, however, given that Massachusetts, unlike Illinois, already has a statewide ban on both “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines.

Yard sign design

Big and Potentially Relevant Legal News!

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that “strict scrutiny” must be applied to Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban, and kicked the case back down to District Court.  Moreover, they held that semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and high-capacity (>10 rounds) magazines are in common use for self-defense, and are not “unusual or dangerous” enough to fall outside of Second Amendment protection!

Additionally, this creates a difference of opinion at the Circuit Court level, as the Second Circuit had previously held that only “intermediate scrutiny” need be applied to AW bans (NYSRPA v. Cuomo.)  This split could very well pave the way for a Supreme Court decision.  (For you lawyerly types, the text of the ruling is here.)