Third Circuit Attacks Right to Keep & Bear Arms, Upholds NJ Ban on 'Large' Magazines

P. Gardner Goldsmith | December 9, 2018
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Like a music countdown for tyrants, the hits against the right to keep and bear arms keep coming, harder, and harder, and harder.

We recently reported on two instances where courts and politicians were attacking the right that’s supposedly protected by the Second Amendment. In one case, a NY State senator is eager to force citizens to give police their online search histories, social media accounts, and passwords if they want to get permission from the almighty state to own a gun. In the other, a panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of a patently unconstitutional Massachusetts law that allows municipalities to deny “gun licenses” for nearly infinite reasons.

Now, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is taking its turn to slice up the Bill of Rights and stab the right to keep and bear arms like a sacrificial lamb.

As Tom Knighton reports for BearingArms, in a two-to-one decision on Dec. 5, the Third Circuit ruled in favor of an upcoming New Jersey mandate that people turn in magazines that can hold 10 or more rounds, and that sales of such magazines will be illegal.

The case was called “New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs v. Attorney General of New Jersey, et al”, and saw a group of gun clubs sue the state, the Superintendent of NJ State Police, and the Police Chiefs of Chester and Lyndhurst to block the state’s December 10 deadline for all residents who own magazines capable of containing more than ten rounds to hand in to the government said round-holders, or “modify” them to no longer hold more than 10.

The majority, in an opinion by Judge Shwartz and joined by Judge Greenaway, both appointed by President Obama, held that the ban did not violate the Second Amendment because it reasonably advanced the State’s interest in reducing mass shootings without severely burdening the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Isn’t that sweet?

As I noted in a recent video, by definition, a right is supposed to be impervious to any state burden, whether someone from the state deems that burden “severe” or “not severe.” It’s a simple equation. Rights = NO government interference. That’s the point about rights. The agents of the state – including elitist judges – are not supposed to touch them. Otherwise, they’re privileges conferred by the state, not preexisting the state and inherent to each human being.

Here’s a bit of what the two justices offered in deciding that the right to keep and bear arms wasn’t really a right, because, of course, they could decide anything they darn well pleased about it. As some conservatives and libertarians warned upon reading the 2007 “DC v. Heller” decision, just as the First Circuit Court did in November when ruling on the MA gun restrictions, the Third Circuit majority referred to “Heller” to support the idea that, indeed, the government can attenuate a right:

This plain language from Heller makes clear that the Second Amendment, like all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, is not limitless…

Actually, that’s why it’s in the Constitution, to try to make doubly sure arrogant agents of the state like judges, legislators, and executive branch officers don’t infringe on it. The wording is clear, the principle is plain.

But these judges claim the power, paid-for by taxes, to arrogantly say that these upside-down dictates are valid and in no way oppositional to the actual wording of the Bill of Rights. Incredible.

And what is the overriding reason for stabbing the right to keep and bear arms on the altar of the state?

The judges think the NJ Large Capacity Magazine (LCM) ban will stop mass shootings, that the statute will allow people to “flee.”

Not only will the LCM ban reduce the number of shots fired and the resulting harm, it will present opportunities for victims to flee and bystanders to intervene.

Isn’t that a wonderful bit of fantasy?

First, history has demonstrated over and over that prohibition does not work. Characters intent on killing a lot of innocent people will not care what a statute says about how many rounds they can hold in their magazines. They will get the magazines by breaking the law, because they intend on breaking the law in an even greater way – by shooting people.

Second, if one follows the logic of these self-righteous judicial overlords, one can ask them why it also wouldn’t be permissible for the state to simply make it illegal for a citizen to own a gun that fired more than once a minute, or once an hour. What is the limit? What interlude makes everyone the safest in their fantasyland of statutes that will magically stop criminals from shooting people who are far outgunned?

Of course, the arrogant calculations shouldn’t be part of it. The principle is the key.

But the legislature of New Jersey and the Third Circuit judges don’t see citizens as protected by principles. They see citizens as creatures of a lower order. In fact, the NJ law allows off-duty and retired cops, and retired military, to possess LCMs. Why? As the Third Circuit observe in the ruling, they’re special. You could never be like them and train with a firearm. A human can only do so if he or she works, or worked, for, the government, you silly troglodyte.

And the judges don’t see the demand to change the magazines or turn them in as an unconstitutional taking, either, even though, well, yeah, if you don’t change your own property, you will have to turn it in.

So, remember, even though possession of something is not a violent act, even though citizens engage in defensive uses of firearms 3.6 times more often than they use firearms to commit crimes, even though the New Jersey statute is actually a threat by the state backed up by its own armed officers to enforce it, it’s seen by the two majority judges of the Third Circuit as being perfectly fine to pass a statute like this.

Only agents of the state, or former agents of the state, will be allowed to have that firepower, even though police usually arrive after a criminal event, and, as I mentioned previously, courts have already ruled that the government has absolutely no obligation to protect anyone.

It’s a dark, dark fantasy, and the hits just keep coming.

But these are blows against a fundamental human right, backed by the force and arrogance of the state.

The danger grows. The courts are hunting grounds.

Your rights are in the sights.