Judge Larry Alan Burns: A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

Judges are not supposed to make extra-judicial public comments about cases over which they preside. So this op-ed by U.S. District Court Judge Larry Alan Burns who presided over the sentencing of Jared Lee Loughner last month is both highly unusual and extraordinary. Judge Burns makes A conservative case for an assault weapons ban – Los Angeles Times:

A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

If we can't draw a sensible line on guns, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.

Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core.

Loughner deserved his punishment. But during the sentencing, I also
questioned the social utility of high-capacity magazines like the one
that fed his Glock. And I lamented the expiration of the federal assault
weapons ban in 2004, which prohibited the manufacture and importation
of certain particularly deadly guns, as well as magazines that can hold
more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The ban wasn't all that stringent — if you already owned a banned gun
or high-capacity magazine you could keep it, and you could sell it to
someone else — but at least it was something.

And it says something that half of the nation's deadliest shootings occurred after the ban expired, including the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary
in Newtown, Conn. It also says something that it has not even been two
years since Loughner's rampage, and already six mass shootings have been
deadlier.

I am not a social scientist, and I know that very smart ones are
divided on what to do about gun violence. But reasonable, good-faith
debates have boundaries, and in the debate about guns, a high-capacity
magazine has always seemed to me beyond them.

Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another. Adam Lanza,
the Newtown shooter, chose as his primary weapon a semiautomatic rifle
with 30-round magazines. And we don't even bother to call the
100-rounder that James Holmes
is accused of emptying in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater a magazine —
it is a drum. How is this not an argument for regulating the number of
rounds a gun can fire?

I get it. Someone bent on mass murder who has only a 10-round
magazine or revolvers at his disposal probably is not going to abandon
his plan and instead try to talk his problems out. But we might be able
to take the "mass" out of "mass shooting," or at least make the
perpetrator's job a bit harder.

To guarantee that there would never be another Tucson or Sandy Hook,
we would probably have to make it a capital offense to so much as look
at a gun. And that would create serious 2nd Amendment, 8th Amendment and
logistical problems.

So what's the alternative? Bring back the assault weapons ban, and
bring it back with some teeth this time. Ban the manufacture,
importation, sale, transfer and possession of both assault weapons and
high-capacity magazines. Don't let people who already have them keep
them. Don't let ones that have already been manufactured stay on the
market. I don't care whether it's called gun control or a gun ban. I'm
for it.

I say all of this as a gun owner. I say it as a conservative who was
appointed to the federal bench by a Republican president. I say it as
someone who prefers Fox News to MSNBC,
and National Review Online to the Daily Kos. I say it as someone who
thinks the Supreme Court got it right in District of Columbia vs.
Heller
, when it held that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to
possess guns for self-defense. (That's why I have mine.) I say it as
someone who, generally speaking, is not a big fan of the regulatory
state.

I even say it as someone whose feelings about the NRA mirror the left's feelings about Planned Parenthood: It has a useful advocacy function in our deliberative democracy, and much of what it does should not be controversial at all.

And I say it, finally, mindful of the arguments on the other side, at
least as I understand them: that a high-capacity magazine is not that
different from multiple smaller-capacity magazines; and that if we ban
assault weapons and high-capacity magazines one day, there's a danger we
would ban guns altogether the next, and your life might depend on you
having one.

But if we can't find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that
balance individual rights and the public interest, we may as well call
the American experiment in democracy a failure.

There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and
high-capacity magazines.
Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison
chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for
his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took
out Osama bin Laden.

It speaks horribly of the public discourse in this country that
talking about gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting is regarded as
inappropriate or as politicizing the tragedy. But such a conversation is
political only to those who are ideologically predisposed to see
regulation of any kind as the creep of tyranny. And it is inappropriate
only to those delusional enough to believe it would disrespect the
victims of gun violence to do anything other than sit around and mourn
their passing. Mourning is important, but so is decisive action.

Congress must reinstate and toughen the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

0 responses to “Judge Larry Alan Burns: A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

  1. All rights have limitations.

  2. The judge is an idiot. He doesn’t see that what he is suggesting is an infringement on our right to keep and bear arms.

    “I don’t care whether it’s called gun control or a gun ban. I’m for it.”

    Repeal the 2nd Amendment first, then you and your statist, totalitarian cronies can work on implementing that wet dream.

  3. One of the most civil and reasonable opinions I’ve read on the issue, although, there are a few issues that haven’t been dealt with: First, one of the reasons that some/many people feel they need assault rifles (whatever that means) and high-capacity magazines (whatever that means) is the police have them and thus there would be no way to take down the government if it got totally out of hand.

    Second, if assault rifles and high-capacity magazines that people already have are not being allowed to be kept, how will this be enforced and paid for and will the enforcing pay the current market price plus 10% for as did Australia when it picked up 650,000 guns?

    Third, how are we going to get enough people to not only create the law and pay for the law, but actually enforce it hit in small towns such as I live in where there are quite a few laws that are totally disregarded as it’s basically impossible to enforce them.

    This is not to say something along similar lines is needed, just that there some problems making it hit the ground.