$200.00 in 1935 is not the same as $200.00
You're absolutely right. 1934-35 was the height (depth?) of the Great Depression, and $200 was a small fortune for the average American. FDR needed money to finance the New Deal, and he figured that anyone who could afford a machine gun could afford to fork over $200. Everyone else would just be out of luck.
So, how do we repeal the Hughes amendment? It will take time, it won't be easy, and we'll have to be very, very delicate the whole way.
We have certain milestones we have to reach before we get there:
- We have to get the courts to apply strict scrutiny to regulations of the 2nd Amendment. De facto bans like the current scheme in DC should not be in effect.
- We have to give incorporation real teeth. It should be as easy to own a gun in Chicago as it is in Tampa.
- Once the most restrictive regulations are out of the way, we go after the less stringent infringements.
- We have to make sure certain classes of weapons, such as "assault rifles" and high-capacity magazines, are accepted as being "in common use" and therefore protected.
- We have to change the hearts and minds of the average citizen. This involves overcoming the horrible image that the very term "machine gun" conjures for many. Like it or not, the very phrase is still ripe rhetorical fodder for anti-gun spokespeople for the involuntary flinch it invokes in lawmakers.
- We need a precedent in which the courts agree that civilians are entitled to the same weapons at home as the ones we use to protect our freedoms abroad.
I figure we're at least four national election cycles out from even considering a serious challenge.