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Old December 30, 2012, 12:40 PM   #1
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First amendment protections for the use of firearms

In a recent discussion with some folks I found it necessary to defend my ownership of an AR-15, and my enjoyment of shooting the rifle with 20 and 30 round magazines. It was a friendly debate, but they were focused on "what purpose could a 30 round magazine have?", and my arguments for the recreational aspects of competitive and non-competitive shooting were unconvincing. The discussion turned to "what purpose does competitive shooting (such as 3-gun matches and IPSC) serve?"... I was not at my best, and I don't think I made a very good case.

But the discussion led to further thought on my part. Why do I enjoy shooting my AR-15? I am quite interested in owning an M-1 Garand... Why? A 1903 Springfield and a Mauser K-98 is on my list of guns I would like to someday own... Why? I remember shooting an FN-FAL some years ago, and I really enjoyed it. Why?

For me, the answer to "why" is this... I enjoy shooting the implements of war that have served our nation in the past. I enjoy studying the weapon and the tactics it led to. It enables me to relive and connect with the past in a very concrete way.

I believe that shooting my AR-15 (and any other military arm I might own in the future) is protected under the first amendment as a freedom of expression. It is the embodiment of the Declarations "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". It is no different than musicians playing on a street corner, or Civil War re-enactments, or sporting events.

The first amendment has been found to protect some pretty unpopular speech and activities over the years (Nazi marches, flag burning, etc). So it does not matter if many, or even most, Americans don't understand or approve.

If the act of shooting an AR-15 is protected under the 1st, how far can the government go in restricting my access to equipment necessary to exercise my freedom of expression?
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Old December 31, 2012, 01:44 PM   #2
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What you miss is the real reason for the 2A.

There is a reason the Switzerland has never been invaded by a foreign Army in modern times. There is a reason that the Mainland of the US has never been invaded in modern times, what to guess why?

There are two purposes to the 2A that were stated much clearer by the WA state constitution 1/24. The inportant parts are the word "individual" "defense of himself, and the state"

The 2A serves another purpose...that is it keeps our own government in check. It is not possible to have a tyrannical government when the general population is equally well armed.
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Old December 31, 2012, 02:30 PM   #3
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The first post clearly answered most of your questions.

If the act of shooting an AR-15 is protected under the 1st,
I don't know of any case that has been brought under first amendment rights. I don't imagine one ever will be.

how far can the government go in restricting my access to equipment necessary to exercise my freedom of expression?
Quite a ways if you are a proven threat or a criminal. Child molesters and computer hackers are not allowed access to the internet and have other restrictions based upon them for one example. This is the same argument that is used to keep felons from buying guns, it is just not targeted in this way and is more a general prohibition.
Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.
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Old January 1, 2013, 12:44 AM   #4
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I understand the purpose of the 2nd, and I don't think I made my point clearly in the first posting. Sorry for the confusion.

In the Heller decision, SCOTUS clearly said that the 2nd amendment RKBA is an individual right. But Scalia writing for the majority said (in essence) that some restrictions would be permissible. I just don't believe that the Court, with the current makeup, would find a ban on 30 round AR-15 / AK-47 magazines to be unconstitutional. The conventional wisdom says that if we are going to keep our 20 and 30 round mags, it will have to be a political fight and a public opinion fight, not a legal fight.

But what if my right of personal expression requires me to shoot an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine? What if by shooting (not just possessing) an AR-15 and an M1 Garand, I express my connection with my nation’s history? What if shooting is a political statement? What if limiting me to a 10 round magazine prevents me from shooting as an act personal artistic freedom and political speech? This is a freedom of expression that has long been permitted, and is frequently exercised by millions of people, and now it is threatened by a new law.

The courts have been taken a harsh view on restrictions of political speech, and have struck down rules against flag burning. As another example, Public nudity laws don't apply during a Gay Pride march. There is a huge amount of case law surrounding the 1st amendment. Surely there is something in there that can be used?

So that is my question for the legal guys here... Could shooting at a range or on private property, as an act of personal expression or political speech, be protected under the 1st amendment? and if so, could a complete ban on 30 round magazines be challenged on that ground?
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