District Court Judge Catherine Blake said military style rifles are unusual and unusually dangerous. That wasn’t an easy decision to reach. Judge Blake concluded the government needs guns for its protection, but you don’t. It is her conclusion that doesn’t make sense. Maybe we shouldn’t expect much acuity from her given that she was appointed by President Clinton.
Judge Blake said the government may deny civilians the right to own a firearm because the firearm is too dangerous. Set aside the historical fact that magazine fed semi-automatic rifles were designed over a hundred years ago. Look at them today. Modern military rifles are designed to be easy to carry, easy to operate, and adaptable to fit a soldier of any size. Those features make modern rifles popular with civilians as well. Again, set that fact aside.
Understand that these are the same firearms widely used by law enforcement organizations every day. The government calls them “self-defense” or “personal-defense” weapons. The judge said is illegal for civilians to own a particular firearm but legal for a government employee to carry that same firearm for the exact same purpose of self-defense.
The judge can not claim that legal gun owners are violent. Gun owners with their concealed carry licenses are more law abiding than law enforcement officers. These civilians have fewer firearms violations than law enforcement officers. Civilians are less likely to shoot innocent or unintended victims than law enforcement. Those facts show that civilian gun owners are not a threat to society. Judge Blake chose to ignore those facts. I can’t.
Criminals are a threat, and criminals prey on ordinary citizens. While each policeman sees many criminals, each criminal will victimize many citizens before he meets a law enforcement officer. Citizens are at the cutting edge of crime while law enforcement officers are at the cutting edge of evidence collection. Whatever needs the police have for self-defense, citizens have a greater need. Judge Blake chose to ignore that. It is hard to set aside the judge’s biases.
Despite these facts, Judge Blake said the state’s alleged concern for public safety justified disarming civilians. At the same time, law enforcement says they need these modern rifles for police officers, sheriff’s deputies and for the highway patrol.
The State Department of Fish and Game needs modern rifles too. Maybe they are imitating the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management who say they need modern rifles. Don’t forget the Environmental Protection Agency either. The Post Office, the Department of Education, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, and the Railroad Retirement Board all say they need modern rifles. Civilians with a badge need these firearms, but civilians without a badge may not have them.
Judge Blake said these modern rifles are extremely lethal and only used for lethal assault. According to the judge, every law enforcement officer who carries his patrol rifle intends to engage in a deadly assault and kill civilians. Somehow it is legally permissible for civilians with a badge to have these lethal firearms but not permissible for you to have them because you don’t have a badge. The judge is wrong and the facts show it.
Let us ignore the facts and talk politics. It makes sense that the government always wants more power. It makes sense that a power-hungry government wants its citizens disarmed. The judge’s argument is a political rationalization.
This power grab is not unusual, but it is dangerous. This power grab cannot be ignored or excused.