Last week, in Miller v. Bonta, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez struck down California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” such as the ubiquitous AR-15, as a violation of the right of individuals to keep and bear arms for the militia purposes of defense against tyranny, insurrection, and invasion, as well as for self-defense against the more common variety of criminals.
Understanding that the Second Amendment was not adopted to protect hobbies and recreation, Judge Benitez implicitly rejected the notion, suggested by some, that AR-15s — semi-automatic variants of the automatic M16s used by the armed forces — are merely “modern sporting rifles,” instead concluding:
[T]he popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle … Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment protects any law-abiding citizen’s right … to be armed to defend himself, his family, and his home. At the same time, the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms to use should the militia be needed to fight against invaders, terrorists, and tyrants.
The evidence is clear … that the AR-15 … bears a reasonable relationship to the preservation and efficiency, as well as the effectiveness, of a modern well-regulated militia. It is therefore categorically protected by the Second Amendment.
[T]he evidence overwhelmingly shows that AR-15 platform rifles are ideal for use in both the citizens’ militia and a state-organized militia. Quite apart from its practicality as a peacekeeping arm for home-defense, [it] can also be useful for war. In fact, it is an ideal firearm for militia service … It is therefore categorically protected by the Second Amendment.
Although the Supreme Court pretended otherwise in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), defense against tyranny, not merely against criminals, is the primary reason the keeping and bearing of arms is expressly protected within the Bill of Rights. For example, in “That Every Man Be Armed,” constitutional scholar Stephen P. Halbrook noted:
Ten days after the Bill of Rights was proposed in the House (of Representatives),
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