Colorado Case Has a Devastating Pro-High Capacity Magazine Argument
Pro-Second Amendment attorneys in Colorado look like they have an extremely strong case for overturning that state’s high-capacity magazine ban. The Colorado legislature banned the in-state sale of 16-round or higher magazines in 2013.
A major challenge to the unconstitutional law has finally made its way to the state’s Supreme Court, in Sternberg v. Colorado. The argument opposing the law is a good one, and if it prevails, hopefully a lot of pro-gun attorneys will be able to repeat the results in other states.
Washington, DC and eight other states have pretty solid magazine bans in place currently. California’s magazine ban is in a weird on-again, off-again status as it works its way through the courts (currently on-again).
Oregon is considering a ban on all magazines that hold more than 5 rounds. This is so ridiculous and has enraged Oregon voters so much that the Trump campaign thinks the state might be in play in 2020, rather than being an automatic “blue” win for the eventual Democrat nominee.
Despite banning high-capacity magazines for the explicit (lying) goal of reducing mass shootings, Colorado has had five mass shootings since the ban went into effect. Imagine that! Colorado has a strong right-to-bear-arms provision in its state constitution, so the case challenging the ban looks promising.
Proponents are arguing that high-capacity firearms actually predate Colorado’s statehood in 1876, and therefore the framers of the state constitution knew full well about firearms that hold plenty of bullets. The Democrat-controlled legislature argued when it passed the magazine ban that the framers of the state constitution couldn’t possibly have imagined “rapid fire repeating rifles.” Those would have been like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon space lasers to them!
Except that argument was totally false, as the attorneys challenging Colorado’s ban are arguing. Henry repeating rifles – the 16-round, .44 caliber rifle that “won the West” – went into production in 1860, a full 16 years before Colorado statehood.
There is no way that Colorado’s framers would have intended for Coloradans to run around with muskets while the government, bandits, militant 19th-century Mormons and Indians were running around with Henry repeating rifles.
That’s a pretty solid state-level argument. But as we’ve noted previously, the framers of the US Constitution were also aware of – and even owned – firearms that would be considered “assault” weapons by today’s anti-gun left. And those firearms were not little sissy squirrel guns like the AR-15s that Democrats find so scary today.
Thomas Jefferson owned multiple Italian-made Girardoni air rifles – an “assault” weapon created in the Holy Roman Empire in 1779. The Germans called it the Windbüchse, or “Wind rifle.” These things were awesome. They were a tube-fed, .46 caliber rifle. The tube held up to 22 rounds that could be fired in 60 seconds. Austrian riflemen carried four additional tubes with each rifle, for a total of more than 100 rounds.
A detachable air pump could allow enough air to fire 30 shots before needing more air. With a low muzzle report (silencer!) and no smoke from gunpowder, it was an attractive rifle that had an effective kill range of 150 yards. Not a bad option, especially if the other guy is carrying a single-shot smooth-bore musket that would send the ball spinning in a random direction every time you fired it.
Jefferson gave some of these dangerous assault weapons to the Lewis and Clark expedition, which they demonstrated to every Native American tribe they encountered on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
The Girardoni was the general service rifle of the Austrian army until 1815. Sadly, they went out of production because manufacturing capacity at the time was too limited for the makers to stay in business.
The point is, high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire firearms are not some newfangled “weapon of war” that just fell off the turnip truck a few weeks ago. The framers of the US Constitution owned weapons with high-capacity magazines and used them. If they had wanted to exclude them under the Second Amendment, because they were too “dangerous” for the general population to own, they could have done so.
In every state constitution that was written after America’s founding, the writers knew about these weapons. None of them banned these types of firearms.
Here’s hoping that the Colorado arguments hold up before the state’s Supreme Court. In the meantime, the rest of us need to do a better job of educating the public on the fact that there is nothing spooky or “new” about this 18th-century technology that the gun-grabbers want to ban.