Wednesday, September 15, 2004

On Monday, the assault weapons ban expired touching off a new round of debates over the limitation of firearms.

The interesting thing about this debate is the fact that the Second Amendment of US constitution has not been incorporated to apply to state action. This means that the second amendment does not apply to state action and the only limitation on state legislation regarding firearms is their own constitution and the state judicial opinions interpreting it. In essence, if a state has interpreted their constitution to mean that individuals do not have a fundamental right to bear arms, or that the state has a compelling interest in limiting firearms, then they can place strict limitations on gun ownership. That being said, why was the Assault weapons ban needed? If a state can take more draconian measures in limiting firearms than can the Federal government, why must the Federal government, constrained by the second Amendment, get involved in limiting these weapons?

There is also another aspect to this debate. In order for states to carry out the provision of the Federal AWB, the Federal Government must provide funding to do so. If not, its consider an un-funded mandate and not enforceable. This leaves the AWB in the realm of federal enforcement, not the state. In essence, it makes a new federal crime the owning, sale or transportation of these weapons. The question remains, why does this need to be a federal crime? I do not have the answer, but the net effect of the AWB lapsing will have a negligible effect on law enforcement since state still have the ability to limit the same weapons that were banned by the AWB.