How Does Senator Feinstein Suggest We Use Semi-Auto Rifles?
If you’ve been hiking in the wilderness for the last week, you might have an excuse for missing all the fireworks and hullabaloo going on during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee. With that one exception, you have no excuse for missing out on this spectacle of American politics – or, at least, you should be catching up on a summary of the hearings at the end of the day.
Senator Feinstein, who famously said she would support forcing Americans to turn in lawfully owned firearms, had a bone to pick with Kavanaugh over his interpretation of D.C. v. Heller (2008) in the similarly named sequel, D.C. v. Heller (2011), which, disappointingly, conventions of legal writing do not allow us to call D.C. v. Heller 2: The Rematch.
In short, while the first Heller forced DC to allow handguns, the second Heller, decided at the circuit court level, did not overturn DC’s ban on semi-auto rifles. Judge Kavanaugh disagreed with this decision, and in his dissent, he pointed out that semi-auto rifles are in common use, as there are millions which are lawfully owned in the United States. He also, rightly, pointed out that handguns are used in more crime than rifles.
“There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote in 2011. “Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semi-automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are.”
Feinstein, faced with these simple and incontrovertible facts, tried a new tactic during the hearing: that possession does not equal use.
“Common use is an activity,” she spluttered during the hearing. “It is not common storage or possession. It is use. So what you said was that these weapons are commonly used. They are not.”
Setting aside for a moment that Judge Kavanaugh rightly pointed out in his dissent that semi-auto rifles are used for hunting – we could debate whether simple possession of a rifle for home defense constitutes use – this begs the obvious question: how does Senator Feinstein want us to demonstrate use of a rifle?
If we must use them to demonstrate their suitability for lawful ownership, what does she want us to do with them? Target shooting, hunting, competition, and training on the part of law enforcement and military members on their own time apparently does not constitute use, so what does?
What should we do with our rifles? I am honestly at a loss. We already use semi-auto rifles for nearly every type of shooting imaginable, apart from things like waterfowl hunting and the biathlon. I like to think of myself as a creative person, and yet I cannot think of a single additional purpose gun owners could be using semi-auto rifles for that would suddenly, magically, break the barrier between non-use and use which Senator Feinstein has erected for us.
Please, Senator Feinstein, I await your instructions.
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