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Letter: Court makes the law

This is regarding the letter to the editor “Getting facts straight” in a recent edition of your paper (The Aspen Times, June 22).

Here is a serious question: If I buy a street version of an H1 Hummer, is it accurate to say I have a “military” vehicle? No. The military Humvee is an almost totally different vehicle with different capabilities.

So why is it accurate to call a semi-automatic rifle “military” because it physically resembles an M16? The M16 fires a different caliber of round and can be fired in automatic mode, which the civilian semiautomatic rifle cannot.

Here is another question: The 9 mm semiautomatic pistol carried by a military officer is exactly the same as the 9 mm semiautomatic pistol that millions of Americans have for personal defense. Because these are the same in appearance and features, would it be constitutional to ban civilian possession just because the military uses the same weapon? How about a Bowie knife identical to the ones used by members of the armed forces?

Some corrections to the letter.

1. People who know firearms never refer to a semiautomatic weapon as an automatic weapon. The ability to keep firing rounds with a single trigger pull (automatic) is so fundamentally different a function from the function of requiring a separate trigger pull for each round (semi-automatic) as not to be ignored by anyone who knows firearms. Automatic weapons are illegal in this country.

2. One can read all the law-review articles one wants (the letter’s author cites one that disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decisions on firearms ownership). They don’t tell us what the law is. That is determined by a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. That majority told us in Heller that the Second Amendment grants a right to individuals to “keep and bear arms.” It explained the precatory language relating to a “well-regulated militia” as referring to a “well-trained militia,” relying on usages of “regulated” at the time the amendment was drafted. Think about military “regulars,” which means “trained.” You don’t have to like it, but the majority of the Supreme Court overrules law-review articles.

Maurice Emmer

Aspen


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