The U.S. Senates consideration of new firearm regulations took a legal turn on Feb. 12, with conflicting testimony about whether the Supreme Courts recent Second Amendment rulings prohibit Congress from adopting measures to reduce gun violence.
My answer to that is an emphatic no, said constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor. He told a Senate subcommittee that the rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010 demolishes the slippery-slope theory of those who oppose basically all firearms regulation on the view that once we permit any new firearms regulation at all, we will be inviting the government … to come ever closer to disarming the people.
Tribe said the rulings took off the table an outright ban of all firearms but left open regulatory tools like those now before the Senate: regulating the sale and transfer of guns; bans on high capacity magazines and weapons outfitted for them; bans on straw purchasers; universal background checks; or federal gun registration.
Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, a longtime National Rifle Association litigator, said the cases protect weapons commonly used for lawful purposes, including those bearing high-capacity magazines.
The amendment is one of the few enumerated constitutional provisions that specifically protects the possession and use of a particular piece of propertyarms, Cooper testified. Standard magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and the firearms outfitted for them, are by any reasonable measure in quite common use.