Second Amendment

Machine guns aren't protected by Second Amendment, 5th Circuit rules

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A federal appeals court has upheld a federal law that generally bars the possession of machine guns.

Machine guns are not protected by the Second Amendment, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) on June 30.

The plaintiff wanted to build an M-16 machine gun from components of the AR-15. The M-16, which is used in the U.S. military, is defined as a machine gun because it fires more than one round per trigger action, the appeals court explained in a footnote. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon that fires only one round per trigger action.

The 5th Circuit based its decision on a reading of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court decision that found the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun.

Heller distinguished between guns used in the military and those possessed at home for self-defense, the appeals court said. Only the second category has Second Amendment protection, though it may sometimes overlap with the first, the appeals court found.

“The Second Amendment does not create a right to possess a weapon solely because a weapon may be used in or is useful for militia or military service,” the appeals court said.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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