The Democrats’ Unconstitutional Gun Grab

It’s not just Washington: all across the country, the Democratic Party is trying to rob firearm owners of their constitutional rights. Here in Minnesota, the Democrats took control of both houses of the legislature in November, and they have wasted no time launching an attack on the 2nd Amendment. House Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael Paymar–”public safety” apparently doesn’t include self-defense–is

A standard capacity, single-stack magazine

introducing a series of anti-gun proposals, including a ban on scary-looking rifles which, as far as I know, has not yet been reduced to writing, and this bill, H.F. 243, which would ban normal-sized magazines. The bill bans the sale, transfer or possession by private citizens of all magazines with more than a seven-round capacity.

Moreover, the Minnesota bill, unlike Dianne Feinstein’s federal proposal, does not grandfather magazines that are now legally owned. Rather, it require Minnesota gun owners to “(1) remove the large-capacity magazine from the state; or (2) surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction” within 120 days after the statute’s effective date. Anyone who now legally owns normal-capacity magazines–like me, for example–will be subject to five years’ imprisonment if he fails to turn them in to the government.

Under Heller and McDonald, it is settled that Americans have a constitutional right to possess handguns for purposes of self-defense. The overwhelming majority of handguns in the United States are semiautomatics. A semiautomatic handgun is essentially inoperable without a magazine. (I suppose you could put a single bullet in the chamber and use the gun like an old-fashioned derringer, but that would reduce its value for self-defense to close to the vanishing point. [UPDATE: As a commenter points out, even that wouldn't work with the many pistols that have magazine safeties.]) The vast majority of magazines have more than a seven-bullet capacity. There are some small pistols designed for concealed carry with magazines that limited, but any ordinary-sized pistol comes with a magazine that will hold at least ten bullets, and usually more. So a magazine that holds more than seven bullets is not “high capacity,” it is “standard capacity.”

A typical semiauto pistol and magazine

Requiring all standard capacity magazines to be turned in to the government would, at one stroke, disable the large majority of all handguns in Minnesota–guns which citizens have a constitutional right to own and to use. Can such a law possibly be constitutional? Second Amendment jurisprudence is not well developed, but it is hard to see how it could be. If this law were enacted, I expect that it would be met with widespread civil disobedience.

Democrats have majorities in both houses of the Minnesota legislature, so the bill will pass unless some Democrats have the courage to stand up for Minnesotans’ civil rights. And nothing bucks up a legislator’s courage like lots of phone calls. Mitch Berg has posted the names and phone numbers of all members of the Public Safety Committee, but these are the key ones–Democrats that represent gun-owning constituencies:

Representative Paul Rosenthal (DFL) – Vice Chairman: 651-296-7803
E-mail: rep.paul.rosenthal@house.mn

Representative Shannon Savick (DFL): 651-296-8216
E-mail: rep.shannon.savick@house.mn

Representative John Ward (DFL): 651-296-4333
E-mail: rep.john.ward@house.mn

Representative Erik Simonson (DFL): 651-296-4246
E-mail: rep.erik.simonson@house.mn

Please call or email as many of these individuals as you have time for, and ask them politely to respect Minnesotans’ constitutional rights, and also advance the cause of public safety, by voting against H.F. 243.

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