Court’s Denial in Machine Gun Case Ignores Second Amendment Purpose

By David Codrea

AR Militia
Sorry, Patriots— Federal judges say the Second Amendment only “protects the right of law-abiding citizens to possess non-dangerous weapons for self-defense in the home.”

USA – -( A panel for the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling and sided with the government against a man who was authorized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to manufacture a post-1986 machine gun through a trust, only to have the permission rescinded and his property confiscated. In doing so, and by ignoring founding intent behind the Second Amendment, the panel ruled the right of Americans to own militia-suitable firearms can not only be infringed, but that it’s not even a right.

The case pits the Ryan S. Watson “Individually and as Trustee of the Watson Family Gun Trust” against the Department of Justice.  This column reported on the appeal filing in December, noting Watson’s claim against the Attorney General and the acting director for ATF is being represented by attorneys Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh, with fundraising coordinated through the Heller Foundation.

The basis for attempting such a build after the ban on ban on civilian ownership of machine guns manufactured after 1986.was precipitated by ATF’s documented contention “the term ‘person’ in the [Gun Control Act of 1968] does not include an unincorporated trust [and] such a trust is not subject to the prohibition.” “Watson was given permission by [ATF] to make a machine gun by approving his ATF Form 5320.1 (‘Form 1’). Watson subsequently made the authorized machine gun,” the appeal brief explains. “BATFE later revoked the approved Form 1 and mandated that Watson surrender the machine gun, which he did under protest.”

The panel opinion provides a glimpse of the tortured legal reasoning an agenda- motivated court must go through to deny both the function of the militia as well as the clear proscription that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

“We reiterated that ‘[a]t its core, the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to possess non-dangerous weapons for self-defense in the home,’ and thus, under Heller, ‘restrictions on the possession of dangerous and unusual weapons are not constitutionally suspect because these weapons are outside the ambit of the amendment,’” the opinion states. “[G]overnments may restrict the possession of machine guns.”

If we’re to believe these elite vetted and confirmed top legal scholars, the Founders conceived of a militia system where members would take to the field — to engage professional soldiers equipped with military weaponry “in common use at the time” — bearing “non-dangerous weapons for self-defense in the home.”

“The Third Circuit’s opinion in Watson v Lynch made several errors,” Stamboulieh and Beck told AmmoLand in a joint statement. “First, it failed to look at the historical analysis we provided regarding what the phrase ‘dangerous and unusual’ actually means.

“[T]he Court was able to uphold the Hughes Amendment via a circular logic; arguing that the ban is constitutional because machine guns fall within a category invented by the court,” Beck and Stamboulieh explained. “In doing so, the Court could simply ignore the arguments we presented to it. We plan on seeking rehearing by the entire Third Circuit Court in the near future.”

Additionally, the attorneys filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court for Hollis v Lynch, a case out of Texas that also involves an approved Form 1 machine gun on a trust after which ATF revoked the issued tax stamp, something they have no statutory authority to do. A quick distinction between the two cases is that in Hollis, ATF approved the Form 1, but he did not build a machine gun.

David Codrea in his natural habitat.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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shimmer rouge

It had the same problem as Godfather They are both good movies in their own rights, but compared to Alien/Aliens and Godfather 1/2? That’s like comapring a 70% movie to two 95%+


Like when you need to edit the pimple off your butt before you post your chocolate starfish to gonewild

james Haury

You have to ask yourself why they (the government)want a defenseless people? WE THE PEOPLE are supposed to be in charge. Elected officials are our servants.Instead they want us to be their servants. 2nd amendment to the U.S Constitution. –A well regulated militia being essential to the security of a free state the rights of the people to KEEP and BEAR arms shall not be infringed. —-I don’t think this could be any clearer. Read plainly this amendment states you should be able to keep and carry whatever you want. Self defense is GOD given right.

Gary Roth

It’s about time someone acted with some sense. Thank you, Third Circuit. As to the rest of you, you’re idiots and jackasses. Go shoot one another, and leave the rest of us alone.

Mike Mcallister

Gary Roth, when they take everyone’s gun’s and they come for you for speaking your mind, think back on your statement. The only jackass I see is you and your liberal stupid ideas!!!!


How about we leave you alone while letting some of the savage third world terrorist immigrants move into your neighborhood and house? I am sure you support the obama immigration policies, and I am sure you aren’t a hypocrite when it comes to owning guns while wanting them banned, so what could possibly go wrong? Enjoy the vibrant diversity and cultural enrichment that europe is currently experiencing!


This isn’t by chance, this “legal system” that has been contorted by the “system” into machinery to produce non thinking(historical) lap dogs (Judges), which in turn the system uses to gobble up what little rights are left that haven’t been infringed on already. Income taxes, your right to “own” property.One does not own something for which he is continually taxed on at a rate that the system is allowed to set(started at less than 1% and has increased with no end in site. Don’t pay and the system will evict you(renter) with rules they keep tightening up. Anyway I for… Read more »


Hmmmmmm…… Buy more rope and zip ties.

Mike McAllister

Another reason for judges to have to face the people the say they serve and either get reelected or get booted out in the street. This must go for all judges even the Supreme Court. Forced to run on their record will force them to stop writing law from the bench and rule on the law!


Let’s face it folks,,,the 2nd Amendment means what the people that have the guns, and are willing to use them, says it means. Power comes from the end of a gun, not laws. Laws are made by people that are trying to control other people and stay in power.

peewee henson

you know, these leftist , bought and paid for chumps, ooops, i mean judges keep doing what their doing pretty soon there won’t be armed citizens to willing to come to their aid. Cops will be too busy protecting their own. And our military will be too busy waiting for our congress to make a vote to fight back and repel invaders. LIBERAL IDEOLOGY WILL ALLOW AMERICA TO BECOME A LAND RIPE FOR THE TAKING AND POPULATED BY SHEEP. THINK I’M FULL OF SH*T? COMPARE HITLER’S CONQUEST ACROSS EUROPE WITH THAT OF ISIS. DURING WWII IT WAS CIVILIAN FORCES THAT… Read more »

Mike Murray

Is anyone surprised?


These ‘judges’ are not ‘mistaken’ in their ruling, they are flat out LIARS and they know it.


It is a good thing that our Founders got together to make sure our sacred collective right to hunt was never infringed upon!


yes. Tis true! But we are throwing that out the windows as fast as the courts are making us throw it! How long will the American people allow themselves to be trampled by a select few?? That is yet to be seen, but fast approaching. Our forefathers gave up much to grant us this authority but we are letting the government take that same authority at will. It seems the forefathers gave their all for a bunch of cowards. This is the exact reason they did what they did, to prevent what is happening before your eyes, in hopes that… Read more »


We the People have the final word on the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and we understand the words “shall not be infringed”. The judges work for us therefore they cannot tell us what to do.

Wild Bill

Well, ACher, the judges don’t really work for us. If they did, we could fire them. You have your fingers on the pulse, though! The American people need the power and authority to recall, by vote, judges, senators, and congressmen. The American people also need term limits on judges, senators and representatives, just as there is a term limit on the presidency. Then those former judges, senators and representatives must go back and live among the people, earn as the people do, and live as the American people live. No more ill gotten fortunes, no more fancy retirements and special… Read more »


If we had our finger on the pulse of the matter we could just squeeze.

Wild Bill

We could squeeze effectively if we had term limits and the power to recall judges, senators, and congressional representatives.

Mark Lee

WTF is a “non-dangerous firearm”? What’s the purpose of a firearm if it isn’t dangerous or deadly?

Gulf Coast Matt

Sheesh, now at his time I will never buy a gun , magazine, or ammunition in Connecticut . The state will capture your name and hold it for 25 years, though I think forever. Now, me and many like me will be leaving for freeer places.


Why don’t several million gun owners just choose to convert their weapons to a select fire variant and then ask them what they are prepared to do…..answer: absolutely nothing ! Because the couldn’t do it. They have neither the will nor the stomach for such . Politicians are cowards by their very nature . I say ignore the bastards and do what you want …….oh wait! I forgot that would require all the blowhards in blog land to give up NFL football and cold beer ……..ain’t never gonna happen. Nice dream though wasn’t it !

The only reasons machine guns are “unusual” is that they are effectively banned (call it a $10,000 tax on a $1000 imposed by the law of constrained supply). They are functionally identical to the most popular rifles in the land (AR-15) except for they do not have the artificial limitation of semi-auto fire only. If not for the defacto ban, then those millions of popular rifles would virtually ALL be select fire.

Woody W Woodward

Just what in hell is a “non-dangerous” weapon? If we are relegated by the court to possess only “non-dangerous” weapons for use in self defense or defense of home and family, we are totally screwed.

Wild Bill

It is just double talk, Woody, meant to deceive the foolish.


A government approved non effective weapon, in essence, a non-weapon.


spitwads, paper cone darts, rubber bands, cap guns, airsoft (when they are in a good and generous mood), rubber tipped dart guns, potato cannon (though they are, per law, “firearms), compressed air nerf guns, squirt guns, nerf bats, water balloons……

kids’ toys.

Nothing lethal in OUR hands is what they are on about.

These boys (they are most assuredly NOT “men” in any true sense of the word) need to be taken out to the woodshed and enjoy a little attitude readjustment.

Mike McAllister

Liberal POS court!!!

Gene Ralno

Machine guns in the hands of good guys would level the battlefield. Armed good guys already outnumber bad guys by a huge margin and armed with machine guns might end the threat of armed bad guys altogether.

Otto Didact

The court didn’t ignore anything. The leftists do not believe the founders’ own explanation of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. Their (ever changing) interpretation of the 2A allows them to do whatever they want – up to and including an outright ban on all firearms and confiscation at the muzzle of a gun. Remember, government – not merely our current regime but governments from time immemorial – have never really considered themselves constrained by anything. Governments and their agents will do whatever they damned well please so long as they can get away with it. The only reason John… Read more »


The 20th century was the government regulation era, and by extension so goes the 21st. Prior to Wilson’s administration there was almost no regulatory administration or regulation agency under the executive branch’s authority – these agencies simply did not exist until the “Progressive” era began. Wilson wrote a book titled, “The Administrator”, in which he outlined his utopian dream of governmental authority in control of a nation’s populace, for their own good, so to speak. This all comes from elitist thinking that dictates government must giude the people in every detail of their lives. This is contrary to The Constitution… Read more »

Wild Bill

@SFC very well stated. I think that there are small ways that we can fight back on a daily basis (e.g. barter, gift giving, and cash hoarding.) This coming election, however, we are going to have to vote as a block, like the minorities already do. Fight back against Bayrock and the Bureaucrats.


“Governments may restrict the possession of machine guns.” Can any of these tyrants in black robes show me where within the Constitution is there authority for the Federal Government to have word one on the issue of arms. They can’t because there is NO authority for the Federal Gov. to issue rules, regulations or laws regarding guns. The ATF does not exist Constitutionally. The States if they understood their Constitutional role as the creators of the Federal Government would and should tell the Feds their guns laws do not exist Constitutionally therefore are null and void.

P F Flyer

I’m just curious. The term confiscated was used. Does that mean he was not financially compensated by the entity he had to surrender it to, although another entity of the same government told him he could proceed? This sounds like something the Eastern Band of Cherokee would do as a so called “sovereign nation”! LOfL


Seems they totally ignored the Miller decision, and the congressional arguments leading to the 1934 tax scheme where congress acknowledged they could not ban any type of firearms in use by the armed forces.

Wild Bill

Miller contained “dicta” not a decision. The third circuit is replete with political corruption. The founders intended that politics never infect the judiciary.

Isa Guy

Yeesh…”machine guns” have been around since the puckle gun in the early 1700s.

Calling machine guns “unusual” is just overreach. They wouldn’t be “unusual” if they were available.

“shall not be infringed” only occurs in one place in the Constitution and its Amendments. For good reason, as we sadly see a possible trend today.


Yup. I’m not much of a fan of the “black and ugly” rifles in civilian form….. but if I could buy one as our military have in common use, I would quickly rethink that position. Per the Founders and common understanding of that era, “arms” means weapons of military use that can be transported and deployed by an individual. The AR style rifle in semi-automatic form only qualifies… and since the same frame and appearance and ammunition are inherent in the military ‘select fire” versions of the same rifle, it also qualifies. Stupid judges need some history lessons. Or maybe… Read more »

Jorge Norberto Pedace



Jorge says he agrees with you, David.

Youdont Needtoknow

Happiness is owning a machine shop, Being skilled to make the parts to build and own what you want without anti-constitutionalist to tell me no. Fuck this government and all who say nothing about it’s violation of the constitution.


Machine guns are not in common use? What have I seen at Knob Creek, Big Sandy, and just this past weekend at Medicine Wells Colorado? Must have been about 2,000 machine guns there. Seems to me they are in pretty common use.


We fully expect these federal despots to crap all over the Constitution. It’s what they do.


“The government can restrict the possession of weapons the government restricts, which are not in common use, because the government restricted them, making them not in common use.”

“But don’t worry, you poor little Serfs, the government still allows you the possession and use of weapons it hasn’t yet restricted, which would make them, of course, not in common use.”


Machine guns are not only protected by the U.S. Constitution, but they implicitly are issued by divine decree. Molon Labe.

John Comeau

as you and Mike so often point out, ultimately the 2A means what the armed population decides that it means. I’m a little disappointed by the way these slack-jawed black-robes disregard their role in the upcoming war they are forcing on us, and the repercussions it will have at the war crimes trials afterwards.

Clark Kent

They won’t be alive for any trials.


What are the names of the judges sitting on the US Third Court of Appeals, and what city, and state is this court located in?

Who appointed the judges to this court?

What fraternal organizations do the judges belong to?

What corporations did they work for before being appointed?

james Haury

I think it more important that a judges judicial philosophy be vetted.The judges who want to invalidate the second amendment in my opinion regard the constitution as a living document able to be interpreted any way they want.How else did they find a right to murder the unborn?Our forefathers were against abortion.The judges we should elect will view the constitution as document which has a definite immutable meaning.that meaning is the one the forefathers intended and can be determined by reading what they wrote at the time about it.


What is a non-dangerous weapon?



David Appleby

A rubber band gun, I never intend to show up to a gun fight with such a weapon.

james Haury

No, a rubber band gun could hurt someones eye.A militia equippped with non dangerous weapons is worse than useless.The whole purpose of a militia is to be potentially dangerous.


Let me rephrase that if it is non-dangerous how is it a weapon?