U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On September 23, 2021, the Firearms Policy Coalition filed a lawsuit challenging a ban on the sale and possession of precursor materials used by individuals to make their own firearms. The ban flies in the face of long-standing precedents. Individuals have been legally and practically able to make their own firearms ever since the Republic was founded. From firearmspolicy.org:
“The right of individuals to self-manufacture arms for self-defense and other lawful purposes is part and parcel of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and an important front in the battle to secure fundamental rights against abusive government regulations, like San Diego’s unconstitutional ban,” said Adam Kraut, FPC’s Senior Director of Legal Operations. “FPC will continue to aggressively work to defend the People’s rights and property in this case and dozens of others throughout the United States.”
The United States chose not to follow the path of Japan, where the warlord/rulers, after using firearms to unify Japan under one government, made the individual manufacture of firearms without a license illegal, then consolidated all firearms manufacture to one city; then banned firearms manufacture and all ownership by private individuals. In most governments around the world, the private manufacture by unlicensed individuals is forbidden.
Most other governments in the world have strict controls on what can be said or written and published. Such controls are becoming more common in formerly free countries such as Australia, England, and Canada.
The lawsuit compares the First Amendment and the Second. From the legal complaint:
34. In the First Amendment context, free speech rights include the ability to build one’s own printing and communications devices, print one’s own fliers, and utilize largely unregulated channels of speech in the exercise of the rights secured. In that context, it is well established and readily accepted that the government cannot lawfully narrow the channels for exercising the right to freely speak through government-approved gatekeepers who create or provide limited channels of speech and limited means of distribution for a beholden populace.
35. Likewise, in the Second Amendment context, the government cannot lawfully narrow the channels for exercising the right to keep and bear arms by limiting one’s access to the instruments essential to self-manufacturing in the exercise of that right, by forcing people to exercise it solely through the acquisition of firearms from limited, government-approved manufacturers of firearms and firearm predecessor materials.
It is likely this complaint will go to Judge Roger T. Benitez, of the District Court in the Southern District of California. Judge Benitez is the author of other decisions about the scope of the Second Amendment. Judge Benitez is a careful scholar with excellent logic and writing skills.
If he is assigned the case, we should know relatively soon. The lawsuit calls for an immediate injunction against the enforcement of the San Diego Ordinance no. 0-2022-7.
A ban on the possession of objects which can be made into firearms receivers or frames is a very broad ban indeed. It logically would include a great many metal pipes; perhaps blocks of metal or plastic. It is part of the rabbit hole of gun control. You cannot effectively control guns in an industrial society unless you control the information about how to make guns, and the tools needed to make them.
The idea that “untraceable” and “unregistered” firearms are a unique threat to society is false. Most guns in the United States are untraceable and unregistered. If even a million of them are made in a given year, it is a small number compared to the hundreds of millions already in existence in the United States.
The firearms made are of the types in common use for self-defense and other legal purposes. The ordinance is not narrowly tailored to have minimum impact on ordinary citizens, nor is the “harm” from the private manufacture of guns shown to be more dangerous than the ordinary manufacture of firearms.
The Second Amendment necessarily takes some policy decisions “off the table”. This is one of them.
If the lawsuit goes to Judge Benitez, I expect it to be found unconstitutional. There is no longstanding law that forbids law-abiding citizens to own, make, or sell partly finished firearms frames or receivers.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.