Richard Clark is a friend of mine and a respected colleague. He is a decorated U.S. Marine combat veteran. He wrote a letter to the editor, published on March 14, that was factually accurate and also misleading. He asserts that LaFave’s “owning” an AR-15 style weapon was not protected by the Second Amendment. In the Supreme Court decision in Heller v District of Columbia, Justice Scalia wrote that “carrying” a “dangerous and unusual” weapon can be restricted. The opinion did not address the issue of “owning” such a weapon.
AR-15s make up approximately one third of the rifles owned by civilians in the USA, so they are not unusual. Every rifle is dangerous, and ARs are not more dangerous than any center-fire semi-automatic rifle (or a bolt-action rifle in skilled hands).
In the middle of his letter, Richard Clark states that “‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons include ARs. He is correct. In Maryland, Judge Catherine Blake (a Clinton appointee) ruled that ARs are dangerous and unusual weapons. The basis for her opinion was, “the court seriously doubts that banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes.” Every U.P. hunter and sportsperson knows that this statement is silly. The FBI estimated in 2013 (the latest date that we have full data) that there are 5,700,000 ARs in the USA (this does not include AK-47 type weapons). Obviously, the vast majority of these are being used legally by law-abiding citizens. Note: in Michigan, ARs are not “dangerous and unusual” weapons.
In the last sentence of his letter, Richard Clark called for “regulation” of such weapons. From 1994 to 2004, there was a federal “Assault Weapons Ban.” During the ban, the probability of being killed by an assault rifle was 3.29%, (with a peak of 4.08%). After the ban was lifted in 2004, the probability of being killed by an assault rifle fell to 2.62%, (with a peak of 3.02%). So, the Assault Weapons Ban apparently increased the probability of being killed by an assault weapon. After the ban was lifted in 2004, there was no effect on the overall crime rate.
LaFave should be criticized for not securing his weapons against theft. An underwear drawer is hardly secure.
Ralph B. Blasier