Gun legislation of dubious constitutionality


To the Editor:

Again this session a group of progressive Democrats led by Rep. Aaron Rugenberg has introduced the so-called high capacity magazine bill (H5155). Co-sponsors include newly-elected progressive Democrats Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, Susan Donovan and Jason Knight. Progressives seem obsessed with gun control.

The bill would forbid the manufacture, sale or possession of any detachable "ammunition feeding device" that can hold more than ten rounds. Anyone in possession of such a device or components thereof including licensed firearms dealers would have 120 days after the bill is signed by the governor to remove the high capacity magazine from the state; sell it to a licensed dealer; or surrender it to a law enforcement agency for destruction.

This provision is of dubious constitutionality because it represents government-ordered confiscation of private property without compensation -a violation of the Fifth Amendment. Neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts already have restrictions -not a ban- on high capacity magazines. Since there would be no market for these magazines dealers would not buy them and firearms dealers would have to dispose of their inventory of "hi-cap mags" without compensation.

Unexplained is why ten rounds represent "high-capacity.” Colorado decided the magic number is fifteen and New York says it is seven. In the wake of the Newtown tragedy Connecticut allowed residents owning a hi-cap mag to register it with the State Police with the proviso that they would not load more than ten rounds in them.

I suppose a terrorist or mentally ill person intent on shooting up a school, shopping mall or movie theater would not load more than ten bullets in his gun because that would be against the law.

There are technical problems with H5155 was well. It exempts a hi-cap mag that has been "permanently altered so it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds", whatever that means. Also exempt are ".22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device[s]" which is ambiguous since there is no ".22 caliber tube ammunition" of which I am aware.

Finally, the bill exempts "A tubular magazine that is contained in a lever action firearm.” However, there are .22 caliber bolt and pump-action and semi-automatic rifles that fed by an attached tubular magazine that holds more than ten bullets. Unexplained is why only lever-action rifles would be exempt especially since there are several lever-actions holding more than ten rounds that are chambered in calibers much more powerful than .22 Long Rifle.

The penalty for violation is a felony subject to no more than ten years in prison. So an otherwise law-abiding, tax-paying citizen who keeps a high-cap mag of can be put away for ten years.

The anti-gun crowd is cleverly marketing this high-capacity magazine ban by noting that waterfowl hunters are limited to three rounds and deer hunters to five. This flawed analogy ignores the fact that the Second Amendment of the federal and Section 22 of Article I of the state Constitutions have nothing to do with hunting. The "right to bear arms" is based on a right to self defense and defense of the nation.

Richard J. August

North Kingstown

The writer is co-host of weekly radio show “Lock, Stock and Daria” and writes frequently on Second Amendment issues.


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The proposed legislation is unconstitutional because it requires one to rid oneself of personal property without compensation by the state. Under the proposed law, you would be required to get rid of your 'high capacity' magazines within one year. After that, you could be fined. This is the equivalent of the state saying 'we want your house but instead of invoking eminent domain, we will have you sell your home and not give you any money for it and if you don't sell it, we will fine you next year'. I don't know who wrote this bill but if they are attorneys, don't utilize their services.

Thursday, February 23

I'm sure that all criminals will be disposing of their high-capacity magazines to be in compliance with the law; it's far more likely that they'll buy them online from legal gun owners and put law-abiding citizens at a further disadvantage.

These stupid laws are usually generated and supported by individuals who don't know how to LOAD a magazine, let alone know the grip from the business end of a firearm.

How about just enforcing the gun laws that are already on the books? Introduce legislation that makes it mandatory that offenders' sentences run consecutively, not concurrently, and eliminate plea bargaining unless the offender can provide information on other firearm offenders.

davebarry109, it's the RI General Assembly- if the legislation wasn't introduced by an attorney, odds are it's a retired teacher or union hack.

Friday, February 24

They are idiots. Ignorant. I recall a video wherein a couple of gun guys had a display of guns. Some were hunting rifles and some were AR and AK type military rifles. When asked to judge, based on appearance, which rifles were the most powerful, most of the 'citizens' walking by chose the military looking weapons. When told that the milder looking hunting rifles were actually much more powerful, they didn't believe it. They chose the weapons that 'looked mean'. That is the type of dope we are dealing with in the general assembly. 10 rounds? 12 rounds? Who decides?

You can pry my 30 round mags from my cold, dead hands.

Friday, February 24

davebarry109, I'd like to see any of them walk into a reputable firearm dealer and ask to see the "assault rifles"- they'd be laughed out of the place.

A while back, there was a school shooting where a student jumped up and tackled the shooter (a fellow student) when the weapon was empty and he had to reload. The young man who subdued the shooter was interviewed on CNN and asked how he knew when to make his move, and he responded that he was an NRA member and had been around firearms his whole life and knew from experience when the pistol was empty; before he could finish his response, CNN faded the audio, went to commercial and the clip wasn't shown again.

His message didn't fit the ignorant narrative they all peddle...can't have the public knowing facts over their fiction.

Friday, February 24

What Rep. Rugenberg calls "Hi-capacity" most of the rest of the civilized world refers to as standard capacity.

Monday, February 27