The Assault Weapons Ban as Understood by a 2nd Amendment Scholar

BY Cassie M. Chew  March 21, 2013 at 7:20 AM EST


Kwame Holman speaks with Second Amendment expert Joyce Lee Malcolm.

With news that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s, D-Calif., recent assault weapons ban will not get a vote on the Senate floor, PBS NewsHour examined the gun debate. Judy Woodruff detailed the developments Wednesday night with a report and interview with The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe.

Correspondent Kwame Holman recently spoke with Second Amendment scholar Joyce Lee Malcolm, a professor at George Mason University School of Law and author of “To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right.”

Malcolm spoke about how the Second Amendment came to be and what research suggests the framers of the Constitution intended.

She said that the assault weapons ban was unlikely to move to the Senate floor because it seems to ignore recent Supreme Court decisions that establish an individual right to own guns are commonly used for protection.

“I don’t really think the idea that you can ban them or reduce the magazine will really pass constitutional muster,” Malcolm said. “If your standard is common use, these are all in common use for lawful purposes.”

In an interview with NPR that aired Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said that he and President Barack Obama still plan to pursue legislation that would ban assault weapons.

Feinstein has said she will introduce her proposals as amendments during the yet-to-be-scheduled Senate floor debate. The bill that could reach the floor after the Easter recess may include language that would outlaw gun trafficking and strengthen the background check system.

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