Nicholas Johnson Testifies on Assault Weapons Ban of 2013February 28, 2013
Fordham Law Professor Nicholas Johnson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 on February 27.
He acknowledged the powerful prior testimony of those affected by the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, 2012.
"Sitting through the last two pieces of testimony, I will just affirm the instinct that when one listens to the victims of events like this, the impulse is to basically give them anything they want—and I understand that impulse," Johnson said.
"What I would say to people who support the bill, which I have critiqued here, [is] that mine is a counsel of despair, unfortunately.
"My testimony is drawn from an extensive analysis of this question that I published in 2009. My core point here is that the classifications established by Senate 150 [the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013] are unsustainable under the lowest level of constitutional review. They fail even to meet the rudimentary rational basis requirement."
He went on to explain that the characteristics that define the class of guns subject to the ban cannot be sustained when compared on objective measures—primarily multi-shot capability and pistol grips—to other commonly available guns that would not be banned.
Details of Professor Johnson's analysis appear in his recent JURIST post, "Assault Weapons Ban: Constitutional Parameters of Gun Control."
In concluding his testimony, Professor Johnson stated: "My overall assessment here is this: Guns are dangerous. All of them are dangerous. As a class, they are exceptionally deadly, particularly when deployed against unarmed and defenseless people. And on that score, I fear that the conversation we've been having about this particular type of gun is a distraction from the broader issues."
View webcast of the February 27, 2013, Senate Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. (Professor Johnson is introduced for testimony at 02:36:50.)
Related Scholarship by Professor Nicholas Johnson
Harvard Law & Policy Review: "The Second Amendment in the States and the Limits of the Common Use Standard"
Santa Clara Law Review: "Administering the Second Amendment: Law, Politics, and Taxonomy"
Casebook: Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy