Case Information: Watson v. Lynch, No. 15-2859 (3d Cir. Brief Filed Jan. 28, 2016)
At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to federal laws that generally prohibit the private possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986. The district court ruled that the challenged laws do not violate the Second Amendment, and the case is now on appeal before the Third Circuit.
The Law Center’s Brief: Our brief focuses on the argument that machine guns are not protected firearms under the Second Amendment. We explain to the Third Circuit that machine guns are outside the scope of the Second Amendment for at least two distinct reasons: 1) machine guns easily qualify as “dangerous and unusual” weapons under Heller; and 2) the machine gun ban qualifies as a “longstanding” prohibition. Our brief establishes that these categories are best understood as categorical exceptions to the Second Amendment right and therefore fall outside of its scope entirely. Finally, the brief traces both the historical origins and ongoing success of machine gun regulation in America.