For Release: Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Washington, DC–The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released a backgrounder on Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito.
Key aspects of the document include:
- Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito voted to strike down the 1986 federal machine gun ban in the case U.S. v. Rybar, [103 F.3d 273 (3d Cir. 1996)]. Judge Alito was the lone dissenter in the decision upholding the conviction of a gun dealer who sold illegal machine guns at a Pennsylvania gun show.
- Application of Judge Alito’s unusual and extremely restrictive view of Congressional regulatory power could imperil virtually every federal law that currently regulates firearms, ammunition, and explosives.
- Judge Alito’s opposition to the machine gun ban mirrors that of the National Rifle Association. In 1986, following passage of the ban, then-NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director, now NRA Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre stated, Repealing the machine gun amendment…will be a high priority, and promised the NRA’s members that the organization would actively work toward the repeal of the recent machine gun ban and will take all necessary steps to educate the public on the sporting uses and legal ownership of automatic firearms. The NRA’s efforts at the time failed.
- A brief history of machine gun regulation: from the restrictions imposed by the National Firearms Act of 1934 in response to the violence stemming from Prohibition to the banning of the possession and transfer of new machine guns by civilians in 1986 under the Firearms Owners Protection Act.
The backgrounder concludes, If Judge Samuel Alito views on firearms and public safety, as expressed through his minority opinion in U.S. v. Rybar, became the law of the land, all Americans would be at greater risk from virtually uncontrollable firearms proliferation. The federal government would be almost powerless to keep firearms, ammunition, and other deadly commodities out of the hands of criminals and even terrorists. In a time of increased concern regarding homeland security, such views are not only counterintuitive, but exceedingly dangerous.