Lv 6
what? asked in SportsOutdoor RecreationHunting · 1 decade ago

US v. Miller and the Hughes Amendment?

I just read US v. Miller, and could not help but to immediately think of the legality of the Hughes Amendment.

Miller seems to imply that the ONLY weapons that US citizens are guaranteed the right to bear are normal military weapons. This was the argument of the United States.

But if that is true, then wouldn't the Hughes Amendment (prohibiting citizens from buying full-auto capable weapons made after 1986) be unconstitutional?

Given that the select-fire M-16/M-4 has become the standard issue weapon for basically everyone in the military, it seems clear that full-auto rifles are "ordinary military equipment." And given that in Hughes, the government's argument (and the Court's decision) was based on the fact that "ordinary military equipment" is the only category of arms to which the people have a Constitutional right, how can the Hughes Amendment possibly be legal?

Has it ever been challenged on these grounds?



SBS's were in service in the US Army during the time of Miller. However, the government claimed it was not "ordinary military equipment." The defendant (Miller) never got a chance to offer evidence to the contrary, because they started the appeal before the Defense had opened it's case.

However, the Court's decision is worded to imply that "ordinary military equipment" would be protected by the 2nd. However, the trial court never heard evidence that a SBS would qualify as "ordinary military equipment," and it was on that grounds that the Court decided in favor of the Government.

If you read it, the Court clearly made "ordinary military equipment" the standard.

7 Answers

  • E C
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I agree with ThePerfectStranger about lawyers. They train us to come up with various legal theories to win cases, but it's less emphasized if we should be winning those cases in the first place. Still, whenever it gets me down I just remember that Gandhi was a lawyer. :)

    In many cases, US v. Miller (1939) has not been seen to lay down a "general rule". For instance, in Cases v. US (1942) and US v. Warin (1976) say that Miller did not create a rule that should be applied to all cases.

    The other argument (more recently made) is that while machine guns are in use by the military, individuals must make a pretty strong case that their particular machine gun (the one they own) has to be reasonably related to the efficiency of a militia. See US v. Bournes (2000) and US v. Hale (1992). Finally, a minority of cases have even gone so far as to say that you have to be part of a militia. US v. Fincher (2008).

    In terms of regulating machine guns, there is a case called US v. Haney that rules that Congress is allowed to regulate machine guns through the "interstate commerce clause". The ICC is the power that allows Congress to regulate commerce between two states or affecting two states. Haney found that machine guns are inherently articles of interstate commerce and so can be regulated.

    Now if the Hughes has actually been challenged, and the answer is not as far as I can tell. There are 15 or so odd cases that cite the US Code that the Hughes Amendment is part of. From what I've scanned through, all of them deal with other parts of the law (not the Hughes Amendment). It's generally hard to win a case when your appellants are either convicted felons or domestic terrorists.

    Let's start off trying to win back semi-automatic rifles and handguns before we spring for automatic weapons. Better PR that way.

    Source(s): Not bluebook ;) US v. Miller- 59 S. Ct. 816 Cases v. US- 131 F.2d 916 US v. Warin- 530 F.2d 130 US v. Haney- 264 F.3d 1161 US v. Bournes- 105 F. Supp. 2d 736 US v. Hale- 978 F.2d 1016 US v. Fincher- 538 F.3d 868 American Law Review- 37 A.L.R. Fed. 696 American Jurisprudence- 79 Am. Jur. 2d Weapons and Firearms § 6 Firearms Owners Protection Act- 18 U.S.C.A. § 921
  • 1 decade ago

    I believe this had to do with the legality of a short barrelled weapon or more commonly known as a sawed off shotgun. The Supreme Court ruled that a sawed off shotgun was not commonly used as a weapon used in military conflict. With this reasoning, you can make the connection to allow the ownership of military assault weapons and large clips. The Supreme Court did not used good judgement or military judgement because when defening one's country or self, all weapons are fair and short barrelled weapons have in deed been used in warfare. Besides, what is the difference between a sawed off shotgun and a pistol. Both have short barrells.

    Regardless, there is no justice in our current legal system. Too often, the judges prejudice and ideology influence his/her decision. Lawyers can take a simple thought and twist it way out of proportion. Therefore, you need more lawyers to argue it. Never go to court thinking you are going to get justice or ever what you might perceive as fair. We have way too many lawyers in this country. Most of our politicians are lawyers and you can see what a mess we have.

  • 1 decade ago

    What the other guy said but

    Miller was based on the opinion that a short barreled shotgun was not suitable as a combat gun (many many police agencies and combat units used short barreled shotguns)

    In making that statement SCOTUS at the time introduced the reasoning that a gun that was not commonly used in combat was not suitable for individual ownership

    It did not make the statement that all guns commonly used in combat are suitable for individual ownership

    In other words

    You can not own a gun that is not a typical combat weapon (without the hoop jumping)but that doesn't mean you get to own a gun just because it is typically used in combat (without the hoop jumping)

  • 5 years ago

    Yes... If no state law exists to ban such weapons it is not bound by any mandate to enforce Federal law... This is evident in recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington... Although Federal law prohibits marijuana it is not the states duty, or requirement to enforce a law not ratified by the state... They can mandate that state officials do not enforce federal law but any activity such as sale of full auto weapons or marijuana is still punishable and enforceable by federal agencies... In the case of the Hughes Amendment it would not go good since the Feds would be all over that i would imagine

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  • 1 decade ago

    more current is the pending Supreme Court case to define the 2d Amendment as a fundamental right of all citizens and not subject to individual state and local restrictions.

  • 2A
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Your kicking a dead horse........our rights are slowly eroding and it may not be long before the huge anti-gun public and Politicians take it away.

    Look at history....since 1934 they have been chopping down the tree.....and the tree is getting mighty thin.

    Everyone needs to fight with our pens,telephones,emails,faxes to our government officials and vote out all anti-gunners.

    Join the NRA......our biggest power.....

  • 1 decade ago


    First, you must understand these two words: FUNDAMENTAL LAW. This is the collection of documents upon which this nation was founded. The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution for the united States of America constitute a CONTRACT between the people, and the Government we put in place to do our bidding. THEY ARE OUR EMPLOYEES. Our employees, in the process of doing our bidding, may not pass any law which either contradicts the Fundamental Law, or expands the government's authority (which is redundant).

    In this contract, we define some (but not all) of our Rights under God. Any sentence in the contract that reads,"The legislature shall have power to..." means that a certain power is delegated down (but not ceded) to the government, so as to do our bidding. We have not lost that power, but we give the inanimate body called government permission to exercise that power in our name, by our authority as Sovereign Citizens, from which all political power originates, to do our bidding. However, any sentence in the contract that reads,"The Right of the People...shall not be Infringed," is a right specifically and categorically denied to the government, and reserved exclusively to the Sovereign Citizens to exercise at their solitary discretion. The permission to legislate, execute, or adjudicate on matters pertaining to that Right is SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED to the government, and any attempt to do so constitutes an illegal expansion of government powers, and so is a breach of the contract.

    So, under the Fundamental Law, any law passed, any court case decided upon, or any action taken by the Executive branch, contrary to Fundamental Law,is an illegal, unconstitutional breach of law, and can be completely and totally ignored, because while is has the color of law, is not law, and carries no weight of law.

    Now, to your specific question. It doesn't matter. There is NO law, and NO court decision, that is binding on you, because they are all unconstitutional expansions of government powers,that we have specifically prohibited them from exercising in our name.

    Our federal government constantly tries to do a "bait-and-switch" with the law, passing constitutional laws for places under federal jurisdiction, and then telling us Citizens that the laws apply to everyone, everywhere. Just as you don't have to pay California Income tax if you live in Wisconsin (thank God), you don't have to obey federal laws if you are not in their jurisdiction, either. Where is their jurisdiction, you ask? Washington, D.C., Territories of the United States, and the "Places" mentioned in the Constitution.(See source #1 Article 8, next to last paragraph, below) If you are not in one of those locations, federal law doesn't apply to arms at all. Contrary to popular belief, and several laws and court decisions, the government does not have authority over arms based on the "Interstate Commerce" clause of the Constitution, because the Second Amendment trumps it's authority to regulate arms. And they know it.

    Please read the references below. The first reference below , in Article 8 of the Constitution, states what the jurisdiction of the government is. It allows Congress to exercise total legislative authority over only,"such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings,,," The second reference is all the criminal laws THAT APPLY TO FEDERAL JURISDICTION. Notice specifically in 18USC Section 10 (reference #3) It specifically names and affirms the definition already understood in the Constitution, of two separate terms: "Interstate Commerce", and "Foreign Commerce." But in 18USC Section 44, the Section dealing with federal arms laws, it uses what looks like a shorthand version of two constitutional terms, the words,"Interstate or Foreign Commerce." Close, but no cigar. Read reference #4 for the definition of "Interstate or Foreign Commerce." Section 921, Paragraph a2, defines "Interstate or Foreign Commerce" as transportation of arms between PLACES in a State and PLACES outside a State. Those PLACES are the same PLACES named in the Constitution. That's the limit of their jurisdiction over arms. But the government tells us that they have authority over arms based on Interstate Commerce and Foreign Commerce law, when they really don't.

    "A man who does not read is no better than a man who cannot read." Read, and understand, our founding documents, or you never understand when your "employees" are screwing you. Just my humble opinion.

    Source(s): Article 1 of the US Constitution, from the Cornell Law School website: http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constituti... Title 18 of the US Code from the same site: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/us... Definition of Interstate Commerce, and the definition of Foreign Commerce, as it applies to federal criminal law, from the same site: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/us... Definition of the specific TERM, "Interstate or Foreign Commerce", as it applies ONLY to federal gun laws: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/us...
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