summary of united states vs miller?
i need the background,both sides of the argument,and the decision.
- ℑℑLv 77 years agoFavorite Answer
United States v. Miller involved a criminal prosecution under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Passed in response to public outcry over the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the NFA requires certain types of firearms (including but not limited to fully automatic firearms and short-barreled rifles and shotguns) to be registered with the Miscellaneous Tax Unit (later to be folded into what eventually became the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF) which at the time was part of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (ancestor of today's Internal Revenue Service),with a $200 tax paid at the time of registration and again if the firearm was ever sold.
Defendants Miller and Layton filed a demurrer challenging the relevant section of the National Firearms Act as an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment. District Court Justice Heartsill Ragon accepted the claim and dismissed the indictment, stating, "The court is of the opinion that this section is invalid in that it violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, U.S.C.A., providing, 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'" Justice Ragon provided no further explanation of his reasons.
The U.S Government appealed the decision and on March 30, 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. Attorneys for the United States argued four points:
1. The NFA is intended as a revenue-collecting measure and therefore within the authority of the Department of the Treasury.
2.The defendants transported the shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and therefore used it in interstate commerce.
3. The Second Amendment protects only the ownership of military-type weapons appropriate for use in an organized militia.
4. The "double barrel 12-gauge Stevens shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length, bearing identification number 76230" was never used in any militia organization.
Neither the defendants nor their legal counsel appeared at the Supreme Court. A lack of financial support and procedural irregularities prevented counsel from traveling. Miller was found shot to death in April, before the decision was rendered
On May 15, 1939 the Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion by Justice McReynolds, reversed and remanded the District Court decision. The Supreme Court declared no conflict between the NFA and the Second Amendment had been established, writing:
"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."
Describing the constitutional authority under which Congress could call forth state militia, the Court stated, "With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."
The Court also looked to historical sources to explain the meaning of "militia" as set down by the authors of the Constitution:
"The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."
- PhyllisLv 44 years ago
If anything, Heller makes it less likely that a challenge to Hughes would succeed. On it's face, Hughes runs directly counter to the courts ruling in "Miller" that said it was legal for the government to ban a sawn-off shotgun since it wasn't a weapon that would be part of the normal equipment of a militia. Full auto weapons are, of course, the normal equipment of a fighting force today. Heller, though, makes it clear that the court believes the government has the authority to 'regulate' gun ownership, just not to ban it. Richard
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