In the majority opinion of the Heller case, the Supreme court said:
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms.
(an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons
protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that
limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of
prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”
This has been called the “common use” test. This can be a dangerous precedent, because what is not in common use today may be the best thing tomorrow. Case in point:
A doctor in London thinks that he can use psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, to treat depression. However, the problem is that the drug is a class I controlled substance, meaning that it is highly addictive and has no recognized medical use. For that reason, scientists and doctors cannot even use the drug in studies to investigate whether or not it has a medical use. In other words, since it is not in common use, no one may use it, even to find out if it CAN be useful. That is the problem with “common use” tests.
This line of reasoning means that the founding fathers meant for the Constitution to only protect muskets, as they were all that was in common use at the time of ratification. I cannot believe that the founders could possibly be so short sighted. If this were the case, the First Amendment would not protect your right to speech on the internet, over the telephone, or on the radio.
Here in the US, the Republican party is all for drug prohibition and fully supports this application of the common use test. Marijuana is itself a class 1 controlled substance, and the Republicans refuse to admit that it has, or ever can have, a legitimate medical use. The Republicans: for smaller, less intrusive government. Unless it involves drugs. Or sex. Or marriage. Or forcing people to learn about religion in school. Or making alcohol off limits during the hours that church is in session. Or…