Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito voted to strike down the 1986 federal ban on machine guns, says the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based gun-control advocacy group. Alito’s “unusual and extremely restrictive view of congressional regulatory power could imperil virtually every” federal gun-control law, the center argues. The opinion was issued in the case of a federal firearms license holder who was convicted of illegal machine gun sales at a 1992 Pennsylvania gun show.
A majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the conviction in 1996. Dissenting, Alito took the view that Congress had not established that intrastate possessionof machine guns has a substantial effect on interstate commerce that warrants federal intervention. The center noted that the National Rifle Association has tried unsuccessfully to repeal the machine gun ban. The center asserted that if Alito’s views prevailed, Americans “would be at greater risk from virtually uncontrollable firearms proliferation.” The issue may be raised at Alito’s confirmation hearings, which will not be held until January.