Those defiant gun owners will also be included in the jury pools chosen to sit in judgement of unlucky violators scooped up by law enforcement. That situation will likely replicate the difficulty prosecutors had in getting convictions of Prohibition scofflaws in the 1920s and marijuana law resisters today. "[I]f juries consistently nullify certain types of criminal charges (charges for possession of a small amount of marijuana, for example), this can render an unpopular law ineffective," wrote John Richards at the LegalMatch blog after a jury couldn't even be seated in Montana.This argument is most famously made in Lord Patrick Devlin's The Enforcement of Morals. His point was that, in a country that accepts freedom of conscience where religion is concerned, religion can no longer ground moral laws (because everyone has a right to dissent from any religious view). Rather than do away with legislation that was meant to enforce moral codes, Devlin proposes an alternative justification. He called it 'man in the jury-box' or 'man on the Clapham omnibus' standard. Essentially the idea was that ordinary British citizens could be trusted to know right from wrong, or in any case to work it out over time, and thus that they should be free to pass moral laws grounded on their common sense. The test for whether a moral law was valid or not was whether or not the ordinary British citizen would enforce it if called to serve on a jury. A law they wouldn't enforce had no business being a law anyway.
"If you pass laws that people have no respect for and they don't follow them, then you have a real problem," Connecticut Sen. Tony Guglielmo (R-District 35), told the Hartford Courant when large numbers of state residents flipped the bird to lawmakers and defied the new gun law.
Well... yes, you do. And like their restriction-inclined predecessors, gun controllers will have quite a mess on their hands.
That's actually a fairly strict standard, since juries require unanimous consent to convict someone. It means that any minority large enough to regularly turn up as even a single member of a jury has to be considered as well. Thus, you could still have laws grounded on nothing more than 'common sense moral disapproval' of a practice. You'd just have to have a very wide consensus about what morality entails on the point.