With the confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court beginning on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the gun prohibition lobby is pulling out all the stops to fight the nomination.
In an email blast earlier this week, anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety declared, “we know Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme outlier approach to the Second Amendment would elevate gun rights above public safety, and if he is confirmed, it could be disastrous for our fight to end gun violence.”
Reason essentially explained the angst in a July 6 essay that quoted Kavanaugh’s dissent in a 2011 case involving so-called “assault rifles” in which he wrote the following:
“In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns—the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic—are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semi-automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are. It follows from Heller’s protection of semi-automatic handguns that semi-automatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional.”—Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 2011, “Heller II”
This reasoning evidently has the gun prohibition lobby unhinged.
Kavanaugh’s nomination by President Donald Trump has received plenty of attention from the media as well. In July, NPR quoted an 18-year-old “political director” of the March for Our Lives anti-gun lobbying group who stated, “Kavanaugh’s basically the roadblock to anything we want happening.” Second Amendment activists didn’t see a problem with that, if it is a correct assessment.
UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told NPR that Judge Kavanaugh “believes in a very vigorous Second Amendment right to bear arms, and he thinks there is little room for constitutionally permissible gun control.” Again, gun rights activists believe that’s the way a Supreme Court justice ought to view the Second Amendment because, after all, it is a tenet of the Bill of Rights.
The Los Angeles Times, also reporting in July, recognized the fear of anti-gunners: “With the addition of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court could have a conservative majority to strike down bans on semi-automatic weapons in California and other liberal states and to decree that law-abiding Americans have a right to carry a gun in public.”
And in another July piece, the Chicago Tribune quoted former Congresswoman-turned-gun control advocate Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, suggesting that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he would be “putting corporate interests before public safety.”
By putting all of this out in the open, gun control proponents have removed any doubt that they view the Second Amendment as a second-class right. But it is still right there in the Bill of Rights, deserving of the same zealous protection as all of the other enumerated rights, say pro-rights activists.
Even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, that’s not an automatic assurance that the high court will open the floodgates to consider more Second Amendment cases, though some are pending. What it will mean, however, is that the court is far less likely to reverse either the Heller or McDonald rulings that affirmed the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right, which anti-gunners were hoping might happen under a Hillary Clinton presidency.