Gun owners know their rights are on the ballot this November. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and the rest of the Democrats have committed to banning certain types of guns, restricting private gun sales, and even banning the sale of gun parts over the Internet.
The best way to protect the Second Amendment is by defeating Democrats at the ballot box this fall. The second-best way is by confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Lawful gun ownership is our right as Americans but for many years the courts denied it. Activist judges treated the Second Amendment like a “second-class right,” to quote Justice Alito, ignoring its plain text or else contorting its meaning by claiming the Constitution only protected a vague right to own guns as part of a “well-regulated militia.”
During these dark days, it was common for liberal cities to ban virtually all guns within their jurisdiction. One of the worst offenders was the District of Columbia, which made it almost impossible to possess a legal firearm—and suffered some of the nation’s highest rates of violent crime as a result.
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Laws in the D.C. made it a crime to carry an unregistered handgun, while generally prohibiting the registration of handguns in the first place. Even if a D.C. resident was somehow able to own a firearm in a lawful manner, even in their own home, the firearm had to be kept unloaded or disassembled—rendering it useless in the event of a home invasion or other sudden threat.
This all changed in 2008 when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling for gun rights known as D.C. v. Heller. The Heller case, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, affirmed that gun ownership for self-defense is an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution. It thus struck down the worst of D.C.’s gun-control laws.
But then a strange thing happened. Right after issuing the most consequential ruling for gun rights in decades, the Supreme Court went dark on the issue. The Court has failed to clarify what it means for gun ownership to be an individual right.
In fact, it hasn’t issued a ruling on guns in more than a decade. Just this year, the Court declined to hear appeals on 10 separate cases involving gun rights, including a case about whether we have a constitutional right to carry firearms outside our homes for self-defense.
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The Court’s inaction has allowed dubious gun-control laws to stay on the books in many areas, while emboldening radical activists to press for new restrictions on our rights in lower courts. This led Justice Clarence Thomas to lament that the Court was allowing the Second Amendment to become a “constitutional orphan.”
Gun-rights supporters can be hopeful about the future, however, because President Trump has selected a rock-solid Supreme Court nominee in Judge Barrett.
Barrett proved at her confirmation hearings last week that she has all the legal acumen and charm of her mentor, Justice Scalia. She’s also equally as strong a conservative, with a firm commitment to interpreting the law as written, not as she or anyone else would like it to be. That includes the Second Amendment.
When Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., —who represents Chicago, the current gun-control and gun-violence capital of America—attacked Judge Barrett for her belief that gun ownership for self-defense is an individual right, she defended her record and stood her ground.
Judge Barrett hasn’t issued many rulings about guns in her three years on the federal bench, but the one case where she addressed the issue head-on should give Americans confidence that she’ll protect their constitutional right to bear arms.
In a 2018 case, Barrett wrote that a state law that dispossessed all felons of firearms, even non-violent felons, was unconstitutionally broad because it included people who posed no obvious threat to public safety.
Her thoughtful and detailed analysis demonstrated a strong understanding of the scope of the Second Amendment.
Such a clear-eyed view of the right would prohibit sweeping and novel gun-control laws of the sort that liberal activists are salivating over, while allowing certain time-honored, common-sense limitations in the interest of public safety—for example, to prevent violent felons from owning guns.
Judge Barrett’s respect for the Constitution and our historical tradition as a nation make her a worthy addition to the Supreme Court. Confirming her nomination could cement a solid majority of justices who are committed to defending our constitutional right to bear arms.
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It’s crucial that the Senate vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination with all reasonable speed.
I look forward to voting for Judge Barrett in the coming days because I trust she’ll treat the Second Amendment not as a “disfavored right,” but as a right that’s central to who we are as free people.