Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee are leading the charge to codify the Supreme Court’s landmark Second Amendment decisions, arguing Democrats are committing a “frontal assault” on the constitutional amendment.
The Respect for the Second Amendment Act aims to codify key decisions held by the Supreme Court protecting the right to bear arms for law-abiding citizens.
“I am very pleased that all Senate Judiciary Republicans are speaking with one voice when it comes to supporting the Second Amendment rights recognized by the Supreme Court in the Heller and Bruen decisions,” Graham said in a statement.
During a press conference Thursday, the South Carolina lawmaker lambasted the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on Thursday “attacking the Supreme Court decision on Bruen,” referring to the high court’s 6-3 decision last year that significantly curtailed states’ ability to restrict citizens’ right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
“The chaos that the Bruen decision has caused was predictable,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “The Supreme Court has imposed a radical new framework.”
Gun safety advocates that attended the hearing decried the ruling as a dangerous setback that could also be devastating for some domestic violence.
“Some abusive intimate partners will legally access firearms they were previously forbidden from possessing, and some will use those firearms to terrorize and even kill their victims or others,” Ruth Glenn, the president of public affairs for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said.
Meanwhile, Graham used his time during the hearing to interview gun rights and pro-policing advocates who argued instances of gun violence stem from systematic problems with the criminal justice system.
Rafael Mangual, a researcher of policing and public safety for the Manhattan Institute, argued Wednesday that “as our criminal justice system has gotten softer, that problem has only gotten bigger.”
“Between 1990 and 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that over a third of individuals convicted of violent felonies were either out on probation, parole, or pretrial release at the time of those offenses,” Mangual said.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), a co-sponsor of Graham’s bill, said Thursday the proposal was also inspired by the Democrats’ passage of the Respect for Marriage Act last year, which codified the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that permitted same-sex marriages.
“It affirmed a Supreme Court opinion. And I’ll tell you what Congress could not have done, it could not have undermined that opinion,” Kennedy said of the Respect for Marriage Act.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Kennedy.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement supporting the codification bill, saying the decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen affirmed the right to defend oneself “does not disappear at a person’s front door.”
“On behalf of our millions of members, we thank Senator Graham for sponsoring legislation to reinforce Bruen in federal law,” Brian Calabrese, the managing director for federal affairs at the NRA, said.
While the NRA supported the GOP lawmakers’ effort, Gun Owners of America’s federal affairs director Aidan Johnston told the Washington Examiner Graham’s bill does not have the teeth to accomplish what the lawmakers argued it would do.
”[GOA] would happily work with any member of Congress to help codify Heller, McDonald, and Bruen decisions into federal law … Unfortunately, I think this particular bill entirely fails to do that and so that’s why we’re not supportive of this particular bill,” Johnston said, referring to a 2010 case in McDonald v. the City of Chicago that cemented due process for gun owners.
The pair of Second Amendment advocacy groups differ on a number of factors. The GOA, which sports more than 2 million members, was founded in the 1970s on the belief that the NRA was too flexible on gun issues. However, the NRA’s larger 5.5 million member-base has proven formidable in funding a number of GOP campaigns and gun deregulation efforts.
One reason Johnston cited for not supporting Graham’s bill was that it uses an “entirely different test” than the one Justice Clarence Thomas used in the Bruen decision and the one Justice Antonin Scalia used in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, a 2008 case that found the Constitution protects a person’s right to keep a gun in their home for self-defense.
“But certainly this bill in its current state is not a thorough enough interpretation for the codification of” the Supreme Court’s gun precedents, he said.
Source: Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner