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Key Exchanges on Second Amendment Reveal Why the Senate Should Reject Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Nomination

As the Senate Judiciary Committee wraps up its hearing for President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, there were several must-watch exchanges on firearms and the Second Amendment that illustrate why Judge Kavanaugh should not be confirmed.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Judge Kavanaugh’s dissent as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller II), in which Judge Kavanaugh concluded that Washington D.C.’s prohibition on assault weapons is barred by the Second Amendment. Judge Kavanaugh claimed he followed precedent when he voted to strike down the law, even though every federal circuit court to consider assault weapons prohibitions, even his Republican-appointed D.C. Circuit colleagues, has upheld them. WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

Later, Sen. Feinstein asked Judge Kavanaugh about the role assault weapons have played in school shootings; instead of answering the question, he pivoted to measures schools are taking to become “hardened”—a rhetorical and policy pivot ripped straight from the NRA playbook. WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also questioned Judge Kavanaugh’s Heller II dissent, in which Judge Kavanaugh rationalized his vote to strike down D.C.’s assault weapons prohibition by saying that assault weapons were in “common use.” Sen. Blumenthal said, “If our standard is going to be whether assault weapons are in common use, we are going to have more and more of them. And they are in common use —they are commonly used to kill people. That’s what they were designed to do. So I want your explanation as to how possibly you can justify requiring that gun violence protection statutes have to be long standing or traditional, and that they cannot in any way protect people from weapons, assault weapons, that are, as you put it, in common use because they are in common use only because they are not in any way regulated for the public safety.” WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also questioned Judge Kavanaugh’s Heller II dissent, in which Judge Kavanaugh rationalized his vote to strike down D.C.’s assault weapons prohibition by saying that assault weapons were in “common use.” Sen. Blumenthal said, “If our standard is going to be whether assault weapons are in common use, we are going to have more and more of them. And they are in common use —they are commonly used to kill people. That’s what they were designed to do. So I want your explanation as to how possibly you can justify requiring that gun violence protection statutes have to be long standing or traditional, and that they cannot in any way protect people from weapons, assault weapons, that are, as you put it, in common use because they are in common use only because they are not in any way regulated for the public safety.” WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), bringing up the fact that his granddaughter had to practice active shooter drills in her first-grade classroom, raised Judge Kavanaugh’s “lonely voice” in respect to his interpretation of Heller:

“Now a lonely voice can connote that you are inspiring, insightful or brave. It might also connote that you’re just plain wrong. And in this situation, it’s a life or death test. Whether it’s an assault weapon or the person who can buy it or use it, I need to know from you— how you can reconcile your position with your opening statement to this committee? Do you remember what you told us? ‘The rule of common-sense, the rule of common-sense suggests to me, that you would not be a lone voice on an issue of life- and-death involving innocent Americans. Common-sense which would suggest that you would join with Justice Scalia and other federal courts who believe that scrutiny, which involves public safety, should be the test.”

“But wouldn’t the common-sense rule that you stressed in your opening statement, at a time when so many innocent people are being killed with guns, suggests that we ought to be mindful that the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact; we ought to make America safe and to find a construction of this which sets you apart from those who are looking to public safety as the standard, is a troubling thing. I’m sure that some groups— I’m not going to name names, you know who I’m talking about—applaud your position, but I would just state, that from the viewpoint of parents and families and people worried about gun safety, why do you put yourself aside from the mainstream of thinking on this?” WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

Finally, referencing the NRA’s seven-figure national and regional television ad buy in support of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Judge Kavanaugh, “Why do you think…the NRA is spending so much money to ensure that you get confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice?” WATCH THE EXCHANGE HERE.

More information on Judge Kavanaugh’s Second Amendment record is available here.
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