An Important Turning Point For The Supreme Court And Our Second Amendment

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Tim Schmidt President, United States Concealed Carry Association
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Ten years ago, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled that the 2nd Amendment protected the right of individuals to have a gun for self-defense.

This ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller struck down an outrageous District of Columbia law that prohibited residents from keeping a handgun at home. It was landmark victory in support of our Constitutional freedoms and the rights of all Americans to protect themselves and their families.

However, since Heller in 2008, the Supreme Court has largely shied away from considering other important cases on gun rights. It takes the votes of four justices to hear a lower court appeal and five votes to issue a ruling. However, the suggestion has been that Justice Anthony Kennedy who has long been the key swing vote on the Court was not willing to go further on critical outstanding issues like constitutional carry and concealed carry reciprocity.

These missed opportunities have come despite strong dissents from Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed last year. In dissenting with a decision to turn away a challenge to a California state law that limits the ability of many law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm in public, both justices wrote that “the right to bear arms extends to public carry.”

Fortunately for supporters of the Second Amendment, all of this may soon change and Thomas, Gorsuch and others may soon have a critical reinforcement. With the President’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who will replace Kennedy if confirmed, there is renewed confidence that threats to the Second Amendment will not be left unchecked.

Over the course of his years on the bench, Judge Kavanaugh’s record suggests someone who is committed to safeguarding our liberties, especially when it comes to the right to bear arms. In 2011, for example, Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion on a case in the District of Columbia that ultimately ruled the D.C. government has the right to ban semi-automatic handguns. He argued that since most handguns made today are semi-automatic, this was an unfair way to block the 2008 ruling from D.C. vs. Heller. Kavanaugh wrote:

“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…. 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.”

Even though the handgun ban was upheld in that 2011 case, Kavanaugh established himself as being pro-Second Amendment, and a common-sense conservative who was able to see through a thinly-veiled attempt to keep District of Columbia residents from being able to protect themselves.

With the Second Amendment constantly under attack in this country, we need a Supreme Court that will honor the promises made in the Constitution. We should never forget that the United States is one of the few countries in the world where this right is expressly granted to citizens in our founding document.

Yet, it should surprise no one that Kavanaugh’s nomination has sent anti-gun liberal into a frenzy. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun rights group, Everytown for Gun Safety, is already spending a lot of money in an effort to mislead Americans on his record.

Fortunately, despite attacks from the left, he has tremendous support from those of us who respect and want to protect our Constitution. With his solid Second Amendment record, Kavanaugh will be an important addition to the Supreme Court bench and those who deeply value our Constitutional liberties should make their voices heard in support of his nomination.

Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.