‘You Want To Pack The Supreme Court’: Debate Over Gun Rights For 18-Year-Olds Devolves Into Shouting Match

Screenshot via C-SPAN

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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An exchange between Republican North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop and Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline during the House Judiciary Committee’s Thursday hearing on gun control grew heated over a bill provision stripping young adults of their rights to purchase certain firearms.

Democrats scheduled the emergency hearing in the aftermath of mass shootings committed by 18-year-olds in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. They will mark-up and vote on the Protect Our Kids Act, introduced by New York Rep. and committee chairman Jerrold Nadler. Even if it passes the House in a party-line vote, the bill is not expected to pass the Senate, where a bipartisan group is working on other legislation.

The Protect Our Kids Act would prohibit individuals under the age of 21 from purchasing several types of semi-automatic rifles, require gun owners to store weapons using gun safes or other devices and expand regulation of bump stocks. (RELATED: Senate Democrats, Republicans Meet To Focus On Gun Violence)

However, as Bishop noted, all three key provisions have faced legal challenges, with the first two ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.


“When we undertake to ‘do something,’ in the words of the gentlelady from Texas, isn’t it incumbent on the House Judiciary Committee to consider, to evaluate, what the Constitution allows Congress to do, consistent with the supreme law of the land? So at least two parts of this proposed hodge-podge raise questions about the constitutionality, the ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns to 18-20-year-olds and also the provision about gun storage at home. Heller by the U.S. Supreme Court spoke to that,” Bishop said.

“There’s a willingness to just ram through this package, and the answer is, ‘we don’t have any patience for you,’ and the voices are raised, the accusations are made, Republicans are complicit. I can tell you this, and let me be clear, you are not going to bully your way into stripping Americans of fundamental rights,” he continued. “You don’t care. You’re cavalier about the leak of the draft opinion from the Supreme Court, because you want to pack the Supreme Court.”

Cicilline interrupted, claiming that Bishop mischaracterized the ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals related to age limits.

“If the gentleman would yield, I’d be happy to answer your question,” he said.

“I think I’ve answered the question,” Bishop responded.

“Not accurately,” Cicilline shot back.

“I’m actually bound by the Supreme Court of the U.S., and I’d like to read the quote to you, if you’ll allow me because you raised the question,” he continued. “The U.S. Supreme Court takes precedence over the Ninth Circuit.”

“I don’t yield, you’ll have plenty of time,” Bishop responded.