Gun Laws & Legislation

‘Not A Gun Expert’: Biden Judicial Nominee Self-Destructs When John Kennedy Asks Her To Define ‘Assault Weapon’


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United States District Judge Nancy Maldonado of the Northern District of Illinois struggled to respond when asked by Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana to define the term “assault weapons” during a Wednesday confirmation hearing.

Maldonado, nominated by President Joe Biden for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, signed a brief defending a ban on “assault weapons” that was challenged in Illinois state courts in the 2010s, according to Kennedy cited from her writings when asking her if she could define what an “assault weapon” was. (RELATED: ‘Unjustified And Unconstitutional’: Senate Republicans Block ‘Bumper Sticker Slogan’ Semi-Auto Ban)

“You said, ‘assault weapons may be banned because they’re extraordinarily dangerous and are not appropriate for legitimate self-defense purposes,’” Kennedy said. “Tell me what you meant by assault weapons.”


“Just to clarify there, I was local counsel,” Maldonado said, later claiming she did not write the brief Kennedy cited, but that she signed the brief due to a requirement from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court ultimately upheld the ban on the semiautomatic firearms in a 2012 ruling.

“Tell me what you meant by assault weapons,” Kennedy said.

“I am not a gun expert,” Maldonado responded.

Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana questions witnesses at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 12, 2023. Screenshot/Senate Judiciary Committee

“Assault weapons” is a euphemism that gun-control advocates use to gain support for banning certain semi-automatic firearms with features that provide a cosmetic similarity to firearms capable of fully-automatic operation. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated that over 24 million “modern sporting rifles,” which include the AR-15, are “in circulation” in a July 2022 release.

Rifles of any type were used in 541 killings in 2022, according to the FBI’s 2022 Uniform Crime Report Data Explorer. Knives were used in 1,630 killings and personal weapons (defined as hands, fists and feet) were used in 665 killings.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 19: US President Joe Biden speaks at Stupak Community Center on March 19, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Biden delivered remarks on making affordable housing more available for American families. (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

“So you submitted a brief, an appellate brief, you signed it, and you don’t know and… you said abolish assault weapons, and you don’t know what you wanted them to abolish?” Kennedy asked.

“I was not responsible for researching the content,” Maldonado said.

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