President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is being greeted with enthusiasm by Second Amendment organizations, while Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun groups are already attacking the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge for what they describe as her “extreme positions” on the Second Amendment.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action released a statement shortly after Trump’s official announcement applauding the president for his pick and urging the Senate to “act swiftly to confirm her.”
Judge Barrett’s record demonstrates a steadfast commitment to the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. With this nomination, President Trump continues his record of nominating qualified, fair-minded federal judges who respect the Bill of Rights – including the Second Amendment – to our nation’s highest court.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the trade organization for the firearms industry, is sounding its support for Barrett’s nomination as well.
“We are pleased to lend our support to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to approve her nomination as expeditiously as possible,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “We are confident Judge Barrett will serve our nation with distinction as an Associate Justice of our nation’s highest court and her service will reaffirm the importance of originalist jurists when protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”
With pro-2A groups are supporting Barrett’s nomination, gun control groups are already launching their first attacks against Barrett, with Everytown for Gun Safety president John Feinblatt calling the judge “a gun rights extremist who has no place on the Supreme Court.”
“Amy Coney Barrett’s alarming interpretation of the Second Amendment would make her an ideal Supreme Court Justice for the NRA, but a terrible one for the safety of the American people,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Giving her a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court will make us all less safe, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters is going to fight like hell to stop that from happening.”
Everytown is centering its criticism of Barrett around a dissenting opinion in a case involving a convicted felon who argued that his Second Amendment rights were being violated by federal and Wisconsin state law because of the prohibition on felons owning firearms. As the anti-gun group puts it:
In a 2019 dissent, which is highlighted in Everytown’s memo, Judge Barrett wrote that people convicted of serious felonies should be allowed to possess guns and endorsed a dangerous and largely historical approach to Second Amendment analysis –– similar to one used by Justice Kavanaugh and other opponents of strong gun safety laws –– that could put many important gun laws at risk. These beliefs are a clear warning sign that if confirmed, she will likely side with gun lobby extremists and reject reasonable gun safety measures.
Here are the actual facts in the case. Rickey Kanter had pled guilty to one count of mail fraud for selling footwear inserts that weren’t compliant with Medicare, and receiving more than $300,000 in Medicare reimbursements for the fraudulent footwear. Kanter was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for the non-violent offense, but as a convicted felon, he also lost his right to keep and bear arms for life.
While the three judge panel that heard the case ultimately upheld the prohibition, Barrett dissented, arguing that while the Second Amendment allows for dangerous felons to be prohibited from owning firearms, there’s nothing in the historical record to suggest that the Founders intended every convicted felon, including those convicted of non-violent offenses, to categorically be stripped of their Second Amendment rights.
Based on her extensive marshalling and analysis of the historical evidence, Judge Barrett concludes that the Second Amendment leaves legislatures the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns but that felons do not lose their Second Amendment rights solely because of their status as felons. The federal government and the state of Wisconsin failed to show that disarming all nonviolent felons is carefully tailored to the goal of protecting public safety, nor did they show that mail fraud is substantially related to violent behavior. They also failed to demonstrate that anything else in Kanter’s history or characteristics made him likely to misuse firearms. Therefore, they could not bar him from possessing a firearm.
In an ironic twist, Everytown founder and chief funder Michael Bloomberg is currently spending tens of millions of dollars in the state of Florida to restore the right to vote to tens of thousands of hand-picked felons (including some convicted of crimes of violence) in an attempt to swing the state to Joe Biden on Election Day. The gun control groups are fine with violent felons having their right to vote restored in order to vote for the Democratic ticket, but object to non-violent felons ever being able to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
At a time when the Biden/Harris campaign is calling for “reimagining” the criminal justice system to provide more fairness and equitable outcomes, gun control activists are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo when it comes to barring even non-violent felons from the full restoration of their rights. I suspect that their argument won’t sway too many Republican senators, but it should be a reminder to Democrats that gun control and the move to overhaul the criminal justice system are fundamentally at odds with each other.