Let me state right up front that I don’t think this is going to effect the vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. In fact, today’s stunt with Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse alongside a bevy of anti-gun groups was the political equivalent of a toddler stomping their feet as opposed to a genuinely serious effort to convince senators to change their minds on confirmation. Barrett is almost certain to become the newest member of SCOTUS next week, but in the meantime anti-gun groups and politicians will take advantage of circumstances for a little bit of pre-election grandstanding.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called out the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday for working to reshape the federal judiciary while Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court advances in the Senate.
The Democrats were joined by gun violence advocacy groups Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady and March for Our Lives to discuss a new report led by Blumenthal that details the gun industry’s funding of judges in lower courts and now for Barrett.
“This report shows how beholden Republicans have become to the NRA, how corrupt the funneling of money has become, how there is coordination between consultants and media groups used by the NRA and Republican candidates and especially the Trump campaign. We believe that the public should be aware of this alarming campaign to capture the courts and it will have effect on American justice,” Blumenthal said on a press call on Friday.
It’s incredibly amusing to me to see Blumenthal complaining about the Republican lawmakers being “beholden” to the NRA when anti-gun activists like Michael Bloomberg are spending hundreds of millions of dollars this cycle to elect pro-gun control candidates. Bloomberg himself is dropping $100-million just in Florida in an attempt to get the state to go for Joe Biden, and Democrats from the presidential candidate to those running for state House and Senate seats have been the beneficiaries of a flood of campaign cash from gun control groups.
Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and the anti-gun groups are trying to make it seem incredibly nefarious that a pro-Second Amendment organization is working to ensure that the Second Amendment is secure.
He added that the report found that the NRA has funneled money from a collection of dark money groups, blocked state legislation and legislation in Congress for gun safety and launched a campaign to strike down legislation through the courts.
The NRA has sought to reshape the courts with “an extreme, radical view of the Second Amendment,” Blumenthal said.
Whitehouse called the NRA’s efforts “unpatriotic and inappropriate.”
“Dark money groups” sounds awfully scary, doesn’t it? Of course, if Blumenthal was really bothered by political action committees that don’t have to reveal their donors (which is what “dark money” means), he probably wouldn’t have stood on stage with Shannon Watts from the Bloomberg-funded group Moms Demand Action. After all, the sugar daddy of the gun control movement has a “dark money group” all his own, and even Moms Demand Action itself has a political action committee.
Take away the scary phrase, and you’re left with Blumenthal complaining that the NRA works to defeat gun control bills before they become law and challenges them in court once they’ve taken effect. Sheldon Whitehouse calls that “unpatriotic and inappropriate,” but most of us would call it exercising our civic duties.
What’s more, every one of the gun control groups represented on stage with Blumenthal and Whitehouse lobby against pro-Second Amendment bills, and Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords both have in-house law firms that work directly with cities and states to both challenge existing Second Amendment protections like firearms preemption statutes, and defend localities or states that are sued over their anti-gun ordinances or laws.
In the view of Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse, lobbying and litigation efforts are fine as long as it’s to support gun control efforts. Doing the same in defense of the right to keep and bear arms, however, is “unpatriotic.”
Personally, I think it’s much more unpatriotic to try to strip Americans of their constitutionally protected rights. I think it’s unpatriotic to try to portray millions of Americans who are standing up for their rights as acting inappropriately, and I think it’s dishonest and despicable to try to portray an organization as acting in some shady manner when you’re standing next to representatives of groups that do the exact same things.
Ultimately today’s stunt won’t stop Amy Coney Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court or the NRA from continuing to advocate, lobby, and litigate in support of the right to keep and bear arms. It simply revealed once again the hollowness of the gun control argument and the shamelessness of the anti-gun politicians who espouse it.