For Gun Owners Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Nomination Is On-Target

Guns and Gear | Contributor

By Larry Keane

President Donald Trump has nominated a judge to the U.S. Supreme Court who will interpret the U.S. Constitution as it is written and respect our Second Amendment freedoms.

President Trump told the nation in the moments leading up to the nomination announcement that he sought a jurist who didn’t rely on political ideals or personal views, but one who would be a faithful servant of the Constitution, much like his nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who replaced the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The president’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, received quick backing from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Judge Kavanaugh And Heller

We are confident that gun owners will find their right to keep and bear arms will remain secure and that the firearms industry’s conduct of the lawful commerce in arms will be safeguarded with Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Defenders of the Second Amendment need only to look to Judge Kavanaugh’s record on the bench to see where he stands on gun rights.  In litigation following the landmark D.C. v. Heller, the 2008 decision in which Justice Scalia authored the majority opinion recognizing the individual right to keep and bear arms, a panel of the D.C. Circuit upheld a ban on most semiautomatic firearms in the District and a firearms registration requirement. Judge Kavanaugh dissented.

Firearms In Common Use Are Constitutional

Judge Kavanaugh argued the 2008 Heller decision protected semiautomatic firearms, like modern sporting rifles, as they are in common use for self-defense in the home, for hunting and other lawful use. He added they weren’t traditionally banned and there is “no persuasive constitutional distinction” between semiautomatic rifles and handguns. Judge Kavanaugh took note in his dissent that the majority of violent crimes committed with firearms are done with handguns, not the rifles the District banned. Judge Kavanaugh wrote:

D.C.’s registration requirement, which is significantly more stringent than any other federal or state gun law in the United States, is likewise unconstitutional. Heller and later McDonald said that regulations on the sale, possession, or use of guns are permissible if they are within the class of traditional, “longstanding” gun regulations in the United States. Registration of all lawfully possessed guns – as distinct from licensing of gun owners or mandatory recordkeeping by gun sellers – has not traditionally been required in the United States and even today remains highly unusual. Under Heller’s history- and tradition-based test, D.C.’s registration requirement is therefore unconstitutional.

Judge Kavanaugh criticized the District’s list of banned firearms, based on specific models and certain criteria, including detachable magazines or any of six prohibited features, including an adjustable stock, pistol grip or flash suppressor. The ban effectively criminalized the possession of modern sporting rifles.

“The list appears to be haphazard,” Kavanaugh wrote in his dissent. “It bans certain semi-automatic rifles but not others — with no particular explanation or rationale for why some made the list and some did not.”

An Originalist

Like Justice Gorsuch and Justice Scalia before him, Judge Kavanaugh is hailed as an originalist, who relies on the text of the law as it is written.  Nothing demonstrates his legal acumen more clearly than the fact the U.S. Supreme Court adopted Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions 11 times in his 12 years on the bench. He also co-authored a book on judicial precedent with Justice Gorsuch.

At the White House Monday night, Judge Kavanaugh laid out his belief that an independent judiciary is beholden to only the law as written.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law,” he said from the White House East Room. “A judge must interpret statutes as written, and a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Judge Kavanaugh is the next associate justice the nation needs.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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