An alleged sexual assault from 36 years ago is not why Democrats and the mainstream media are doing all they can to stop a confirmation vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. It all really comes down to future U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including potential Second Amendment cases.
During Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was then sitting on the letter from Christine Blasey Ford, asked Kavanaugh why he ruled that modern sporting rifles (she used the opaque political term “assault weapon”) were in common use and therefore are protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“Again this is all about precedent for me, trying to read exactly what the Supreme Court said,” said Kavanaugh. “And if you read the McDonald case, and I concluded that it could not be distinguished as a matter of law that semi-automatic rifles from semi-automatic handguns, and semi-automatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States. There are millions and millions and millions of semi-automatic rifles that are possessed. So that seemed to fit common use and not be a dangerous and unusual weapon.”
Feinstein pushed back by saying, “You’re saying the numbers determine the common use? Common use is an activity. It’s not common storage or possession. It’s use. So what you said is these weapons are commonly used. They’re not.”
“They’re commonly possessed in the United States, Senator, and they are used and possessed,’” said Kavanaugh.
Oddly, Feinstein seems to think that the millions of Americans who own these firearms don’t shoot them. She is very probably wrong. Actually, I run into the gravity of this issue every time I go to one of my local gun ranges in New York state.
A lot of gun owners I know are technically participating in criminal behavior. They don’t have felonies on their records, but they are committing felonies according to state law. These people have unregistered modern sporting rifles (mostly AR-15s). In 2013, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo rushed through the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, a law that passed a long list of gun controls, one of which banned the sale of these popular rifles and made it mandatory for New York residents to register their modern sporting rifles they already owned with the state before a deadline.
According to the state of New York just 23,847 residents registered their so-called “assault weapons” by the deadline. These people registered a total of 44,485 firearms, a small percentage of the total. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, estimates that about a million New York residents own such firearms, so 950,000 or so New Yorkers didn’t register their modern sporting rifles. If they still have them they are now engaging in criminal behavior.
This turned average, and presumably otherwise law-abiding citizens, into a class of people living beyond the law. Many gun owners who’ve chosen to own one or more of these popular rifles in Connecticut and Maryland have also found themselves in a similar situation.
Whether they’ll continue to live outside the law is a question the U.S. Supreme Court will one day have to answer. This is why Feinstein was concentrating on the phrase “in common use.” This is the phrase the Supreme Court justices who wrote the majority decision in Heller v. the District of Columbia. (2008) used when deciding which firearms are protected by the Second Amendment.
If modern sporting rifles are in common use, as Kavanaugh has previously ruled by following the Supreme Court precedent, then Kavanaugh, if given the chance on the high court, would likely vote to strike down bans on these popular rifles in New York, Connecticut and Maryland.
These rifles are clearly in common use. The NSSF compiled figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and found that, as of 2016, over 16 million of these firearms were owned by American citizens, which isn’t all that surprising, as the AR-15 has actually been sold to American citizens since the M16 (a full-automatic version of this rifle type) was first sold to the U.S. Armed Forces in 1963.
Even in 1963, the concept of a semi-automatic rifle was hardly a novelty. In the very early 20th century American gun makers like Remington, Winchester and Savage were making many popular semi-automatic rifle, shotgun and pistol designs that quickly became a big part of the American gun market.
Despite this obvious facts some recent lower court opinions, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, have recently ruled that states can ban modern sporting rifles because they are not in common use and for other reasons.
For this reason alone this is a question that must be answered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Feinstein knows this and she and other anti-Second Amendment-freedom Democrats don’t want Kavanaugh to have this chance to vote according to the facts on this issue.
Frank Miniter is a regular contributor to americas1stfreedom.org. His latest book is Spies in Congress—Inside the Democrats’ Covered-Up Cyber Scandal.