With Justice Brett Kavanaugh now on the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump continues making good on his pledge to use Supreme Court nominations to save the Second Amendment from “people like Hillary Clinton.”
During an October 9, 2016, presidential debate, Trump said, “I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia. … People that will respect the Constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important–also, the Second Amendment, which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton.”
Trump made clear that his Supreme Court picks will “respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for, and what it represents.”
Trump has fulfilled these promises by giving us Justice Neil Gorsuch, confirmed April 7, 2017, and Brett Kavanaugh, confirmed October 6, 2018.
Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are guided by the seminal decision in District of Columbia v Heller (2008).
During confirmation hearings, Gorsuch referenced Heller in describing the approach to ruling on the constitutional protections of specific types of guns, saying:
Heller makes clear that we judges are to apply. The question is whether it’s a gun in common use, for self-defense–and that may be subject to reasonable regulation. That’s the test as I understand it. There’s lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify under those standards. And I can’t pre-judge that litigation sitting here.
Kavanaugh also referenced Heller’s “common use” phraseology during this confirmation, explaining that AR-15s and similar semiautomatic rifles are in “common use” because widely possessed. Kavanaugh differentiated between “dangerous and unusual weapons” versus weapons widely possessed for hunting and self-defense, saying, “Semiautomatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States. There are millions and millions and millions of semiautomatic rifles that are possessed, so that seemed to fit common use and not be a dangerous and unusual weapon.”
The NRA responded to Kavanaugh’s conformation by tweeting: “The NRA congratulates Brett Kavanaugh on his confirmation to SCOTUS. Kavanaugh is an eminently qualified jurist who will interpret the Constitution as the framers intended. He respects our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”