I got one of those big postcard-like, political advertisements in the mail a couple of days ago urging me to support Roy Blunt if I valued my Second Amendment rights. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), dubbed by The Atlantic the “other” gun lobby, paid for this mailer. It’s remarkable because it doesn’t even mention Blunt’s actual opponent, Jason Kander, by name. The NSSF wants us to vote for Blunt because Hillary is scary.
On the mailer a picture of a grimacing Hillary Clinton, pointing a disciplinary forefinger, mouth open in mid-shout, is positioned above a quote proclaiming her belief that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” and promising to pursue the issue “every chance I get.” Juxtaposed to that picture is one of a serene Roy Blunt, smiling in a way that manages to be both smarmy and evocative of a Howdy Doody doll at the same time. He is quoted to the effect that he will protect Second Amendment rights “by working to block anti-gun nominees to the Supreme Court.”
Is this true? And what about Jason Kander?
As far as the mailer’s claims about Hillary Clinton go, The Washington Post notes that:
… Ms. Clinton does not appear to be interested in pressing a radical re-interpretation of the Second Amendment. “Gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities,” her fact sheet on gun policy declares. She has endorsed a balance between upholding Americans’ constitutionally protected access to firearms and enacting rudimentary safety measures. What kinds of safety measures? The sorts that, polling indicates, most Americans support.
Would her Supreme Court nominees endorse a narrower interpretation of Second Amendment rights than the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling? Possibly. Possibly not. I doubt she would impose a “guns litmus test.” Nor would she need to do so in order to achieve her goals. The Heller ruling as it stands opens the door to the types of regulation that Clinton and many Americans support:
The Supreme Court stated, however, that the Second Amendment should not be understood as conferring a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The Court provided examples of laws it considered “presumptively lawful,” including those which:
- Prohibit firearm possession by felons and the mentally ill;
- Forbid firearm possession in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings; and
- Impose conditions on the commercial sale of firearms.
The Court noted that this list is not exhaustive, and concluded that the Second Amendment is also consistent with laws banning “dangerous and unusual weapons” not in common use at the time, such as M-16 rifles and other firearms that are most useful in military service. In addition, the Court declared that its analysis should not be read to suggest “the invalidity of laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents.”
As for Jason Kander, Blunt’s actual opponent, to my knowledge he hasn’t spoken about whether or not he would impose any kind of guns-litmus test on Supreme Court nominees. But, in a recent TV commercial he established his gun bona fides, quickly assembling an AR-15 while blindfolded and asserting that:
Sen. Blunt has been attacking me on guns. Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle. In Afghanistan, I volunteered to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs. And in the State Legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks, so the terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”
So what are we hearing from Kander? Support for Second Amendment rights along with a sprinkling of common sense? Sounds okay to me although perhaps a little too gun friendly for my personal taste.
And what about Roy Blunt, the NSSF’s designated savior of an imaginary Second Amendment right to freedom from any and all regulation of potentially dangerous weapons? Would Roy Blunt vote only for Supreme Curt nominees that passed the gun lobby litmus test? Probably. He gets paid well by the lobby to do just that. He is, for example, the top congressional recipient of goodies from the NRA, and the mailer in my hands right now attests to the the support he is getting from the NSSF.
Gun regulation is a complex issue. Do you really trust a gun lobby shill to put your welfare first? And, if you really love guns, ask yourself, can Roy Blunt assemble an AR-15 blindfolded? At all? And does he really give a damn one way or another once he’s gotten his pay-check?
*1st paragraph slightly edited; last four words of last sentence deleted (10/1; 7:03 pm)..