Kavanaugh seems to shun gun registration laws, but may not oppose license training requirements
Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Photo by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
If appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh could be less hospitable to gun regulation—and more likely to vote in favor of cert grants on gun cases—than the man he would replace, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, the landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case that held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun apart from service in a militia, Kennedy joined the majority, but he reportedly insisted that the finding include language endorsing some regulation, including banning guns from government buildings, according to National Public Radio.
In a 2011 Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia finding for the case known as Heller II—which challenged a District of Columbia gun regulation ordinance following the U.S. Supreme Court case, and was brought by the same plaintiff—Kavanaugh wrote in his dissent that people can keep most guns, including AR-15 rifles, the Associated Press reports.
However, Kavanaugh also wrote that gun licensing requirements could promote firearm safety, by mandating tests and setting standards for obtaining a gun license, notes David Kopel in a piece for the Volokh Conspiracy.
“Licensing requirements mandate that gun owners meet certain standards or pass certain tests before owning guns or using them in particular ways. Those laws can advance gun safety by ensuring that owners understand how to handle guns safely, particularly before guns are carried in public,” Kavanaugh wrote.
His dissent stated that registration requirements were different than licensing requirements, in that registration rules don’t ensure owners know how to use guns safely in the same way licensing requirements can.
Kavanaugh has a more detailed record on gun control findings than any other U.S. Supreme Court nominee, according to Kopel, research director with the Independence Institute, a conservative nonprofit.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s text, history, and tradition methodology for Second Amendment cases will not please people who believe that all gun control is impermissible, nor will it please advocates who want to make the Second Amendment a second-class right,” Kopel wrote.
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