If there were any doubts as to what Hillary Clinton would like to see the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution look like eventually, they were clarified during the final presidential debate. It’s not pretty.
Moderator Chris Wallace noted to Clinton that in the Heller case in 2008, the Supreme Court found “there is a constitutional right to bear arms, but a right that is reasonably limited. … What’s wrong with that?” Clinton said the District of Columbia, with its law that got struck down by the court, was simply trying to “protect toddlers from guns.”
“And so they wanted people with guns to safely store them,” she said. “And the court did not accept that reasonable regulation but they’ve accepted many others.”
Not many people would argue with the idea of trying to protect children from harming themselves or others with guns. However, the D.C. law went much further than that. To comply with the law, residents had to keep their guns unloaded, with a trigger lock in place or with the gun disassembled at all times — essentially useless. The police chief could award temporary licenses, but the case was brought by one of his own officers who wasn’t allowed to register his handgun to be kept at home.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, said few laws “in the history of our nation” had come close to matching the D.C. restrictions. And as Curt Levy, a constitutional law attorney and president of the Committee for Justice, noted on Fox News’ website, even the four justices who dissented didn’t lean on the argument that the law was about saving kids. Of their 800 words, those justices “included only a brief reference to ‘children under the age of 14,'” Levy wrote.
Donald Trump’s rebuttal to Clinton’s argument was one of his better moments in the debate. He pointed out that Clinton was “very angry” about the court’s ruling (she acknowledged she was upset by it), and that Chicago continues to be wracked by gun violence despite having the toughest gun laws in the country. He also vowed to appoint justices that “will not do damage to the Second Amendment.”
It’s a sure thing that Clinton, on the other hand, would do the opposite. The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman made the point Sunday that Clinton’s views on gun rights are to the left even of Barack Obama, who throughout his presidency has pushed for universal background checks on gun purchases and a ban on “assault weapons,” among other things. Yet Obama had no problem with the Heller decision.
It’s fair to assume the four Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court would be on board with overruling Heller (three of the four said as much in their dissents in a 2010 case). A Clinton appointee to the court would almost certainly have to share her views on gun control.
Levy suggested that if she wanted to win some Second Amendment supporters on Election Day, Clinton could “dramatically demonstrate the sincerity of her debate claim” that she supports an individual right to bear arms, and pledge to “select for the Supreme Court only nominees who make clear that they share her belief and will vote accordingly.”
We won’t hold our breath waiting for that to happen.
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