Bozelko column: SCOTUS nominee’s dissent on guns for felons deserves more attention

Bozelko column: SCOTUS nominee’s dissent on guns for felons deserves more attention

More Content Now Columns share an author’s personal perspective. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s dissent in the 2019 case Kanter v. Barr, an opinion in which she held that people with criminal records for non-violent crimes who haven’t been deemed dangerous should be allowed to possess guns, hasn’t received as much attention in her confirmation hearings as I expected. Prior to the proceedings before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, both of my state’s senators sought to malign her for this point. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Tweeted Oct. 8 that Barrett’s a “blinking red outlier” on her interpretation of the Second Amendment, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal called her “extreme on this issue.” Gun control advocacy organizations said they’re similarly suspicious. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) questioned Barrett on the Kanter case but didn’t really drill down on the substance of the text. Democratic senators consider Barrett’s position – that felony convictions and loss of all rights shouldn’t “go hand in hand,” a point I consider a mainstay of progressive criminal justice reform – fringe. Keeping a gun out of the hands of a person with a felony conviction is often justified; Barrett’s dissent doesn’t deny that. Rather her take said that the courts, and not the legislature, should determine policy on who is appropriate for gun ownership. We usually don’t expect policy solutions from the bench, but we have one here. Historically, legislatures have been very – perhaps overly – receptive to National Rifle Association influence and unwilling to keep […]

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