Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (CT) predicted a “popular revolt” if the Supreme Court stops “universal background checks” and a ban on so-called “assault weapons” from becoming the law of the land.
Murphy appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend (see video above).
Host Chuck Todd asked Murphy about his continuing involvement in gun control legislation, a stance that has been met with opposition from certain district courts.
“It does sound like you have to do it within the construct of look, you will probably not be able to regulate much having to do with access to the gun by anybody over 18,” Todd noted.
Todd was referencing a recent decision by Judge Robert Payne, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Payne struck down a federal law that prohibits handgun sales to adults under 21.
“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand,” Payne wrote in his decision.
Murphy responded with a stark warning: “If the Supreme Court eventually says that states or the Congress can’t pass universal background checks or can’t take these assault weapons off the streets, I think there will be a popular revolt over that policy.”
“A court that’s already pretty illegitimate and is going to be in full crisis mode,” he added.
Todd pressed further, asking how gun legislation should be approached under the present conditions: “Do you go for a constitutional amendment, or do you just hope judges’ philosophies change over the next generation?”
Despite the uphill battle, Murphy expressed optimism that Dems will be able to get the job done.
“Right now, the Supreme Court has made it clear under the Heller decision, which still controls, they say there is a right to private gun ownership, but there’s also an ability for Congress to legislate who owns weapons and what kind of weapons are owned,” he stated. “I think we need to operate under that construct, and I really see progress.”
Murphy acknowledged the concern surrounding the decisions of district courts on this issue but emphasized the importance of focusing on the broader movement.
“Does it worry me what some of these district courts are doing? Absolutely, but right now our focus has to be on growing the movement and continuing to capitalize on the progress made last year,” he concluded.
Whether Murphy likes it or not, as is the case with purchase restrictions for adults under 21, banning firearms “in common use” (per Heller) does fit with the “nation’s history and tradition” (per Bruen).
Keep in mind that there are at least 24 million modern sporting rifles in civilian hands, according to the NSSF, the firearms industry trade association. Given those numbers, AR-pattern rifles are in common use.
As Stephen Halbrook from the Independent Institute reminds us:
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects “arms ‘in common use at the time’ for lawful purposes like self-defense” and arms that are “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” Such arms are “chosen by American society,” not the government.
A widespread prohibition on this class of firearms would be unconstitutional. There’s little doubt that the high court, as currently constructed, would block an “assault weapon” ban.
If a “popular revolt” were to occur as a result it’d be because those who are revolting don’t understand the Constitution. Or, because they’ve been fed a bill of goods from politicians — like Mr. Murphy — who want to disarm America.