Following the March 3 GOP debate The Hill suggested that GOP contenders exceed Antonin Scalia in defending gun rights because Scalia left the door open for some limit on the Second Amendment, but Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio are pushing for none.
The Hill presents Scalia through a quote from the majority opinion in District of Columbia v Heller (2008). They seize on his acknowledgement that there can be a prohibition against “the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons'” and his judgement that the Second Amendment “does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”
Missing is the other side of Scalia’s words–that his contention was not about what the Second Amendment could disallow but what it protects. His shared dissent with with Justice Clarence Thomas in Arie S. Friedman v City Of Highland Park (2015) clearly shows that the Second Amendment protects weapons which Americans “commonly own for lawful purposes.” Breitbart News previously reported that Scalia joined Thomas in the conviction that this included AR-15s as certainly as it included 5-shot .38 Special revolvers.
The current GOP field of contenders–Cruz, Trump, and Rubio–reflected this same conviction with their answers during the GOP debate. Trump said there should be no restrictions on the Second Amendment; that it is crucial that the people maintain the ability to shoot back. Rubio contended that gun control limits the exercise of freedom on the part of law-abiding citizens without curtailing the behavior of criminals in the least and Cruz described not only why an “assault weapons” ban is wrong in principle, but also how empirical evidence shows the federal “assault weapons” ban (1994-2004) “was ineffective.”
The Hill points out that Cruz also warned that Scalia’s replacement must be someone who views the Second Amendment as Scalia did or else the constitutional protections on the right to keep and bear arms will be ripped to shreds.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.