Brett Kavanaugh: ‘Semiautomatic Rifles Are Constitutionally Protected’

Ryan Houston/Getty Images
Ryan Houston/Getty Images

In 2011, D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh used a dissenting opinion to explain that semiautomatic handguns and rifles are “commonly-owned” and therefore constitutionally protected.

His dissent came in Heller v. District of Columbia (2011), which was a suit challenging firearm regulations adopted in D.C. in the aftermath of the seminal District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).

Kavanaugh wrote:

In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns – the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic – are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semiautomatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semiautomatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are. It follows from Heller’s protection of semi-automatic handguns that semi-automatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional.

On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to serve as the next justice of the Supreme Court.

This nomination, like the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch in January 2017, is a fulfillment of Trump’s promise to the use SCOTUS nominations to save the Second Amendment.

During an October 9, 2016, presidential debate, Trump told the American people that his SCOTUS picks would “respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for, and what it represents.”

He specifically said: “I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice [Antonin] Scalia. … People that will respect the constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important — also, the Second Amendment which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton.”

He made good on these pledges with Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh appears to be another Second Amendment stalwart.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at Sign up to get Down Range at


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