Amy Coney Barrett: Gun Rights Too Important to Be Taken Lightly

Amy Coney Barrett teaching a class at Notre Dame Law School. (Photo Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame)
Photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame

Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States, holds the Constitution and it’s Second Amendment predominate above the whims and inclinations of modernity.

She made her love of the constitution clear when nominated by Trump, saying, “I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution.”

She further provided a great degree of insight into her views on the Second Amendment via her dissent in the Kanter v. Barr (2019).  That case centered on non-violent felons and Second Amendment rights, and the viability of “felon dispossession statutes” in both federal and state law.

Plaintiff Rickey I. Kanter unsuccessfully contended in District Court that he ought not be forced to forfeit gun rights over a mail fraud conviction. He appealed his case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where he was unsuccessful once more, as the Seventh Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.

However, Barrett dissented from the Seventh Circuit’s majority, addressing the federal prohibition that bans all felons from firearm possession:

History is consistent with common sense: it demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns. But that power extends only to people who are dangerous. Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons. Nor have the parties introduced any evidence that founding-era legislatures imposed virtue-based restrictions on the right; such restrictions applied to civic rights like voting and jury service, not to individual rights like the right to possess a gun. In 1791 — and for well more than a century afterward — legislatures disqualified categories of people from the right to bear arms only when they judged that doing so was necessary to protect the public safety.

She then addressed Wisconsin’s statute on felons and firearms:

Wisconsin Statute § 941.29(1m) would stand on solid footing if their categorical bans were tailored to serve the governments’ undeniably compelling interest in protecting the public from gun violence. But their dispossession of all felons — both violent and nonviolent — is unconstitutional as applied to Kanter, who was convicted of mail fraud for falsely representing that his company’s therapeutic shoe inserts were Medicare-approved and billing Medicare accordingly. Neither Wisconsin nor the United States has introduced data sufficient to show that disarming all nonviolent felons substantially advances its interest in keeping the public safe.

In this area — felons and firearms — Barrett holds that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are only to be forfeited if the felon fits into a “dangerous category or bears individual markers of risk.”

Second Amendment Foundation President Massad Ayoob praised Barrett’s dissent in Kanter and what it portends for Second Amendment rights for future generations if she serves on the Supreme Court:

None of us citizens can possibly become experts on every issue facing America’s decision-makers, but most of us are deeply aware of the critical points in at least one issue, whether it is farm subsidies, health care, or in this case gun owners’ civil rights.  How those we elect (and those they appoint) assess and take positions on those issues well-known to us tells us whether or not we can trust them and their staffs to analyze all other matters and make the right decisions.  In the matter of gun owners’ civil rights, both President Trump and Judge Barrett ‘pass the litmus test.’

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa 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 at You can sign up to get Down Range at


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