What Are Amy Coney Barrett’s Views on Gun Rights & the Second Amendment?

Amy Coney Barrett's views on gun rights

Amy Coney Barett confirmation hearing screenshot What are Amy Coney Barrett's views on gun rights?

If Amy Coney Barrett joins the Supreme Court, how will this affect gun rights and rulings on the Second Amendment? Here’s what we know so far about Barrett’s viewpoints.

Barrett only became a judge in October 2017, so she has quite a few rulings to review, but not a substantial number that indicates her views on gun rights and the Second Amendment. She’s known to be a conservative in her viewpoints. She was confirmed as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on October 31, 2017. Prior to that, she was a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame from 2002 to 2017 and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.


She Believes that Legislatures Can Prevent Dangerous Felons from Owning Guns, but This Shouldn’t Automatically Apply to All Felons

In Kanter v. Barr, Rickey I. Kanter argued that the Second Amendment did not allow federal and state laws to prevent him from owning a gun even though he was a convicted felon. Barrett dissented on the ruling. She concluded that the Second Amendment gives legislatures room to prohibit dangerous people from possessing their guns, but it doesn’t automatically apply to felons, National Review reported.

She wrote, in part:

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.

18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and 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…

…the legislature may disarm those who have demonstrated a proclivity for violence or whose possession of guns would otherwise threaten the public safety. This is a category simultaneously broader and narrower than “felons”—it includes dangerous people who have not been convicted of felonies but not felons lacking indicia of dangerousness…

…In sum, founding-era legislatures categorically disarmed groups whom they judged to be a threat to the public safety. But neither the convention proposals nor historical practice supports a legislative power to categorically disarm felons because of their status as felons…

…If the Second Amendment were subject to a virtue limitation, there would be no need for the government to produce—or for the court to assess—evidence that nonviolent felons have a propensity for dangerous behavior. But Heller forecloses the “civic right” argument on which a virtue limitation depends.And while both Wisconsin and the United States have an unquestionably strong interest in protecting the public from gun violence, they have failed to show, by either logic or data, cf. Skoien, 614 F.3d at 642, that disarming Kanter substantially advances that interest. On this record, holding that the ban is constitutional as applied to Kanter does not “put[] the government through its paces,” see Williams, 616 F.3d at 692, but instead treats the Second Amendment as a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights 64 No. 18-1478 guarantees,” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 780 (2010) (plurality opinion). I therefore dissent.

The Second Amendment Foundation reacted positively to Trump’s potential nominees in 2018, including Barrett. The Foundation said that all the nominees look “very promising.” Founder Alan M. Gottlieb told Free Beacon: “At this point, it appears that Donald Trump is fulfilling his commitment to bring balance to the federal courts by nominating judges who adhere to the Constitution rather than try to reinvent it to fit their own political agendas.”

However, others think that she may not be quite as conservative in all her rulings as suspected. Dallas News reported that during her Senate confirmation to a federal appeals court, she was supported by all three Republicans and all three Democrats.


Her Husband, Jessee Barrett, Is a Former Federal Prosecutor Who Handled Cases Related to Guns

Amy Coney Barrett’s husband, Jesse Barrett, is a former federal prosecutor and handled a number of cases related to guns. Jesse Barrett was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. In his career, he handled cases involving felons who possessed firearms.

One press release from the U.S. Department of Justice said, “David Rodriguez, 32, of Elkhart, Indiana pled guilty to the felony offense of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The magistrate judge is recommending that the district court accept the tendered guilty plea. Parties have 14 days in which to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Sentencing has been set for November 10, 2014. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jesse Barrett.”

But since this is part of his job, it really can’t give us an indication on his personal viewpoints or Amy Coney Barrett’s. Today, Jesse Barret is a prosecutor based in South Bend, Indiana, according to his LinkedIn page.

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