Shootings and homicides have increased dramatically in Hartford, Connecticut this year, despite the state having some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country, but U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is claiming that if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Court, the state will become an even more dangerous place because many of those ineffective gun control laws would be declared unconstitutional as well.
Murphy, along with several state-based gun control groups, held a press conference Thursday morning in order to bash Barrett’s originalist judicial philosophy, claiming that with Barrett on the bench the state’s gun control laws are in jeopardy.
“We think it’s really important for people to know what is going to happen to violence rates all across this country if Amy Coney Barrett is put on the supreme court,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s news conference came as the capital city dealt with a surge in gun violence.
Since Friday, one person was killed and eight others hurt in shootings across the city.
Honestly, Murphy’s attacks on Barrett’s embrace of originalism have been downright moronic, but the Connecticut Democrat has had lots of company in claiming that the philosophy somehow involves returning society to its state of existence in 1787.
Women couldn’t vote.
Slavery was legal.
AR-15s and the internet and electric lights didn’t exist.
But originalism. https://t.co/RpMRHcmKSq
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 14, 2020
If originalism was only based on the original text of the Constitution, then Murphy wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Judges like Barrett wouldn’t look to the Second Amendment at all in their determinations, since the Second Amendment was part of the Bill of Rights ratified four years after the Constitution’s adoption.
Unfortunately for Murphy, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats who’ve been obtusely insisting that originalism would lock the country into the laws on the books in 1787, that’s not what the judicial philosophy entails.
Instead, originalism simply means that you look at the intent of the Constitution and its amendments as they were written and understood at the time, instead of trying to redefine the Constitution to suit your particular purpose. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 19th Amendment ensured the right of women to vote, and the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms. Under originalism, all of those amendments matter. In fact, they’re just as much a part of the Constitution as the parts that were ratified in 1787.
If you want to be an “originalist” in law, maybe you should go all the way. Cooking on a hearth. Leeches for medicine. An old mule for transportation. Or maybe you can recognize that the world changes.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) October 14, 2020
Originalists recognize that the world changes. In fact, they recognize that the Constitution can change as well. Unlike folks like Dan Rather and Chris Murphy, however, they also recognize that the way to change the Constitution is by amending it instead of simply trying to pretend that the Constitution now means something entirely different than what it meant last week.
It would be much easier for politicians across the political spectrum if they didn’t have to worry about the constitutionality of the laws that they pass. Fortunately for us the Constitution wasn’t designed solely to make life easy for politicians. It was designed, at least in part, to ensure that there were checks on government overreach and infringements on our individual rights.
As for the gun control laws that Murphy is worried won’t withstand constitutional scrutiny by the Supreme Court if Barrett is confirmed, he should really be asking himself what good they’re doing in the first place. In Hartford, shootings are up 43% compared to 2019, and local police say that criminals are emboldened by a police accountability bill recently signed by Gov. Ned Lamont.
“[The bill] is not allowing us to do our jobs, to be proactive police officers,” said Officer Anthony Fegaldi. “If you don’t have that element in your community, sometimes you can see some lawlessness as we’re seeing right now.”
“To suggest the violence we are seeing because the men and women of the Hartford Police Department aren’t doing their job does a disservice to those who are out there working hard every day,” Mayor Bronin said.
Mayor Bronin also said that the police department has made great strides when it comes to solving homicides and taking illegal guns off the street, and argues that doesn’t show a police department who is taking a back seat.
If Connecticut’s ban on so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines were ever declared unconstitutional, I doubt criminals would even notice. The violence in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport isn’t being driven by legal gun owners in the first place, and the way to address the rising crime isn’t by criminalizing the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, police and prosecutors need to ensure that there are swift and certain consequences for committing a violent crime. That doesn’t involve putting more gun laws on the books or targeting legal gun owners, as Chris Murphy’s demanding. It simply means getting serious about dealing with the individuals who are actually responsible committing the crimes in the first place.