00:05, September 07 95 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-07 00:05:16
Kavanaugh nomination is a 'slap in the face' to community that survived Parkland shooting

An AR-15 can spray 150 rounds in six minutes. I know this because this is exactly what happened the day my two sons Cameron and Holden were trapped in a classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, the day a mentally ill person slaughtered their friends using an AR-15, a weapon of war.

It was a slap in the face to the Parkland community on 9 July 2018 when Donald Trump announced his supreme court nominee to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy. To the delight of some and the chagrin of many, Trump chose Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

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On 24 February 2018, following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, President Trump declared he would make access to assault weapons very difficult, saying:

“Bump stocks, we are writing that out. I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress does it or not, I’m writing it out myself. You put it into the machine gun category which is what it becomes essentially, a machine gun, and nobody’s going to be able, it’s going to be very hard to get them.”

Now he has nominated a potential supreme court justice who believes in an extreme interpretation of the second amendment, one that the majority of Americans do not support.

In 2011, Kavanaugh issued a lone dissent against the 2008 supreme court ruling in District of Columbia v Heller voting to strike down the District of Columbia’s prohibition on assault weapons. The court’s opinion in the Heller case affirmed the constitutionality of reasonable restrictions on the second amendment. Kavanaugh’s dissent in the 2011 case in which Heller was heavily invoked signals his willingness to avoid even the most basic commonsense restrictions. His meeting with the NRA’s Chris Cox at the White House this past March, mere weeks after the shooting at my sons’ school in Parkland, Florida, signals where his allegiance lies.

Kavanaugh has likened a ban on assault rifles to a ban on a category of speech. It is long settled that no right is absolute. Our first amendment right to free speech is tempered by a small variety of exceptions, the most famous of course being that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Why? Because if you do, it could have a harmful effect on others’ right to their own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, in the form of a stampede that could cause injury or death.

The second amendment is similarly reasonably restricted. Most would agree that a five-year-old should not be able to legally purchase a handgun. In many jurisdictions, convicted felons and domestic abusers are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. Few object to these reasonable restrictions on our constitutionally enumerated (as opposed to “God-given”) right to bear arms.

Reasonable restrictions on purchase, ownership and availability of firearms, especially those weapons of war commonly referred to as “assault weapons”, are not a radical concept, nor should they be partisan in any way. There should not be a liberal or conservative bent on a desire to keep one’s family safe.

The memory of the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland has not faded. Every day, all day, our community is reminded of the seventeen innocent lives lost. No parent should have to go through hours of fear and anguish, wondering whether their child is going to leave school that day in a body bag. No child should have to huddle in a closet with 30 other children, texting his parent: “I don’t know if I’m going to make it out of here alive. I love you.” No parent should have to find out that their child was one of the murdered ones.

If there is continued easy access to assault weapons, every school, concert, movie theater, church, and virtually any other venue where people gather, remains vulnerable to becoming a mass shooting crime scene. Parkland was voted one of the safest cities in the state of Florida for the past eight years, including 2018. If this atrocity can happen here, it can happen anywhere. I urge the Senate to vote the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh down. The lives of our children, this nation’s greatest asset, depend on it.

  • Jeffrey A Kasky is the president of Families v Assault Rifles Pac

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