Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Senate Republicans are set to introduce on a bill on Thursday that would codify the right to bear arms for self-defense outside the home.
The bill would incorporate elements from the Supreme Court’s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision from 2022, he said.
In Heller, the court affirmed an individual’s right to own a firearm. The Bruen decision affirmed the individual’s right to carry a gun for self-protection outside their home. Graham said the bill would enshrine those rights in federal law. It would also give citizens the right to sue any government agency or official who tried to infringe on that right.
“When you live in an autocratic environment, you don’t own; the government does,” Graham said during a March 16, 2023, press conference.
“[The Act is] to give you a cause of action so you can fight back.”
Graham was joined by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Kennedy said Americans must respect the court's decisions, regardless of whether or not they agree. He said some Democrats have been taking the position that it’s okay to ignore rights they disagree with.
“Their copy of the Bill of Rights goes from amendment one to amendment three,” Kennedy said.
According to Graham, the Democratic Party is continuing an assault on Americans' fundamental constitutional rights and the institutions set up to protect those rights. He said a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on protecting public safety in the wake of the Bruen decision is an example.
In that hearing, gun control advocates told how the Bruen decision had impacted other laws, especially the prohibition of firearms ownership for those subject to domestic violence protection orders.
In Bruen, the court established a "text and history" test for courts deciding a law’s constitutionality. Under this test, if a law does not conform with how similar laws have been enforced, it would not be considered constitutional.
Victims of domestic violence and gun control proponents told the committee that this test was used by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to remove protections.
In that case, Zackey Rahimi had been involved in several altercations in which he fired a gun while subject to a civil protection order. Based on the Bruen decision test, Rahimi pleaded guilty to that charge but successfully appealed.
Second Amendment advocates told the committee that Rahimi should have been imprisoned for his gun crimes. Instead, he was released by the courts, which allowed him to commit more crimes.
According to Graham, the hearing was one step in finding ways to chip away at a basic constitutional right by undermining a Supreme Court decision. Graham said liberals in the Democratic Party are committed to their political agenda above all else.
He said that after the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, overturning the constitutional right to abortion and sending the decision back to the states, certain liberal Democrats began to talk of packing the court. He said attempts to remove the filibuster and President Joe Biden’s recent executive order expanding background checks, increasing public scrutiny on gun dealers and redefining what it means to “deal in firearms” are part of that plan.
The executive order “evades the American legal system to get a political outcome,” said Graham.
“They want an outcome, and they don’t give a damn how they get it.”
Cornyn said Congress should go even further in affirming Second Amendment rights and called for “national reciprocity.” Under national reciprocity, concealed carry permits and firearms licenses would be honored in every state, just as driver’s licenses are.
“A concealed handgun license should be treated the same way,” he said.
Acknowledging that driving is not a constitutional right, Kennedy said it is still considered a right for Americans to drive cars. He pointed out that law-abiding drivers are not penalized for those who drive drunk.
“We don’t solve that problem by revoking everybody’s license. We focus on the problem—the drunk driver,” Kennedy said.
Gun rights organizations have criticized all three senators for supporting a gun control bill Biden has touted as the most significant gun safety bill in 30 years: The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Cornyn in particular has come under fire for his role in negotiating provisions of the bill for Red Flag laws. These laws allow the government to seize guns from persons a court has ruled a danger to themselves or the community.
The Texas lawmaker stood by his efforts, saying the law would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who are not competent to own guns.
“Any suggestion that I don’t support the Second Amendment is false," Cornyn said. "It’s just a lie.”