WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined several of his colleagues in releasing an extensive report detailing the process by which the National Rifle Association (NRA), bankrolled by gun manufacturers and dark money interests, has taken to capture the courts and overturn commonsense gun safety laws.
The report comes as Republicans try to rush through the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a jurist to match their extremist Second Amendment agenda. During her confirmation hearings this week, Barrett dodged answering questions around her ruling in Kanter v. Barr in which she would have allowed a convicted felon to possess a firearm and which she herself previously said “sounds kind of radical.” If confirmed to the Court, Barrett could potentially cast the deciding vote on future gun safety regulations and strike down commonsense gun safety laws already in place.
“The NRA and their dark money ilk cannot wait for Justice Amy Coney Barrett to strike down commonsense gun safety laws” said Sen. Menendez. “The only way the scandal-ridden NRA can pursue its dangerous agenda is if they stack the courts in their favor. Although nearly 90 percent of the American public supports universal background checks, the NRA knows it needs just five justices to ram through their dangerous policies.”
Thirty-eight thousand Americans die from gun violence each year, an average of 100 people every day. Rates of gun violence are increasing across the country and mass shootings are becoming more deadly. As a result, Americans overwhelmingly support gun safety legislation, yet the United States continues to have the weakest gun laws and the most guns held by residents – 393 million – of any comparable country in the world.
The gun lobby, led by the NRA, has for decades been advocating an extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment and poured millions of dollars into capturing the courts to roll back sensible gun safety legislation. Although the NRA claims to be a membership organization, it receives a significant portion of its financial support from gun manufacturers and other dark money interests. A recent lawsuit has revealed that the NRA may have violated campaign finance laws and the terms of its own charitable tax-exempt status, showering its leadership with gifts and travel.
“The gun lobby is flailing,” said Giffords Law Center Litigation Director Hannah Shearer. They have lost public support, continue spending money on legal fees, and they’re losing the legislators they paid so much for. That’s why the NRA has turned to the courts. Desperate to overturn the judicial consensus in favor of gun safety laws, the NRA partnered with President Trump to send judges who agree with their unprecedented and unlimited interpretation of the Second Amendment to every federal court in the land. Judge Barrett is one of these judges; the NRA celebrated her appeals court appointment in 2017, and now they’ve been rewarded. If she is confirmed, the NRA will have another justice on the highest court in the land who affirms their dangerous worldview. We can’t let that happen. The Senate must reject this nomination and what it stands for.”
“Last week, we saw that Judge Barrett would be a dream come true Supreme Court Justice for the NRA, but a nightmare for the safety of the American people,” said Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts. “Giving Judge Barrett a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court would put nearly every gun safety law at risk, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters will stop at nothing to hold Senate Republicans accountable for breaking the rules and their word to steal this seat.”
“Last week, we saw that the gun lobby’s investment in Donald Trump continues to pay dividends, even as their extremist agenda and corruption alienate the American public,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown. “While 100 people die of gun violence every day in the United States, Judge Amy Coney Barrett showed this week that she will further the NRA’s agenda on the Supreme Court. It’s why they so readily cheered her nomination; and, it’s why we cannot allow her nomination to move forward.”
"We have an inherent and constitutionally protected right not to be shot," said March for Our Lives Judicial Advocacy Associate Tabitha Escalante. "This right is in danger. The rushed attempt to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat before the election reflects the President and Senate Republicans’ relentless efforts to corrupt our judiciary and overturn protections for women, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, the environment, and the thousands of us who are impacted by gun violence each year. Judge Barrett spent three days evading questions from our elected leaders, but she managed to confirm what her record already shows, which is that she is an existential threat to our right to live."
The report was also unveiled by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (d-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).