Category: News

Day 2: Kavanaugh Hearings

 

The defining moment of the first day of the US Supreme Court confirmation hearing was a photo of Judge Kavanaugh refusing to shake hands with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was murdered in Parkland, FL. Today, Sen. Graham of South Carolina generously provided Kavanaugh with a chance to address the gaffe. Rather than use the opportunity to show a shred of humanity in front of the American public, Kavanaugh said “I understand the real-world effects of our decisions… I have not lived in a bubble.” Guttenberg was not reassured:


Kavanaugh’s extremist views on the Second Amendment were further exposed today by Sen. Feinstein of California. When she asked Kavanaugh about the real world implications of his extreme view on the Second Amendment and assault weapons, he quickly pivoted to hardening schools.

“Of course the violence in the schools is something we all detest and want to do something about, and there are lots of efforts, I know, underway to make schools safer. I know at my girls’ school they do a lot of things now that are different than they did just a few years ago in terms of trying to harden the school and make it safer for everyone.”

Tellingly, Kavanaugh added, “But as a judge my job, as I saw it was to follow the Second Amendment opinion of the Supreme Court whether I agreed with it or disagreed with it.”

We will let America’s favorite fictional White House staffer translate:

In another curious exchange, Kavanaugh said “I’m a native of an urban-suburban area. I grew up in a city plagued by gun violence and gang violence and drug violence.” As DCist quickly pointed out, Kavanaugh was raised in the relatively safe suburbs of Bethesda outside of DC and graduated from Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, which features an on-campus golf course.

Of course, Kavanaugh’s dangerous record opposing common sense gun laws was just one of many issues discussed in the hearings that went late into the night.

During the nearly 13 hours of hearings, Kavanaugh spent most of the time evading tough questions about health care, reproductive rights, the role of the Federalist Society, and more.

While questioning Kavanaugh about his views on criminal justice reform and racial profiling, Sen. Booker of New Jersey again raised concerns about the lack of transparency during these proceedings.

“That’s why this system is rigged,” said Booker.  “There was one email specifically titled racial profiling, and somehow that was designated as something the public couldn’t see.”

Time is running out and we must act NOW! In an CNN opinion piece today, Stanford Law Professor John Donohue warned, “Kavanaugh’s aggrandized view of the Second Amendment, so out of step with both current trends and the will of the majority of Americans, would eliminate protective measures that keep Americans safe.”

The Conservative Money Behind Kavanaugh

Recent reports that the grassroots energy across the country is overwhelmingly against Kavanaugh comes as no surprise to States United and our affiliates who are gravely concerned about this nomination. We’ve seen that nearly 100% of the grassroots energy is opposed to Kavanaugh. The pro-Kavanaugh side is corporate lobbyists like the NRA writing million-dollar checks.

The Intercept reports that “conservative forces have been virtually incapable of driving any real pro-Kavanaugh activism on the ground, despite the tens of millions of dollars outside groups have committed to building public support. And the pro-Kavanaugh events that have been spotted were largely organized by just a handful of staunchly anti-choice groups with laser beam focus on overturning Roe V. Wade.”

A NARAL Pro-Choice America analysis found that conservative organizations are spending over $30 million as part of their effort to build public support. This includes millions being spent by the NRA to confirm Kavanaugh despite reports that the gun lobby giant is under investigation for its close relationship with Russia.

Speaking of the NRA… Just like day one, protesters continued to make their voices heard during the hearings. NRA spokesman Chuck Holton wasn’t pleased:

ACT: CONTACT YOUR SENATORS

Kavanaugh has the lowest approval ratings since failed nominee Robert Bork. However, it only takes 51 votes to confirm Kavanaugh. You can use this resource to contact your Senators.

All eyes are on Senate Republicans Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) and the five Democratic Senators who are undecided: Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Doug Jones (AL), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND).

Don’t live in a state with a swing Senator but still want to help? You can sign-up to make calls from home with a virtual phone bank to persuade Maine voters to call Senator Susan Collins and urge her to #StopKavanaugh.

Kavanaugh SCOTUS Hearings, Day 1

On the first day of the much-anticipated confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Democrats came out swinging. Senators Blumenthal of Connecticut, Booker of New Jersey, and Harris of California spent the first hour asking for a vote to adjourn. This slowed the proceedings to a halt because Republican Chairman Grassley of Iowa could not allow a vote because Republicans were missing from the chamber.

Why were Senate Democrats asking for a delay? Their chief complaint was the refusal of the Trump Administration and other Republicans to unseal documents from Kavanaugh’s White House tenure. During the weekend before the hearings, it was reported that the Trump Administration was withholding 100,000 pages of Kavanaugh records.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) responded, “President Trump’s decision to step in at the last moment and hide 100k pages of Judge Kavanaugh’s records from the American public is not only unprecedented in the history of SCOTUS noms, it has all the makings of a cover up… What are they trying so desperately to hide?”

The night before the hearing, 42,000 documents were dumped on Senator Democrats, meaning Senate Democrats would have to read 7,000 pages an hour if they were to review all the documents before the start of the hearings Tuesday morning.

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS HERE!

Even with this last-minute document dump, the Senate has only received 10% of Kavanaugh’s record and the public has only had access to 7%. “We wouldn’t hire an intern without 90% of their resume,” explained Senator Booker.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Did you see Judge Kavanaugh refuse to shake hands with Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting? We may only have a small fraction of Kavanaugh’s record, but he showed us his true colors today.

“Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended,” Guttenberg wrote on Twitter. “Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg’s dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”

Senator Feinstein of California used much of her opening statement to highlight Kavanaugh’s extremist views on the Second Amendment.  “If the Supreme Court were to adopt your reasoning,” she said, “I feel the number of victims would continue to grow. Even [former Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia understood that weapons that are most useful in military service can, in fact, be regulated.”

Fellow California Senator Harris also discussed his troubling views on assault weapons. “We have witnessed horrific mass shootings from Parkland to Las Vegas to Jacksonville, Florida. Yet Judge Kavanaugh has gone further than the Supreme Court and has written that because assault weapons are in ‘common use,’ assault weapons and high-capacity magazines cannot be banned under the Second Amendment.” For more on Kavanaugh’s troubling opposition to common sense gun laws, read our report here.

Finally, US Capitol Police reported that 70 people were arrested, including Women’s March founder Linda Sarsour and actress Piper Perabo. Republican Senator of Nebraska Ben Sasse referred to the disruptions as “hysteria,” and said women had been holding “screaming protests saying women are going to die” for 30 years.

We’ll be watching and live-tweeting every day of the public hearing, so please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and sign-up for our email updates!

Delaware’s Big Year!

States United to Prevent Gun Violence is incredibly proud of the hard work and great results of our Delaware affiliate this year!

Below is an update from the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence.

This year’s legislative season was successful and extraordinary for gun violence prevention in Delaware – The General Assembly passed four GVP bills, which will go a long way to making the state safer! Thank you to everyone who supported the push for gun violence prevention by calling and emailing legislators and senators as well as by attending the hearings!

That being said, it is essential that we continue to build on the success and momentum during the summer and into next year!

HB 222 – Red Flag Bill SIGNED!

On June 27th, Governor John Carney signed House Bill 222 into law, which was previously passed unanimously in the Senate, 20 – 0. The legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. David Bentz, will allow a court to issue a Lethal Violence Protection Order if a family member or law enforcement officer can show that the person in question poses a danger to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing or receiving a firearm. Read more about the bill signing here and watch the video here.

Recap of Other 2018 GVP Laws

In addition to HB 222, Delaware was successful in passing HB 300, which bans bump stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at a fast rate.

HB 302, also known as the Beau Biden Violence Prevention Act was a bipartisan effort, which will restrict access to firearms for those who mental health professionals believe present a danger to themselves or others. Watch the video of the bill signing.

HB 174, which was passed unanimously in the legislature, strengthens penalties for illegal purchases of firearms, and in turn, deters ‘straw purchases’ by individuals who are unable to legally buy firearms.

#SaveSCOTUS

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh holds extreme views of the Second Amendment and does not share the values of most Americans.

Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should consider public safety when judging gun cases.

Dissenting in Heller II, a follow-on case to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, Judge Kavanaugh expressed the radical view that there is an “absence of a role for judicial interest balancing or assessment of costs and benefits of gun regulations.” His record suggests that he would disregard public safety justifications for gun safety laws and instead consider only “text, history, and tradition.”

In the same dissent, he wrote that “semi-automatic rifles have traditionally not been banned and are in common use today, and are thus protected” by the Second Amendment, contradicting four federal circuit court of appeals who have upheld current assault weapon bans. Kavanaugh argues that there is no constitutional difference between assault weapons and handguns and considers modern laws invalid when considered against regulations made in 1791. He concluded his dissent with another argument not shared by mainstream judges: that because most states do not require registration of firearms, it is unconstitutional to have a mandatory registration law.

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS HERE

This radical view would empower judges to strike down life-saving law enforcement tools like domestic violence restraining orders, large capacity magazine regulations, and “red flag” laws because they lack historical support. For example, domestic abuse wasn’t a crime in the United States until the mid-1800.

Judge Kavanaugh’s extremist views have not been adopted by any court since the original Heller decision ten years ago. Even Judge Kavanaugh’s Republican-appointed colleagues on the D.C. Circuit disagree with his interpretation of the Second Amendment. His record suggests that he will trample states rights by invalidating state laws regulating the carrying of concealed firearms and weaken the barriers for legally prohibited persons like domestic abusers from accessing guns. According to the Guardian, “Trump’s latest supreme court pick could be the swing vote needed to tear down some of the remaining restrictions on gun rights in America, including giving citizens a constitutional right to carry a gun in public.”

We are also concerned about the process of this nomination. Every day we read new headlines about indictments of Russians interfering with our elections, Russian spies funneling money through the National Rifle Association, and Justice Kennedy and his son’s financial relationship with Donald Trump.

To address the skepticism felt by Americans about the current process, we ask that the U.S. Senate ensure that this nomination process not be rushed. The Senate should NOT schedule a hearing for Kavanaugh until all of his White House emails are published online. Kavanaugh could sit on the court for decades to come and we deserve to hear him answer questions to see if he shares the values of Americans.

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS HERE

Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Coming to a State House Near You

Source: The Trace & Giffords Law Center. April 13, 2018

It has been a very busy two months for gun violence prevention champions across the country. In addition to coordinating walkouts, marches, town halls, and new activist trainings, many of our affiliates are racing the clock to pass life-saving legislation before regular legislative sessions end.

Since the February 14, 2018 tragedy at Parkland, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been under immense public pressure to pass measures to prevent mass shootings and help students feel safe at school. In statehouses around the country, there is growing bipartisan consensus that Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) can save lives by giving law enforcement and family members a vital tool to prevent tragedies before a shot is ever fired.

In many cases of gun violence, such as mass shootings and suicide, the shooter exhibits warning signs before a tragedy occurs. For example, the Parkland gunman was long known to law enforcement as troubled and a threat, but law enforcement was powerless to intervene. ERPO laws, also known as Gun Violence Restraining Orders or “red flag laws,” allow family members and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual poses a serious threat of violence to themselves or others. Family members and law enforcement are often in the best position to recognize the warning signs of violence and creating an ERPO will provide a tool to prevent a tragedy before it’s too late.

Five states had ERPO laws prior to this year: California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington. Red flag bills have been introduced in 28 states this legislative session and have received a warm reception by Republicans and Democrats alike. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a red flag bill on March 9, 2018, and Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed an ERPO bill into law on April 11, 2018.

In the final days of the legislative session, States United affiliate Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence passed an ERPO bill in addition to a bump stock ban, oversight of the Handgun Permit Review Board, and funding for gun violence prevention programs. It should come as no surprise that the leaders of the Maryland group, Jen Pauliukonis and Liz Banach, were named “Winners of the 2018 General Assembly.”

Our Massachusetts affiliate Stop Handgun Violence just cleared an important hurdle on April 13, 2018 when an ERPO bill received unanimous support from the Joint Committee on Public Safety. Want to know the status of ‘red flag’ laws across the country? The Trace has got you covered.

Finally, have you seen our new resource featuring quotes from conservative voices supporting ERPO laws? Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and even the NRA’s Chris Cox are on the record supporting this targeted and effective tool for law enforcement to keep our communities safe.

 

Math. History. Science. Guns??


Wisconsin’s “guns everywhere” lawmakers are at it again.

This time, they’re proposing shooting classes as part of the high school curriculum!

>>Click here to tell your legislators to keep the gun industry out of our schools by rejecting AB 427.

Let’s be really clear about the purpose of this legislation: Introducing kids to guns at an early age means more money for the gun industry. The National Shooting Sports Foundation determined that the average target shooter spends about $75,000 over his lifetime, if he is recruited by the age of 16.

And, in case you have any doubt this is purely about gun industry profits, check this out: Jim Sable founded USA High School Clay Target League “after watching the average age at his gun club jump to the mid-fifties.” Worried about the trend, he thought, Why not go to the schools? That’s where the money is.”

AB 427 will have a committee hearing on August 3 at 11 am. We will send you more info about the hearing soon.
Right now, it’s critical that you let the committee chairs and your legislators know our kids’ education and safety is far more important than gun industry profits!

Get loud,

Jeri

Every Three Hours

States United
It is a known fact that every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. Here in America, one out of three homes with children has a gun, many kept unlocked or loaded. Every year thousands of kids are killed and injured as a result through homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings.

With our new PSA “Every Three Hours,” we’re highlighting the impact of gun violence on kids, parents, and the medical community to encourage the frank conversations about guns that can save kids lives.

Gun violence is complicated, but keeping guns secured and out of the hands of kids is not. Guns can be stored more safely by keeping them unloaded and locked up, using a gun safe/trigger lock, and keeping bullets in a separate locked location. Storing guns responsibly means fewer guns being carried into our schools, fewer tween and teen firearms suicides, and fewer unintentional child shootings.

Click here to watch the video, commit to protecting kids, and share “Every Three Hours” with 3 friends.

Sincerely,

Julia Wyman

Executive Director – States United to Prevent Gun Violence