January 29, 2021
By Mark Chesnut
Firearms News readers who have been engaged in the battle to save the Second Amendment for more than just the last few years will likely remember the name Merrick Garland. And for good reason—the anti-gun judge’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia prompted a hard-fought battle that ended with the nomination going down in defeat.
But if you thought Garland, a judge currently on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was somehow destined for obscurity after that defeat, you’d be wrong, as new President Joe Biden is tapping Garland for the office of Attorney General. And in that capacity, Garland could wreak nearly as much havoc on America’s law-abiding gun owners as he could have on the Supreme Court.
The Congress-created position of attorney general is appointed to administer justice by overseeing more than 100,000 federal employees in about 40 separate component organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and, you guessed it, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Having a man of Garland’s anti-gun credentials heading the agency that often seems to think it is tasked with making firearms laws rather than enforcing them could be problematic, to say the least.
Garland’s anti-gun leanings are no secret, according to the National Rifle Association.
“Garland does not believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms,” NRA-ILA wrote in a recent news update. “On March 9, 2007, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia, the precursor to Heller v. District of Columbia. The opinion struck down the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the civilian ownership of handguns and recognized that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Expressing disapproval of the panel’s ruling, Garland voted to rehear the case.”
Additionally, Garland’s decision in another important case further showed his propensity to infringe upon the Second Amendment, rather than recognize it for the individual right that it protects.
“… Garland has worked to undermine a federal statute meant to protect gun owners from firearms registration,” NRA-ILA continued. “In the 2000 case NRA v. Reno, NRA sued to stop the Department of Justice from retaining successful National Instant Criminal Backgrounds Check System (NICS) transaction records in what the agency termed an ‘audit log.’ In relation to NICS, federal law (18 U.S.C. 922(t)(2)(c)) requires the government to ‘destroy all records of the system with respect to the call (other than the identifying number and the date the number was assigned) and all records of the system relating to the person or the transfer.’ In a three-judge panel, Garland joined a colleague to uphold this Department of Justice practice, imperiling the privacy of gun owners.”
Whether enough pro-gun, pro-freedom U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle will have the courage and fortitude to mount enough opposition to send Garland back onto the scrapheap of history remains to be seen. The track records of many such lawmakers to support what is right hasn’t been good of late. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let’s hope they surprise us this time.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.