On Friday, NRA-ILA announced that Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are joining forces with Congressmen Mark Souder (R-IN) and Mike Ross (D-AR) to write a bi-partisan joint amicus curiae brief in the landmark McDonald v. Chicago. Will Pennsylvania’s delegation join this pro-gun interpretation for the states?
In 2008, Sen. Hutchison lead an effort to organize a record number of members of Congress to sign a pro-individual rights brief in the Heller case. At the time, both Sen. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter signed onto the brief. In the House, 13 members of the Pennsylvania delegation signed the brief, including the 19th District’s Cong. Todd Platts. These members argued:
As Federal officials, we have a fundamental interest in protecting the constitutional rights of our constituents and the American people in general. …
The Second Amendment provides: â€œA well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.â€ Congress adopted that wording and proposed it to the States in 1789. It became part of the Bill of Rights which the States ratified in 1791. As the text and the drafting history demonstrate, the Amendment was intended to guarantee the right of individuals to possess and keep ordinary firearms.
What stands out are Pennsylvania’s members of Congress who refused to support such an interpretation and sought to deny an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. Cong. Patrick Murphy (PA-8), Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), and Joe Sestak (PA-7) refused to sign on to the brief, ultimately ending up on the wrong side of history. Two other members of the delegation, Cong. Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, actually lead the opposition by filing a brief making a claim that the Second Amendment is limited to militia service. Interestingly, not a single member of the Court agreed with this claim. Even the dissent brief acknowledged the individual right to own arms.
At this time, no members of the Pennsylvania delegation have indicated whether they will sign on to this brief or not. It would be reasonable to expect the same result with this brief, though we will keep you informed as names are announced.