Senate

Democrats, gun control groups attack NRA for efforts to reshape judiciary

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called out the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday for working to reshape the federal judiciary while Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court advances in the Senate.

The Democrats were joined by gun violence advocacy groups Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady and March for Our Lives to discuss a new report led by Blumenthal that details the gun industry's funding of judges in lower courts and now for Barrett. 

"This report shows how beholden Republicans have become to the NRA, how corrupt the funneling of money has become, how there is coordination between consultants and media groups used by the NRA and Republican candidates and especially the Trump campaign. We believe that the public should be aware of this alarming campaign to capture the courts and it will have effect on American justice," Blumenthal said on a press call on Friday. 

He added that the report found that the NRA has funneled money from a collection of dark money groups, blocked state legislation and legislation in Congress for gun safety and launched a campaign to strike down legislation through the courts.

The NRA has sought to reshape the courts with "an extreme, radical view of the Second Amendment," Blumenthal said. 

Whitehouse called the NRA's efforts "unpatriotic and inappropriate."

"We talk about dark money but dark money just doesn't appear out of the darkness, there is some interest, some donor in the darkness that is writing the check," Whitehouse said, adding that the donors are people looking to control the judiciary. 

The senators also discussed how Democratic initiatives toward gun safety would be threatened by Barrett on the Supreme Court. Blumenthal said that Barrett, along with other conservative justices on the court, will take on cases that support Second Amendment rights. 

"[They] will in fact move to take the next case that comes along if it suits the purposes of the NRA and the dark money special interests that are funding the NRA. The ruthless effort to reshape the federal courts at every level must be stopped. Part of it will come in November, we hope," he said.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, noted Barrett's position that convicted felons should not all be fully barred from owning guns. 

Watts called Barrett "a dream come true Supreme Court justice for the NRA."

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