July 16th, 2009
04:44 PM ET
12 years ago

NRA, RNC target Sotomayor over gun rights

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican National Committee and Second Amendment advocates came down hard on Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday for not directly answering a question on whether or not Americans have a right to bear arms.

More than seven weeks after President Obama named her as his Supreme Court pick, and nearly a week into her confirmation hearings, the National Rifle Association issued an official statement Thursday opposing her nomination.

The announcement came the same day the RNC released a new Web video showing an exchange between Sotomayor and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn over the "right to self-defense." Sotomayor told the Oklahoma senator that she didn't know if "that legal question has been ever presented" and called it an "abstract question."

"Judge Sotomayor, The Right To Bear Arms Isn't An Abstract Question," reads the screen in the video. "Do You Believe That Americans Have A Right To Bear Arms? Stop Evading, And Start Answering The Question."

Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association said Sotomayor has a "hostile view of the Second Amendment and the fundamental right of self-defense."

"Judge Sotomayor takes an opposite view, contrary to the views of our Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the American people," LaPierre and Cox said in a statement. "We believe any individual who does not agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less the highest court in the land."

But Sotomayor got a nod from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which called her answers related to the Second Amendment "clear and responsible."

"The NRAs statement opposing Judge Sotomayor represents a shameful misrepresentation of her testimony as well as the law," Paul Helmke, the organization's president, said in a statement.

Filed under: NRA • RNC • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Robert

    I could care less about the NRA stuff but Dr./Senator Coburn could take the rest of his term off and still win another term. He is a class act and the State of Oklahoma loves him. I am not from Oklahoma but I will continue to send him campaign $ until he decides not to run.

    July 16, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. D. Tree

    The question is being twisted.

    She was not asked whether or not Americans have a right to bear arms.

    She was asked about a narrow hypothetical ruling

    She answered in much the same way Roberts and Alito answered similar questions – its not appropriate to pre-judge every narrow decision!

    July 16, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  3. Paula

    Please allow Sarah Palin to do what she do best HUNT, FISH she can not education herself by 2012 to lead this country anyplace. I truly know some 30 years olds that I think can do a better job. NO JOKE

    July 16, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. RR

    decades ago in Gideon v Wainwright, the SCOTUS said states must abide by the Bill of Rights. A couple of years ago, Sotomayor said the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to states.

    She is obviously not qualified to sit on the SCOTUS if she thinks states can over-ride the Bill of Rights

    July 16, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Larry July 16th, 2009 5:43 pm ET

    The right to bear arms is in the Constitution. Our forefathers didn't have automatic weapons, and that is a big part of the controversy.

    You don't use automatic weapons to hunt, and you don't need them for self-defense, unless you're facing down an army.

    Larry... there is some wisdom in what you say, May I counter with an analogy?

    When the federal income tax was instituted, the rate was around 1% and affected about 1% of the population. By 1980, the top marginal rate was 78% on a much broader population.

    It's called a slippery slope. Once the door is opened, all bets are off. You can't unring a bell.

    July 16, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  6. Flex

    Hee hee hee. We're going to take your guns away from you! Hee hee hee.

    July 16, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  7. Benito Mussolini

    You can have all the guns you want.When the time comes to take them the U.N will.

    July 16, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. johnnie

    The (NRA) and (RNC) is the same word almost spell backwards. Am so glad the day has come that ,it does matter anymore ,who they oppose .... Hey Cheney ,where are you , your NRA member, Welcome Judge Sotomayor...... Who cares ,who those (NOTHINGS) oppose. CNN should oppose Lou Dobbs,Bill Bennett, they have shot themselves in foot to many times................

    July 16, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  9. stormerF

    If you can not answer the question,whether you believe the constitution gives an individual the fundamental right ,to defend your self and family with a firearm,then you have no right being a judge..

    July 16, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. ender

    That's funny. Judge Roberts feels the right to free speech does not extend to "pro marijuanna "declarations. And the republicans have said over and over that our rights can be suspended during times of war.
    They also believe equality should only be extended to heterosexuals.

    But you tell them the 2nd is questionable in its wording (and it is VERY questionable in its wording) and all of the sudden the bill of rights is untouchable.

    Typical republican foolishness.You can't have it both was republicans.

    July 16, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. Ren from Baltimore

    LaPierre, why don't you go out on a long hunt and cool off. Better yet, go on a fishing trip.

    Sotomayor has proven to be one of the most thoughtful and articulate nominees I have seen in my 60 years. I like to hunt, but I sure don't feel comfortable with someone like you running around with a loaded rifle, be it a .22 or an AK-47. That scares me more than anything this woman has said this week.

    July 16, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. gl, Pittsburgh

    May I just say, I support a citizen's right to own a handgun or rifle, but I could care less what the NRA has to say. They don't speak for me.

    July 16, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. johnnie

    DID the NRA and RCA find (CHENEY) or Lou Dobbs and Bill Bennett find themselves.... oh i forgot , i just dont like those clowns, Sonia Sotomayor will be comfirmed

    July 16, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Marc

    Slowhand – She has 'danced around' every 'gotcha' question thrown by GOPers. And every time she tried to show how and why she did or did not what she did in her rulings, they weren't interested. You may remember, or check it in Youtube, that Alito did had to act the same way when he passed throught the same situation.
    Fair is Fair – Supposing that I found myself in the baseless and fearmongering 'gotcha' that you described to Janet I would call 911 and if I found that I had to fight the person, I would do it with whatever I could use as a weapon (baseball or hockey bats are the most common in such cases).
    But call 911 would be a first.
    And let me make the same question for you, if someone (that in any other country would not have the right to have a gun with him) invaded your house and threatened you with his/her gun already loaded and in his/her hand. Would you go suicidal and try to reach for your own gun?

    July 16, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Mario, mtl, ca.

    NRA doesn't care if a gun is in the end of kids, or anyone with mental illness, because for the nra there is no exception to the 2nd amendment, who care when police officer are kills freely by some nuts

    July 16, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Alicia

    Okay is it me? First Sessions says "You voted against a judgement and another judge voted for and he is Puerto Rican.'. WTH is that about?

    Second Ensign's buddy says 'You got some splainin' to do.'. WTH is that about?

    Third Sessions again, 'We're gonna do the crack cocaine thing'. WTH is that about?

    The Republicans are so racist they can't help themselves. Obama is a genius....we all get a good look at these racist and chauvenistic crackers for what they are. They must all go to the C Street Church.

    I am tired of the cries from poor wittle White men who have gotten away with murder literally. Poor thangs!

    July 16, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. videodrome

    We are losing our guns!!!
    We are losing our guns!!!
    The sky is falling!!!!
    The sky is falling!!!!
    The moon is made of cheese!!!!
    The moon is made of cheese!!!!

    I wish these alarmists would get over themselves.
    I am a liberal AND a gun owner and I'm not sweating anything.

    July 16, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. CF

    As a sportshooter and a person who wants to protect my family, I fully support the right to bear arms when necessary.

    However, your right to bear arms does not trump my right (or anybody else's) to not be shot.

    The NRA doesn't get that. Rather than restrict dangerous weapons in areas where they are a problem, or step up the requirements and background checks for getting a gun, they would rather allow anyone and everyone applicable to get their hands on these weapons, and only punish them after they've misused them.

    How many more innocent people need to be shot before they realize that an ounce of prevention beforehand is worth more than a ton of punishment afterward?

    The NRA isn't happy unless everybody constantly has a gun aimed at everybody elseā€¦. this is what they consider a "safe America."

    July 16, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. Danny E. Gonzalez

    How is it contentious??? the Judge ruled on a case involving martial arts weapons on a specific and targeted ban to carry them; kids are not allow to carry guns inside schools, they are not to carry them in federal buildings, the established precendent does show clear and specific applications where the 2nd amendment has been challenged, just as all other amedments, but the fundamental right remains... that is why we have courts and why we are able (thanks to the brave men and women that have died for this country) to file a fair complaint when we feel our rights have been violated. so it appears that the NRA and the RNC want an activist judge that will not be open to look at the law and assest facts; they seem to want someone that will tell the world the second amedment can only be interpreded one way; so they must be o.k. with ANY person owning a gun, criminal, junkie, student, perhaps even foreign... I do not advicate a nation wide ban; but surely there most me somewhere we can all agree and if not at least allow the legislature and the courts to help us navigate options... that is how the system works...

    July 16, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Reese

    I own a gun store in Colorado and I have had the best 12 months ever. Obama has been the best thing for our business in the last 20 years. I am sure all the Sotomayor tomfoolery will help. A fellow gun store owner in Dallas in April received an order 90000 rounds for assault rifles that sold in one week. All you hater are helping business.

    July 16, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. CF

    "As a hunter, competition shooter and a responsible American, I can assure you none of my weapons will ever be used to commit a crime or harm anyone unless it is a life threatening situation with no other recourse. There are thousands of gun owners who are the backbone of this country that are not gun nuts as some of you would describe them.Yet when some fruitcake cracks and shoots someone, all the anti gun freaks start yelling bring back the assault weapons ban or ban all handguns."

    Then why don't you support ruling to keep guns out of the hands of these bad people and only allow responsible ones such as yourself access to these weapons? I don't doubt that there are thousands of responsible gun owners that make up this country, but not all people are as responsible as you are, you know.

    July 16, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. Steve in Kentucky

    I think there should be a law that bans NRA members - only - from owning guns. Everybody else could still own 'em. The rationale would be that members of the NRA don't have enough intelligence to own a gun.

    July 16, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. CF

    "So suppose someone breaks into your home and threatens you with physical harm. What are you going to defend yourself with? A water pistol?"


    This isn't about the right to defend oneself. It's about the NRA and their ridiculous stretching of the 2nd ammendment. Do you really need to own an armor piercing automatic assault rifle, or be allowed to carry firearms into a public bar, to "stop an intruder in your home"?

    July 16, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. Phil Muse

    It's high time the NRA stopped having so much influence in U.S. policy. Americans need to wake up. The NRA actually represents powerful gun manufacturers and distributors who are supplying the needs of supversive groups and criminals around the world, while they cynically claim to represent the rights of ordinary citizens. Government law enforcement agencies south of the border are justifiably sore at the United States for doing so little to curb the demand for drugs in this country and for not having sensible, comprehensive gun control legislation on the federal level. The Mexican drug cartels have armed themselves to the teeth with weapons puchased from the more than six thousand gun shops and gun shows within 100 miles of the U.S. border. That includes military weapons such as assault rifles and bazookas that no honest citizen should have the need to own. Enough is enough! It's time for realistic gun control that will not penalize the average citizen. No one is suggesting we take away your hunting rifle. But the 275 million handguns already in this country, virtually one for every man, woman and child in the U.S., are ticking time bombs with the potential to kill and maim for decades.

    July 16, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. LKM

    To "Fair is fair.

    I, for instance own no gun. I do think a homeowner has a right to one though. Not an assault weapon or an RPG though. Myself, I do have two large dogs that weigh over 90 lbs each who would be far better than a gun to prevent someone breaking into my house in the first place.

    My second line of defense is to have my wife lock herself in the bathroom, where her cell phone is at night and call 911.

    If I should have to deal with anyone after the first two actions, I have my trusty baseball bat and a large fillet knife close by. I'll take my chances that the bad guys will pick on someone else.

    July 16, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
1 2 3 4