Fox News host Eric Bolling baselessly attacked the Senate Democrats' legislative proposal to reduce gun violence -- which includes expanding background checks, cracking down on gun trafficking and improving school security -- by suggesting that amended legislation would include a “national gun registry” and would infringe on the Second Amendment. Bolling's claims stand in contrast to numerous constitutional scholars who have backed the constitutionality of gun violence prevention laws.
On the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Bolling addressed remarks made by Obama in favor of the Senate package by stating that Obama “said it's not going to be controversial. Well yes it was. It's not going to infringe on your Second Amendment rights. Well yes they would.”
In his remarks, Obama expressed support for the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and also advocated for the passage of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines:
OBAMA: Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence. All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment. None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.
Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can't get their hands on one. They'll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals. They'll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets. They'll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.
None of these ideas should be controversial.
Multiple legal experts have explained how current gun violence prevention proposals, including expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban, are constitutional under the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.
A January 30 letter authored by more than 50 constitutional law professors concluded that “the reforms currently being considered by Congress are clearly consistent with the Second Amendment.” The letter addresses background checks specifically, noting that an expansion “do[es] not impose a significant burden on law-abiding citizens”:
Universal background checks, especially those conducted instantaneously through the National Instant Background Check System, do not impose a significant burden on law-abiding citizens.
As with other rights that have eligibility criteria, such as the right to vote, the right to keep and bear arms is not offended by neutral measures designed to ensure that only eligible, law-abiding citizens exercise the right. Moreover, background checks imposed at the point of sale are typical of the “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” recognized by the Supreme Court in Heller.
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional scholar, offered testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 12 in support of the constitutionality of expanded background checks, stating, “There is no serious doubt that requiring ... a universal background check would comply with the Second Amendment.”
Although a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines is not included in the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 will be offered as an amendment to the gun violence prevention package.
Legal precedent and expert opinion exists in support of the constitutionality of assault weapons bans. In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on a challenge to the District of Columbia's assault weapons ban. The court upheld the ban, holding that assault weapons bans do not necessarily even implicate the Second Amendment right, but that even if such bans do, they are permissible because the government can prove a “substantial relationship” between the ban and “interests in protecting police officers and controlling crime.”
In his testimony, Tribe also said that assault weapons bans are constitutional, stating, “Application of Heller's three threshold factors -- dangerousness, commonness of use, and connection to core self-defense interests -- demonstrates that the Second Amendment does not provide legal shelter to the features that trigger a firearm's prohibition under the [assault weapons] ban.”
During the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Bolling also baselessly claimed that the final gun violence legislation package could include a national firearms registry; a measure opposed by the Obama administration:
BOLLING: The amendments are concerning. And the one they are most concerned about, the amendment that they are most concerned about, isn't the assault weapons or the magazine, multiple shot magazines, it's the national gun registry. People don't want a national gun registry. That means whoever owns a gun, you have to declare the gun and the governments going to know where every single handgun and shotgun in America--
STEVE DOOCY, HOST: --absolutely.
Current federal law prohibits the creation of a national gun registry and nothing in the current Senate proposal would overturn that law. Claims that legislation to expand background checks would create a national gun registry originate from a National Rifle Association conspiracy theory and have no basis in fact.