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"A constitutional joke": Jamie Raskin destroys Republicans' 2nd Amendment fantasy

Salon logo Salon 7/21/2022 Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer

Jamie Raskin © Provided by Salon Jamie Raskin

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) listens during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep Jamie Raskin, D-MD, went off on Republicans for their "insurrectionist view" of the Second Amendment during Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would ban assault weapons.

The proposed legislation, introduced in March 2021, would ban the sale, manufacturing, and importation of certain automatic weapons, in addition to high-capacity ammunition magazines, which allow guns to send quickly off 10 rounds of ammunition. The proposed bill was resurfaced weeks after a series of deadly mass shootings, in Buffalo, NY, Uvalde, TX, and most recently at a fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill.

Raskin began his speech by attacking Texas Congressman Chip Roy's reasoning for why an assault ban would be unconstitutional.

"My friend from Texas, Mr. Roy, advances the so-called insurrectionist view of the second amendment, that the second amendment's purpose is to give the people the right to overthrow or fight our government or fight the police or threaten armed resistance if the government is somehow being unfair or unjust," Raskin said. "This reading is totally and absolutely absurd and flies in the face of the place text of the constitution."

A clip of Raskin's speech already has 53k likes on Twitter, only hours after it was first posted.

Raskin went on to read two sections of the Constitution, Article IV Section 4, and Article III Section 3, which classify armed resistance against the government as "domestic violence" and "treason."

He then invalidated the "insurrectionist view" of the Second Amendment, which Roy argued stems from a speech by Founding Father Patrick Henry in 1778, in which Henry argued for individuals to have the right to bear arms to defend "public liberty." 

"That's not constitutional law, that's a constitutional joke," Raskin rebutted.

Raskin's correction of the record holds even more significance within the context of the ongoing January 6th hearings regarding former President Donald Trump's role in the violent insurrection against the capitol, in which Raskin has played a big role. On the day of the riot, protesters were armed with weapons ranging from baseball bats to assault rifles.

Raskin concluded that even former conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who subscribed to an originalist view of the Constitution, agreed that the Second Amendment did not protect the right for anyone to carry an assault rifle in any case, as he articulated in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.

"We're not telling them to repeal the Second Amendment, we're telling them to read the Second Amendment," he said.

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