New Republican Senator Says Gun Safety Is ‘Unconstitutional’

Newly-elected Sen. Ted Cruiz (R-TX) accused politicians of exploiting the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut to advance gun safety legislation and argued that efforts to limit assault weapons and high capacity magazines are unconstitutional. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Cruz said he would back efforts to strengthen the federal database used to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms, but argued that any other reforms would violate the Second Amendment:

HOST: You are a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights…. is there any new gun control that you would accept?

CRUZ: The reason we are discussing this is because of the the tragedy in Newtown. And every parent, my wife and I we have two girls aged four and two, every parent was horrified at what happened there. To see 20 children, six dults senselessly murdered it takes your breath away. But within minutes, we saw politicians run out and try to exploit and push their political agenda of gun control. I do not suppor their gun control agenda for two reasons. Number one, it is it unconstitutional.

The right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment, but it is not absolute and lawmakers have introduced a series of common-sense restrictions. For instance, in the Heller case, the Supreme Court found that while a handgun ban is not constitutional, because handguns are in “common use,” a machine gun is not and therefore could be restricted. An assault weapon equipped with a clip that can shoot hundreds of rounds would likely fall into the same category. As conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”

In 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court upheld a law prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons.

There were no serious challenges to the Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004, though in 2002 an appeals court unanimously upheld the law.