Via the Weekly Standard, this is worth watching less for the nuts and bolts of the constitutional dialogue than as evidence of how far Cruz has already gotten under Senate Democrats’ skin. Doesn’t take much here for Feinstein to get awfully defensive about how long she’s been in the Senate, how many bodies she’s seen, how she respects the Constitution but etc etc etc. You’d think that, as an anti-gun warrior of long standing, she’d be armed by now with rote rebuttals to the sort of basic Second Amendment question that Cruz is posing. Nope: She falls back on prudential arguments about how she’s only banning a few types of weapons, how Americans don’t need bazookas, and so forth. Finally Leahy and Durbin back her up with the obvious reply, that the First Amendment isn’t absolute (defamation, incitements to riot, and child porn can all be regulated), in which case why should the Second Amendment be? They might also have noted that the text of the Second Amendment, unlike the First or Fourth, begins with a caveat that specifically imagines some sort of regulation. And Cruz, as a former state solicitor general, was surely expecting all that. I wonder where he was headed with this line of questioning if it hadn’t been cut off. Either he was just trying to put Feinstein on the spot or, maybe, he was angling to get one of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to defend their position with an attack-ad-worthy soundbite about how there are limits to constitutional rights. It’s Durbin, I believe, who finally obliges him.
Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban passed the Committee 10-8 today on a party-line vote, but don’t get caught up in that. Reid will be lucky to break 50 votes for cloture in the full Senate. The bill to worry about if you’re a supporter of gun rights is Schumer’s new bill, which purports merely to expand background checks to private sales but actually ends up doing much more. Read Charles Cooke’s summary of it at NRO. Criminal “transfer” of a weapon doesn’t just mean transferring title, via a sale; it also apparently means transferring possession, even for a brief amount of time.
Update: Some commenters are grumbling that I’ve misunderstood what “well-regulated” means in the Second Amendment. I’m not giving you my understanding, though; I’m telling you how Democrats might have responded to Cruz. They’re not originalists. They might seize on the word “regulated” and use that as a pretext for legislation. Although, in fairness to them, their anti-2A arguments typically focus more on the meaning of the word “militia” than on “regulated.”