Graham Knocks Cruz On Guns And Tyranny: ‘We Tried That Once… I’m Not Looking For An Insurrection’

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WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s argument that the Second Amendment provides the “ultimate check against government tyranny” is a bit too extreme for potential 2016 rival and fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn’t go down that road again,” Graham said, in an apparent reference to the Civil War. “I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets.”

Speaking to a few reporters near the Senate floor Thursday, Graham was answering questions from TPM about the Texas firebrand and presidential candidate’s argument made in a fundraising email that the Second Amendment confers a right to revolt against the government.

“The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty,” Cruz wrote in the email Thursday, with the subject line “2nd Amendment against tyranny.”

Graham demurred. “I’m not looking for an insurrection. I’m looking to defeat Hillary,” he said. “We’re not going to out-gun her.”

While a consistent supporter of gun rights, Graham voiced a more mainstream legal view of the Second Amendment, as the Supreme Court first articulated in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, that individuals have a right to possess a firearm for lawful self-defense.

“I think the Second Amendment allows people to protect their homes and their property and be secure in their persons,” the senator said. “I think in a democracy the best check on government is voter participation. I think the First Amendment probably protects us more there.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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