Karofsky: Lawmakers can ‘limit people’s possession of firearms’

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By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Liberal Supreme Court justice candidate Jill Karofsky has been guarded in discussing most legal issues, but her comments over time give a pretty clear indication about where she stands on the Second Amendment. 

To the Dane County Circuit Court judge, the constitution is flexible on gun rights. 

“I think that there are ways that are constitutional that we are able to limit people’s possession of firearms so that we’re able to live in a country where we don’t have to send our kids to school for code-red drills,” Karofsky was quoted as saying last month in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story. 

Does than mean she would vote to uphold the kind of gun-confiscation laws (Red Flag laws and government-led gun buyback programs) Democrats like Gov. Tony Evers have been pushing? Karofsky won’t say. She did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment regarding her views on the Second Amendment and gun control. 

We do know that the judge has repeatedly invoked the “Code Red drill” imagery and many of the left’s talking points on gun violence. 

“When I talked to my kids, I asked them, ‘I’m thinking about running for Supreme Court. What are you concerned about?’ My kids are concerned about gun violence, they don’t want to go to school for code red drills anymore,” she said during a WisconsinEye interview last month. 

She took her fear narrative further. 

“What I am saying is I’m concerned about gun violence, and that when I talk to my kids, look my kids can tell you where you sit on a toilet seat if there is an active shooter in your school, and you happen to be caught in the bathroom, that’s what they’re learning in school,” Karofsky said. 

Karofsky’s views on limiting “people’s possession of firearms” have been attacked by Second Amendment defenders and the conservative candidate she is trying to unseat, Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. They see the Dane County judge as just another liberal activist set on interpreting the law to reflect her personal beliefs. She has denied the claim.

Last month, Karofsky told the Milwaukee Bar Association that she rules against her personal and political beliefs “on a weekly, if not daily basis.’ 

In reading the federal and state constitutions, Kelly has said he strictly adheres to their text and historical meaning, and that philosophy fully applies to gun ownership.  

Kelly told the Milwaukee Journal he found no errors in District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that reasserted the right to bear arms is an individual right. That’s when Karofsky made her comment about finding constitutional ways to limit the possession of firearms. The other liberal in the race, Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone, called the Heller decision “judicial activism on the right,” but he said overturning it would only “turn these issues into political footballs.”

Karofsky certainly isn’t opposed to firing off verbal rounds at her conservative opponent. Kelly recently accused her of slander for claiming the justice always rules in favor of “right-wing” special interests, even as Karofsky draws her base of support from left-wing interests. 

Empower Wisconsin’s Josh Waldoch contributed. 

Karofsky: Lawmakers can ‘limit people’s possession of firearms’