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Opposing gun groups take opposite stands on Kagan

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pro- and anti-gun control groups have differing views on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan
  • National Rifle Association warns senators against voting for Kagan's nomination
  • Brady Center to Prevent Gun violence announces its support for Kagan
  • Senate Judiciary Committee concludes confirmation hearing on Kagan on Thursday

Washington (CNN) -- Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan received a mixed reaction Thursday from groups on opposite ends of the gun control debate.

The National Rifle Association announced it will oppose President Barack Obama's choice to sit on the high court, while the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced its support for Kagan's nomination.

The NRA, a powerful lobby group, warned senators of severe political consequences if they end up supporting the nominee.

A statement by top NRA officials said Kagan has "repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility" to gun rights while working in Democratic administrations and academia.

"She should not serve on any court, let alone be confirmed to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land," said Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, who told senators that the vote on Kagan "will be a part of future candidate evaluations."

Kagan concluded her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. On Thursday, the committee planned to hear from several panels of witnesses both for and against the 50-year-old lawyer.

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Democrats openly predicted Kagan would be confirmed by the committee and the full Senate. A Senate vote on her nomination to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens is expected by the end of July, in plenty of time for her join the bench before the court's term begins in October.

Kagan did get the endorsement of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Her testimony has provided ample reason to think that she will interpret and apply the Second Amendment consistent with the urgent need to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people," said the group's president, Paul Helmke.

Gun rights became a key topic during Kagan's confirmation hearing. The same day that the Senate committee hearing began, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling affirming the idea that the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" is a fundamental individual right. The 5-4 conservative majority limited the ability of states and cities to pass overly restrictive gun regulations.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was one of four liberal dissenters in that case. The NRA last year opposed her elevation to the high court in what was the first time the powerful lobby had weighed in on a Supreme Court nominee.

Kagan herself offered few specifics on how she would vote on future gun rights cases, if confirmed to the bench. She did note that high court rulings over the past two years affirming an individual right to ownership for self-protection was "settled law" deserving full consideration as legal precedent.

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