In her first weeks as dean of Harvard Law School in 2003, Elena Kagan put the warring sides of the gun-rights debate in a room and let them fight it out.

The debate between gun-control advocates and 2nd Amendment purists was sponsored by the law school’s target shooting club, and Kagan showed her support by moderating the exchange. But her own views on gun rights went unaired.

With her Supreme Court confirmation pending, those views now have become of extreme interest to pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association. The NRA is already skeptical it can support Kagan — and in Washington, when the NRA gets worried, senators become nervous.

“There are serious problems,” said Andrew Arulanandam, public affairs director for the NRA. “We will work with senators to make sure tough questions are asked during hearings.”

A concerted effort by the NRA to scuttle Kagan’s confirmation could prove problematic for Republicans and moderate Democrats who fear falling from its good graces.

There appears to be enough evidence to stoke the NRA’s concerns. Kagan worked in the Clinton administration for four years, first as a lawyer in the White House and later as a senior domestic policy advisor. Gun-rights advocates already have locked in on a 1997 Kagan memo that paved the way for an executive order banning dozens of semiautomatic weapons as an example of the nominee’s anti-gun views.

They also point to Kagan’s background working for judges, such as federal Judge Abner Mikva, who later brought Kagan into the White House to serve as his deputy and who once likened the NRA to a “street-crime lobby.”

But Kagan more recently has pledged her fidelity to the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in the case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, which found a constitutional right to own a handgun for personal protection. The White House maintains Kagan would view her role as a justice differently from that of a policy-crafter in the Clinton White House.

“As a White House aide, Elena Kagan provided legal advice and evaluated policy proposals for President Clinton, whose views on these issues were well established,” said Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman. “In her confirmation hearing for solicitor general, Ms. Kagan made clear that she considered Heller to be settled law, and the upcoming hearing will present the opportunity for further questions about her views of the law to be asked and answered.”

Source: MCT for the Joplin Globe.

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In her first weeks as dean of Harvard Law School in 2003, Elena Kagan…