- Ex-Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
- Stevens argued that no legislation could implement gun-control measures and weaken the National Rifle Association as effectively as a constitutional amendment.
- He dissented from the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008, which broadened the court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment.
- Stevens’ view appears to be unpopular, even among the most ardent supporters of gun control.
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for a repeal of Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
He argued in a New York Times op-ed that a Constitutional amendment would do more to advance the gun-control movement than any other piece of legislation.
The op-ed, published Tuesday, came just days after hundreds of thousands of people across the country rallied at the March for Our Lives protests against gun violence. The demonstrations followed a deadly high-school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
“These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimise the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society,” Stevens wrote. “But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”
Stevens argued that the Second Amendment – which holds that “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” – was intended to protect Americans from a threat they no longer face in the 21st Century.
He went on to argue that a 2008 Supreme Court decision wrongly broadened the common interpretation of the Second Amendment, thereby arming the National Rifle Association with “a propaganda weapon of immense power.”
‘Not what we’re going for here’
Stevens was one of the four Supreme Court justices who dissented from the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling in 2008, which determined the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to possess firearms even without a militia affiliation.
Stevens – along with fellow justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer – argued in the dissent that there was no evidence the framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to trump Congress’ power to regulate civilians’ use of firearms.
But it’s unclear how popular Stevens’ argument is, even among the most ardent gun-control advocates.
Cameron Kasky, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who survived last month’s shooting and became a prominent face of the March for Our Lives movement, tweeted on Tuesday that he disagreed with Stevens’ op-ed.
“Not what we’re going for here, but very interesting considering who wrote it,” Kasky said. “Feel free to give it a read. I don’t feel the same way, but it’s an interesting point of view.”
Pushing to repeal the Second Amendment could damage the credibility of the gun-control movement, Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, argued Tuesday.
“Stevens’s call to repeal the [Second Amendment] is not only ineffective but worse: it makes it even harder to pass good gun laws today. It plays right into the hands of the @nra which can now point to this op-ed and say, ‘See, we told you they want to take away your rights and your guns,'” Winkler tweeted.