Supreme Court Justice Stevens called for repealing Second Amendment to limit guns

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Four years ago, when – like today – the nation was reeling from the horror of a mass school shooting, a retired Supreme Court justice suggested a drastic solution: get rid of the second amendment.

John Paul Stevens made the call after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. The attack prompted hundreds of thousands to demand action the month following to end gun violence during the March for our Lives.

In a March 27, 2018, Editorial from the New York TimesStevens praised the protesters and their call for tougher gun control laws. “But protesters should seek more effective and lasting reform,” he wrote, about a year before his death at 99. “They should demand the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

Stevens said the amendment was passed over fears that a standing national army could pose a security threat to states. “Today this concern is an 18th century relic,” he wrote.

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He called the repeal a “simple but dramatic action [that] would bring Saturday Walkers closer to their goal than any other possible reform” and would make schoolchildren safer.

But Stevens failed to recognize the Herculean challenge his proposal entailed, as there was (and remains) no chance that gun control advocates would win a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and a ratification by three-fourths of the states required for repeal.

Stevens’ proposal did not generate much momentum, but it was rebuffed by some fellow Liberals.

“I admire Judge Stevens, but his supposedly ‘simple but dramatic’ move to repeal 2d Am is AWFUL advice,” tweeted Laurence Tribe, professor of law at Harvard. “The obstacle to tough gun laws is political, not legal. Urging a politically impossible effort only strengthens opponents of workable reform.

Tribe expanded on his argument in a Washington Post op-ed, titled “The Second Amendment Isn’t the Problem.” “The NRA’s loudest rallying cry has been, ‘They’re coming for our beloved Second Amendment,'” he wrote. “Entre Stevens, left, boldly calling for the amendment to disappear, thus providing aid and solace to the gun lobby’s favorite argument.”

In his op-ed, Stevens wrote that the repeal was necessary to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling. District of Columbia v. Heller ruling that Americans had the individual right to bear arms. He was one of four dissidents in this case.

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“For more than 200 years after the Second Amendment was passed, it was uniformly understood to place no limits on federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation,” Stevens wrote in the ‘editorial.

Republican President Gerald Ford appointed Stevens to the court in 1975, at a time when Supreme Court appointments weren’t as politicized as they are today. Stevens eventually became one of its more liberal members. Although his 2018 proposal came to nothing, calls for repeal continue today.

“Who’s going to say on this network or any other network in the next few days, ‘It’s time to repeal the Second Amendment?'” liberal filmmaker Michael Moore challenged during a feisty appearance on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” this week.

“Listen, I support all gun control laws,” Moore said. “Gun control doesn’t make sense. We don’t need sensible things. We need some hard and fast stuff that’s going to protect us and our kids.

Writing in the New Republic On Thursday, Walter Shapiro, a fellow at NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice and senior lecturer in political science at Yale University, said “the hard truth is that the central problem is the Second Amendment itself. . And America will reel from one mass murder to the next unless the Second Amendment is repealed or the Supreme Court dramatically narrows its scope.

“As a starting point,” he added, “Democrats should abandon the outlandish formula, ‘No one supports the Second Amendment more than I do, but still. …’ Affirming loyalty to the Second Amendment has never convinced a single NRA supporter of a candidate’s sincerity, but that stopped thinking boldly about lasting solutions to America’s gun crisis.

The first shooting in an American school dates back to 1853. Its victim was a teacher.

But repeal was not a dominant cause. Just last month, President Biden said, “I support the Second Amendment,” although he said that didn’t mean people could get any gun they wanted. In the wake of this week’s massacre at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers, the president says the Second Amendment is not absolute and common sense gun control does not would not affect “negatively”.

Stevens’ op-ed came just a few years after he published a proposal to change the Second Amendment, in his book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution”, from a 2014 Washington Post opinion piece. Stevens suggested adding five words (in italics below) to the amendment: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state , the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia will not be violated. »

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