Since the tragic Parkland shooting in February, the subsequent “March For Our Lives” movement has catapulted various arguments for and against gun control and the Second Amendment into the national consciousness. Many of these have replayed older debates with newer tragedies as their backdrop, but a New York Times op-ed written by a retired Supreme Court justice on Tuesday has taken a rather drastic step forward with its primary contention. According to John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1975 to 2010, now is the time to repeal the Second Amendment altogether.
Citing Saturday’s massive “March For Our Lives” demonstrations across the country, Stevens argued the movement was “a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation” restricting or prohibiting all kinds of exaggerated interpretations of the Second Amendment. (For example, “civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons.”) Though the 97 year old’s most forthright point came regarding the movement’s next step:
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides 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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.
Stevens also quoted former Chief Justice Warren Burger’s line about the NRA being “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” Despite Burger and most other judge’s then-popular interpretations of the Second Amendment’s limits, however, 2008’s landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller overturned that interpretation in favor of another that granted “there was an individual right to bear arms.”
One of four dissenters in that case, Stevens “[remains] convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable” and contends it gave the NRA “a propaganda weapon of immense power.” As a result, he argues in the Times, repealing the Second Amendment and overturning the Columbia v. Heller decision “would be simple” and greatly “weaken” the NRA’s lobbying power on all things relating to guns and gun control.
(Via New York Times)