Calling it “a relic of the 18th century,” retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called Tuesday for the outright repeal of the Second Amendment, saying it would achieve “more effective and more lasting reform” than other efforts to curb the country’s scourge of gun violence.
In a New York Times op-ed, Stevens ― who as a high court justice dissented on a key gun rights case in 2008 ― praised the student demonstrators at Saturday’s March for Our Lives protests, saying that the thousands of marchers, led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, “demand our respect.”
Beyond pushing for stronger legislative measures, such as banning assault-style weapons and mandating background checks, he advised the movement to “demand a repeal of the Second Amendment:”
That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.
In 2008, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller was widely considered a victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights advocates, helping to cement a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and limiting legal grounds for gun control measures.
The ruling barred Washington, D.C., which has among the country’s strictest gun laws, from enforcing a ban it had on handguns and other gun requirements because they violated the Second Amendment.
Stevens, among the four justices in the court’s liberal wing who dissented in the case, wrote Tuesday that he still believes the ruling was “wrong and certainly was debatable,” arguing that it “has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power.”
“Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option,” he continued.