Time and time again, anti-gunners have claimed they just want “common sense gun reform.” They’re not after all the guns. Even the Brady Campaign said it supports the Second Amendment.
When we don’t believe them, however, we are accused of being paranoid, and they try to use it as fuel to prove we’re people who shouldn’t own guns. They’ll repeat that no one is coming for our guns.
But then, they turn around and applaud the op-ed from former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in yesterday’s The New York Times.
That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.
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.
For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”
During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “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.”
In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.
Because the Court ruled against Stevens’ preferred opinion, we should repeal the whole damn thing so he’ll finally get his way.
Of all people, Stevens should understand the importance of having the means of self-defense. Two cases that get to the heart of why I am so adamant about self-defense occurred during his time on the bench.
Warren v. District of Columbia and Gonzalez v. Castle Rock both essentially found that law enforcement had no obligation to protect people. In Warren, it was argued that the police have a duty to protect the public as a whole, but not the individual.
Stevens, as I said, was on the Court during both cases. While he dissented in Gonzalez, his court opted not to hear Warren, essentially upholding the lower court’s findings. He was there, so he should at least have some understanding of the relevant case law.
If the government has no duty to protect us as individuals, and we have no constitutional right to keep and bear arms, then Stevens is arguing that we are meant to be powerless before tyranny, even if it’s the tyranny of the thug.
This isn’t the first time Stevens has proposed meddling with the Second Amendment. In 2015, he suggested rephrasing the amendment to read, “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 shall not be infringed.”
Clearly, he’s not a fan.
Justice Scalia was right in his opinion of the Second Amendment. A collective right, the right of the governmental entity like a formal militia, to keep and bear arms makes absolutely no sense. Why would the government need to protect its rights?
Further, the Second Amendment states “the people.” At no other point does that mean anything other than an individual right in any other part of the Constitution. It baffles the mind to see how Stevens can make these mental leaps.
But at least now he’s found a solution; repeal the Second Amendment.
Luckily for us, that’s not happening.
The mechanisms are in place for the Second Amendment, or any amendment, to be repealed like the 18th Amendment was. But the thing is, amending the Constitution is hard, and hard for a reason. It keeps the Constitution from being torn hither and yon with the whims of the masses. It requires a whole lot of people to support whatever measure is being proposed.
And a repeal of the Second Amendment? Not happening.
While it may be popular in places like California and New York, the majority of the states won’t back it. And since it requires two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and three-fourths of all the states to ratify it, in this day and age, it’s not happening.
Through it all, let’s remember former Justice John Paul Stevens, the man who is convinced we should repeal the Second Amendment.