Elie Mystal: It's time to repeal the Second Amendment

Elie Mystal: It's time to repeal the Second Amendment
AP Photo/Wilson Ring

When we warn folks that gun control advocates are really pushing for the dissolution of your gun rights, we’re often called paranoid. The Second Amendment isn’t in any danger, they’ll tell us. No one wants to repeal it.


Of course, when we point out prominent voices calling for just that, we get ignored.

I don’t expect any different now that one of the anti-gun left’s favorite voices, Elie Mystal, is calling for exactly that.

And herein lies the problem: As long as this interpretation is the law of the land, effective gun regulation will be impossible. All serious efforts at gun regulation need to start from the premise that the government defines the parameters for “responsible” gun ownership, not the NRA, just like the state defines the parameters for responsible alcohol consumption, not Jose Cuervo.

That leads to only one logical conclusion: Repeal the Second Amendment and start over from presumption that you do not need a gun unless you are going off to war or going off to train for war.

You know who agrees that the Second Amendment should be repealed? The late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Writing in 2018 about the Heller decision, Stevens said this:

Overturning [Heller] via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.

Stevens recognized that repealing the Second Amendment is actually easier than the alternative, which is fighting for small-bore legal changes against the combined strength of archconservative judges. Republican judges and justices have now put so many bad Second Amendment precedents on the books that it will take generations to decouple their bad theories from the relatively benign text of the amendment, if it can ever be done at all.


Alright, if it’s easier to amend the Constitution–repeal of the Second Amendment would take a new amendment–than to pass gun control laws, then let’s see you try. Granted, I know Mystal thinks the Constitution is “actually trash,” but it’s the law and it’s what he’d have to deal with.

First, we need to remember that the Second Amendment doesn’t grant anyone the right to keep and bear arms. It preserves it. The Founding Fathers penned the Amendment to protect a right granted to us by virtue of being living, breathing people.

So repealing the Second Amendment won’t make that right go away. We’ll still have that right. What we won’t have is the protection it grants.

But Mystal seemingly recognizes that.

The existence of Republicans judges is just a stark reality we have to be willing to face: Repealing the Second Amendment is the only way to disarm these conservative judges and justices. Otherwise, we’ll have to wrest gun reform from their cold dead hands.

I hate to break it to Mystal, but if he wants to talk about “cold dead hands,” repeal the Second Amendment and see what happens. It won’t be pleasant.

Of course, if he thinks this is easier than passing gun control laws, he hasn’t looked at the political landscape of this nation.

As of right now, 25 states have constitutional carry. That means at least half the country values gun rights to such a degree that they have no permitting requirement for carrying a gun at all. Most of the rest have shall-issue laws on the books, meaning they don’t block any but a select few from being able to carry.


That’s a pretty good litmus test for how most of the country feels about the Second Amendment.

It’s not universal, of course, but it’s an indicator.

So what Mystal is trying to tell people is that it’s easier to get two-thirds of both chambers of Congress to approve of an amendment repealing the Second Amendment, then to get two-thirds of the states to agree to it as well than to actually make gun control happen?

Frankly, that’s fantastic news.

As things currently stand, there’s absolutely no chance of that happening, and if that’s the easy path, then we shouldn’t have to worry about gun control in our lifetimes at a minimum and possibly ever.


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