Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an opinion piece which appeared in The New York Times Tuesday, arguing for the total repeal of the Second Amendment.
Stevens, who retired from the high court in 2010, wrote favorably of Saturday’s “March For Our Lives” demonstrations, but suggested gun control supporters are far too modest in their goals.
“The demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform,” he said. “They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”
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Stevens wrote the principal dissent in D.C. v. Heller, a landmark Second Amendment case that affirmed for the first time the right to maintain firearms in the home for self-defense. Writing for himself and Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer, Stevens argued the amendment secures the right to posses guns in connection with service in state militias.
The provision was included in the Bill of Rights, he explained, given national anxieties about the tyrannical potential of a permanent standing army. He further pointed to the simultaneous provisions of state constitutions which explicitly establish a right to keep firearms for self-defense, in contrast to the federal Constitution, which mentions guns only in the context of militias.
He revived these themes in Tuesday’s opinion piece, calling those concerns “a relic of the 18th century.” He added that the current Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence derives largely from NRA propaganda.
The Court has said very little about the Second Amendment since 2010, when it applied the Heller decision against state and local governments. Their silence has been a point of consternation for gun rights activists, as lower courts have upheld a range of gun control laws in recent years.
Stevens joined the high court in 1975, an appointee of President Gerald Ford. He was succeeded by Justice Elena Kagan.
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