Gun Laws & Legislation

Retired Supreme Court Justice Calls For Second Amendment Repeal

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Larry Keane

In the November 2016 election, gun-owning Americans turned out to tell the nation that their rights mattered. The election that prevented Hillary Clinton from entering the Oval Office also stopped her from packing the Supreme Court with justices who are hostile to the Second Amendment.

That result did not stop retired Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens from daydreaming a do-over on the landmark Heller decision, which affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and not just a prerogative of the government to form militias.

Justice Stevens has become convinced the time has arrived to repeal the Second Amendment. Stephens wrote a New York Times op-ed that demonstrators “should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

Heller and #GUNVOTE

Although the Heller decision is safe for now, Stevens knows it would only take another vacancy on the court to shift the balance. And if the Senate majority, which is held by the narrowest of margins, flips to control by now Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), instead of a court nominee with the approach of Justice Neil Gorsuch, we’re likely to see nominations like that of Judge Merrick Garland, who holds anti-gun views. Indeed, Judge Garland was part of an opinion that attempted to overturn gun rights before that case was joined Heller and heard in the Supreme Court.

For former Justice Stevens, the Heller decision is far from settled law. Instead, of that decision he writes, “…I remain convinced (it) was wrong and certainly was debatable…”

In the retired senior jurist’s comments, we see again why NSSF placed so much importance on our #GUNVOTE voter education campaign. President Donald Trump’s nomination of and the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the nation’s highest court to fill the seat left vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia died could not have been more important.

If gun owners choose to sit on the sidelines in the 2018 mid-term elections, it increases the possibility that Sen. Schumer will lead the majority in the Senate and then orchestrate who will sit on the nation’s highest bench.

It’s Difficult, But Not Impossible

Justice Stevens calls the Second Amendment a “relic of the 18th century” and observes impatiently that it’s ironic that the mechanism by which our nation repeals a Constitutional amendment is a relic of the same era.

The repeal process is written into Article V of the Constitution. Two-thirds of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate must vote to repeal. If that route isn’t offered, two-thirds of the states may call for a constitutional convention. Then, the proposed repeal amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states either through their legislatures or by ratifying conventions. So, 324 representatives and 67 senators or 34 states must agree to propose an amendment to supersede the Second Amendment and then 38 states would have to approve it.

Only then would anti-gun groups achieve their ultimate goal about which Justice Stevens, at least, is honest and clear. “It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world,” he wrote.

Don’t be mistaken. Your #GUNVOTE matters in 2018, more than ever.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.