Retired High Court Justice: Repeal Second Amendment

John Paul Stevens
John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens, retired associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, writes in a commentary for The New York Times, “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.”

From Stevens:

Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

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.

Full commentary here.



  1. Repeal that 2nd Amendment because I’m sure the framers of the Constitution are rolling over on their graves to see how it’s being misused and misapplied in the 21st century. While it was necessary and needed in the 18th century of America’s existence its no Longer relevant in the 21st century.

    1. A new Quinnepiac poll has the Democratic Party winning the House of Representatives by 15%, a margin attributed to the GOP’s obeisence to the National Rifle Association, among other issues normal people have with the one-time party of Lincoln.

      After Stephen Paddock opened fire in Las Vegas, firing more than 1,100 rounds  in ten minutes, leaving 58 people dead and leaving 851 injured, Mitch McConnell, Orin Hatch, Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP’s leadership on Capitol Hill offered “thoughts and prayers” as if gun control legislation was not their responibility. The people of the United States of America are tired of “thoughts and prayers,” tired of Senators and Congressmen beholden to the NRA and it’s campaign money. Only the pharmaceutical industry has as much clout.

  2. All the gun owners will go nuts if this happens If it came to a vote I would vote to get rid of or heavily modify the 2nd amendment. Many, many people own guns who have no business owning guns. Yeah they know how to shoot them but they dont know how to properly secure them.
    Until this amendment can be removed I think if you have an illegal gun you get 5 years in prison no plea bargain. If you own a gun stolen in a burglary and used in the commission of a crime the gun owner should get 2 years in prison no plea bargaining.
    This bullshit about the bad guy being stopped by the good guy with a gun is bullshit in most cases.

  3. Stevens wrote that abolishing the Second Amendment, “a relic if the 18th century,” would severely limit the National Rifle Association’s ability to influence gun control legislation. He’s right. That amendment was written when the nation was at war with Great Britain. We now have well regulated militias: the army, national guard nd reserves, navy, air force and marines; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ATFE, U.S. Marshals, the deoartment of the Treasury ( tasked with enforcing currency laws and protecting elected officials); state and municipal law enforcement agencies.

    The March For Our Lives should set its sights higher. The midterm elections will be here before you know it. Several incumbent careerist politicians in the House, Senate and state kegislatutes will be looking for suitable employment a month later.

  4. Steven’s provides a simple, efficient (in theory) solution to the horrible, multiplying, intensifying problem (more definitively — mortal societal threat, in this regard) of random, firearms-enabled, mayhem and mass-murder perpetrated by mal-developed brains/psyches in the context of this country’s absurd idolization of firearms and the unlimited right to possess (which has been accomplished as a $-driven propaganda exercise by the amoral NRA, et al. — which, of course, is (are) just a “front(s),” advocacy organization(s) for the firearms manufacturing/retail industry…

    But, while this is a (theoretically) “clean,” efficient route to the worthy goal of the prevention of mayhem and murder by sick/deficient/mal-developed and criminal minds,
    as we all know, from history, changing the Constitution is always an arduous, and often unsuccessful effort, always with an excellent chance of deficient content, always with a better-than-even chance of repeal (e.g., Prohibition, ERA…). Of course, there have been successful efforts, but they have taken years, and even wars…

    So: Theoretically, Steven’s has a great idea, but on a pragmatic level, not a very promising chance of ever happening…

    There are so many questions… Obviously, providing that after some period of time and intense national political strife such a repeal could be accomplished, there would be a need to replace it with something else (no doubt, probably of great, legal complexity)…

    Indeed, if we succeed in repealing the 2nd Amendment, does the question of gun ownership become a state/local issue with potentially arbitrary parameters? Could it then become an even more fractious issue between states and localities?

    If we repeal, it would seem that we would have to replace with something firm and simple… But what form could that take… All modern firearms — and multiplicities of such, owned by unstable/criminal individuals or small affiliated groups — still present extreme threats of murder and mayhem…

    I suppose that if we repealed and replaced with a ban on all private gun-ownership with the exception of certain-caliber, solid projectile, single-barrel, muzzle-loaded rifles, limited to the type/description of those available in 1787 in the continental US, it might be possible to develop and attempt to implement a workable repeal/replacement of the Second Amendment before the retirement age of the bulk of the millennials…

    But not to be too pessimistic or negative… Something has to be done, and such an effort as Steven’s suggests is worth a try — but it better start soon — and “smart.” (He should assemble some of the best legal/political/organizational minds — including the brilliant, ballsy kids behind this past weekends events — in the country, along with some very wealthy supporters, and get moving!…)

  5. One more time:

    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.”

  6. It is a wee bit saddening that there are not more comments on this post. Gun violence is a fact of life in Bridgeport, Connecticut, every day, drug dealing street gangs protecting their turf or avenging every slight, real or imagined, with  the barrel of a gun. 

    After the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch and other Republican legislators offered “thoughts and prayers” as if petitioning a Supreme Being was gonna make it all better. After a gunman went in to Sandy Hook Elementary School to murder twenty school children and six adults they offered another round of “thoughts and prayers.” Gee, thanks. You guys are swell. After a gunman shot up the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, they offered (you guessed it, “thoughts and prayers.” Donald J. Trump had a listening session at the White House attended by parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook, victims of gun violence in Chicago, Orlando and Parkland, Florida. It was a photo op. Mr. Trump, bored by having to look “presidential,” offered noncommittal boilerplate rhetoric. At least he didn’t offer “thoughts and prayers.” 

    When I was back there in seminary school
    There was a person there
    Who put forth the proposition
    That you can petition the Lord with prayer
    Petition the Lord with prayer
    Petition the Lord with prayer
    You cannot petition the lord with prayer! 

    Can you give me sanctuary
    I must find a place to hide
    A place for me to hide
    Can you find me soft asylum
    I can’t make it anymore…

    This time those thoughts and prayers were answered. Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and other survivors organized the March For Our Lives which drew more than a million attendees around the nation. Sure, a few adults helped with the logistics but the impetus came from the students. They seized their moment, a moment that has blossomed into a movement. 90% of the marchers are eighteen years and older. Over the summer many of the remaining 10% will celebrate their eighteenth birthdays by registering to vote. The GOP’s control of the House of Representatives was in doubt well before March 24th. Now it is a forgone conclusion the party will lose its majority in the House and most likely the Senate as well, all because of those pesky “thoughts and prayers.” 

    1. By the way: MFOL drew over 200,000 to the mall in Washington DC. That’s more than twice as many turned out for the inauguration of the Pussy Grabber In Chief.

  7. Derek, I understand your concerns about the lack of response on this subject matter, but no one gives a DAMN until it’s their children or family member that dies. In America, we are free to stockpile weapons. We are free to order ammo online. We are free to outfit our guns with bump stocks, like the Vegas shooter did. We are freed to buy military grade weapons. This is the price we pay for freedom, alright. The freedom to not give a damn.

    Tweeting “prayers for the victims” does not equal giving a damn. Feeling bad for a day or two does not equal giving a damn. Changing your Facebook profile photo to support the victims does not equal giving a damn.

    Giving a damn requires us to commit to solving the problem. And the fact is, we have a serious problem in America with gun violence. Most of America dont give a Damn or won’t give a DAMN until their children are murdered at school, at the movies, playing outside or at church.

    1. People DO give a damn, Donald. David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and other survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting have become the faces of the gun control movement. The adult world has unable and/or unwilling to affect meaningful change in the subject. It took a bunch of teenagers, school children to galvnize the public. Adults have been unable to persuade the adulys sitting in Congress. Finally, the children themselves stood up and said “Enough with this! We’re tired of dying, tired of our classmatrs dying, tired of the physical and emotional wounds. You can’t do anything? We can…”
      This is a movement that is not going to fade away. These young people mean business.

      The GOP is in deep shit. A political endorsement is the same as wearing a tee shirt emblazoned with the slogan “DON’T VOTE FOR ME, I’M AN ASSHOLE!”

  8. An update…

    Fox News blowhard Laura Ingraham issued an apology to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior David Hogg after stepping in the shit for mocking him:

    “The apology highlights the growing power of Hogg and other students from the Parkland school, who have become national figures in the fight over gun violence.

    “Ingraham apologized to Hogg a day after her initial tweet as she and her advertisers came under enormous criticism on social media — and as sponsors withdrew their support.

    “Hogg and his classmates last week led a march in Washington, D.C., that called attention to gun violence. They have become mainstays on cable television, and several have amassed large social media followings.

    “So far their efforts have not led to significant changes to gun laws in Washington, but the battle with Ingraham suggested again that the influence of the Parkland students is not fizzling in any way.”

    From The Hill

  9. Thank God this old fart no longer sits on the bench. I feel for David Hogg and the other survivors of the Parkland shooting but the reality is 95% of school shootings happened in gun free zones and the largest was committed by a guy with a handgun not a semi high capacity magazine rifle. The one thing that no one wants to discuss is mental health. Why? Because the establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle are in bed with Big Pharma. The Parkland shooter as were many of the mass killing shooters were on psychiatric medication and if you’ve seen the commercials for them the greatest side effects are thoughts of suicide and further depression. This great Republic has been invaded twice in it’s existence. Both by England and they were repelled by not only the military but by armed citizens. Yes there are those who should not have a gun, but there are also millions of us who are responsible enough to possess them. As I stated earlier super powers like Russia and China think twice about trying to invade us because they would be in a world of hurt if they tried. You want to deal with the issue of gun violence in America, then deal with the mental health issues first don’t be afraid of reopening mental institutions. And don’t try to find a cure for the problem with opioid medication that has terrible side effects. God bless America.

  10. NRA propaganda, mental health problems and gun violence. There are mistaken, widespread belief that acts of violence are driven by mental illness. Studies have found that of all violent acts in the U.S., less than five percent of violence in the U.S. is attributable to mental illness. While people who commit violent acts certainly have a host of problems that lead them to become violent, in the vast majority of cases, a treatable mental illness is NOT the cause. It should also be noted that the category of mass violent acts includes domestic/family violence, which are a much more common form of violence than public mass shootings.

    Data shows that people committing violent acts are much more accurately characterized by other factors, such as a prior history of aggression, including domestic violence, often with a criminal record including convictions of violent misdemeanor crimes; and of alcohol and drug related offenses. Impulse control problems, trauma, rage, childhood adversity, desperation, financial strain, vindictiveness and narcissism.

    Guns are the problem in American society, not mental health issues. First it was people kill people, not guns. Now it’s people with mental issues kill people not guns. The common theme here is GUNS.

    1. Mental health is a red herring. Is anyone truly normsl? We are an imperfect species that worships a deity made in our own image. Another poster pointed out that George Soros funded the March For Our Lives. Hey, at least his money isn’t bloodstained.

      It’s not sust the school shooters. Stephen Paddock shot up a crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas. He was in his sixties. What about the gangbangers in Bridgeport that regularly employ guns to settle disputes over territory and “I saw youse lookin’ at mah gurlfren”? What about all the shootings nd murders in Chicago? It all breaks my heart,innocent lives lost because of the Second Amendment, innocent lives lost because Wayne La Pierre and the dues paying members of the NRA believe their precious right to oen firearms us more imoortnt thn public safety.

      The MFIL movement is showing no signs if fizzling out. It cintinues to grow. David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has a 4.0 GPA p. on Twitter Laura Ingraham mocked him for not getting into four colleges he applied to. He called for a boycott of the companies sponsering her FNC program. 7 of them withdrew advertising. This young man jnows gun violence firsthand and she mocked and belittled him. Of course she issued a lame halfassed apology but it was a day late and a dollar short. The advertisers are fleeing rather than be associated with a loudmouthed rightwing gasbag.

    2. Donald you and the rest of your delusional buddies need to realize one thing. The day the Democrats or Republicans think they have the balls to abolish the 2nd Amendment and take our guns is the day they will be in a world of hurt. We millions who practice proper gun safety will not just bow down and surrender our arms so that thugs and gangsters can prey upon us while we wait for the authorities to come to the rescue.The day the Democrats or Republicans try that is the day the first shots of the 2nd Civil War that is currently upon us will be heard. Yes Donald we are in another Civil War it just hasn’t become violent thanks to responsible gun owners.


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