The NRA has actively twisted the meaning of the Second Amendment through aggressive propaganda campaigns, wrote retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Tuesday, leaving some Americans with the belief that the Founding Fathers fought for an individual right to bear arms. (Flickr, Creative Commons)
“That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform.”
By Julia Conley / 03.27.2018
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens took to the New York Times op-ed pages on Tuesday to call for a full repeal of the Second Amendment, calling it a “relic of the 18th century” wielded by the gun lobby as a “propaganda weapon of immense power.”
Though championing other demands for stricter gun control laws receiving attention amid outcry over mass shootings and gun violence, Stevens said “demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform.”
“They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment,” the judge argued. “That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform.”
Though the amendment is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been able to deploy massive political and cultural influence over recent decades in order to twist its meaning and has pushed the notion that any regulation of firearms is an infringement of an unalienable right.
Stevens reminded readers of the views of former Chief Justice Warren Burger, who led the Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986. Burger said in 1991 that the NRA’s efforts amounted to “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.”
“There wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment,” if he were writing the Bill of Rights in the present day, said Burger at the time.
Amid the dissent of Stevens and three other justices, in 2008 the Supreme Court decided that the Second Amendment should be understood to guarantee individual civilians the right to bear arms.
“Overturning that decision 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,” wrote Stevens. “It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States—unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.”