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Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Calls For Repeal Of Second Amendment

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said the Second Amendment is "a relic" and should be repealed.
Danny Johnston
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said the Second Amendment is "a relic" and should be repealed.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, responding to this past weekend's March For Our Lives events across the nation, is proposing what some might call a radical solution to prevent further gun violence — repealing the Second Amendment.

In anop-ed in Tuesday's New York Times, the 97-year-old Stevens writes that a constitutional amendment "to get rid of" the Second Amendment "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."

The Second Amendment states 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." Stevens called that concern "a relic of the 18th century" and says repealing it would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States.

Stevens, who retired from the court in 2010, had two years earlier dissented in District of Columbia v. Heller, which determined the Second Amendment allowed an individual right to bear arms. Stevens says he remains convinced that decision was wrong and debatable and provided the National Rifle Association with "a propaganda weapon of immense power."

Stevens' call for repeal of the Second Amendment goes further than most gun control advocates, many of whom have called for banning certain types of weapons and establishing stricter background checks and age limits but for not changing the Constitution.

Stevens' proposal immediately lit up Twitter and social media.

At least one of the Parkland, Fla., students, Cameron Kasky, reacted to Stevens' op-ed arguing it was "very interesting considering who wrote it," but "I don't feel the same way."

A mass shooting last month at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland left 17 people dead and is the catalyst for the "March for Our Lives" movement.

While Stevens claimed such an action would "be simple," it likely would be anything but. Amending the Constitution requires securing two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate — and then three-fourths of the states would have to ratify the amendment.

Our colleague Ron Elving has much more on the many barriers to amending the Constitution here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.