29 March, 2018, 02:25 | Author: Austin Daniel
  • Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens testifies before a Senate committee in a file

In 1823, Charles Sumner, one of the leading thinkers of the American Enlightenment, noted that if the population of the United States "like that of Europe, chiefly consisted of an unarmed peasantry" it would be conquerable.

A decade on, Stevens remains convinced that decision was "wrong and certainly was debatable", and that it has handed the NRA "a propaganda weapon of enormous power".

President Trump is standing up for law abiding gun owners by telling gun control advocates the Second Amendment will never be repealed. We need to look back at his dissenting opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, joined by liberals Justice Souter, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer, to get a sense of his disdain for any continuing relevance of the Second Amendment in today's society.

Experts say there are two ways to go about it.

Mr. Stevens filled his dissenting opinion with a strained reading of the text and history of the Second Amendment to assert that its sole objective was the preservation of state militias to protect against the excesses of a standing army or a foreign invasion. Just as the First Amendment protects modern communication and just as the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends to guns that were not in existence at the time of the founding. He calls the Second Amendment a "relic of the 18th century", concerned more with the balance of power between the states and the federal government than with individual gun rights.

People hold their hands up as directed by musician Brandi Carlile at Seattle Center during the March for Our Lives rally, March 24, 2018 in Seattle.

The overwhelming majority of amendments have not passed, and only one has been repealed.

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While it's theoretically possible to change the Constitution this way, "that's never happened since the Constitution was ratified", said Kevin McMahon, an expert in constitutional law and a professor of political science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 2016, President Barack Obama felt compelled to publicly state that "I believe in the Second Amendment" as he announced a set of extremely limited executive actions on guns. But it's hard to find polling on the idea of repealing the Second Amendment, which should tell you something.

Republicans, who typically run on a platform of supporting gun rights, now control 32 state legislatures, per data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor, argued that such a repeal would do little to change USA gun laws, especially in states that are resistant to gun control.

"I would never say it's impossible", but "it is very hard to enact a constitutional amendment", he said.

South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham has some harsh words for a retired Supreme Court justice who wants to repeal the Second Amendment.

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard", he said of Stevens' argument. He also said that he is a great fan of the NRA.

But if you think the Second Amendment antiquated, that's fine.


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