John Paul Stevens Stunned People Support Second Amendment

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, 99, said in an interview that he does not understand why his prior call to abolish the Second Amendment has not gotten more traction.

In the interview that was posted on SCOTUSblog, Stevens said the wave of mass shootings made him wish his dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller was stronger:

I think that interpreting the Second Amendment to protect the individual right to own firearms is really just absurd, and it’s also terribly important. It happens over and over and over again. I think I should have been more forceful in making that point in my Heller dissent.

He didn’t stop there:

It’s a characteristic of American society that is not shared by any other civilized country. I find it really mind-boggling that my suggestion that we ought to approach the problem by just getting rid of the Second Amendment really has not captured more popular support, because it’s so obvious that it’s an undesirable part of our government structure.

Back in 2018, shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Stevens wrote in an op-ed that student activism and protests were 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 Stevens went even further:

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.

This stance was not warmly received by supporters of the Second Amendment, with some saying that Stevens had validated gun-grabbing fears.

Stevens sat on the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010. [Image via Allison Shelley/Getty Images]

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