A liberal former Supreme Court justice, still outspoken and influential in retirement, is pushing to change the Constitution's Second Amendment in a way that could lead to massive gun confiscations in states.
John Paul Stevens, 94, who retired in 2010, would rewrite the Second Amendment in a way that would allow only state militia members to be armed, a radical change from the current lay of the land spelled out in several high court decisions.
In his new book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, being played up in the media, Stevens would make clear that only militias, not citizens, have a right to guns.
The current wording is: “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.” His proposal would read: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.”
In his book and interviews to promote it, Stevens said that shootings like the December 2012 school slayings in Newtown, Conn., sparked his anti-gun plan and made him more passionate about speaking out against private gun ownership, especially of handguns.
He told the PBS NewsHour that federal judges should not be involved in deciding gun ownership. “Well, it would be my ultimate hope that legislatures would decide the issues, and not be hampered by constitutional restrictions, because clearly, legislators are in a much better position than judges are to decide what could be permissible in different contexts.”
Stevens added, “The effect of the Second Amendment as it is now construed is to make federal judges the final arbiters of gun policy, which is quite, quite wrong, I think, and quite contrary to what the framers intended when they drafted the Second Amendment, to protect states from the danger that a strong federal armed force would have been able to the states of their own militias.”
The National Rifle Association was quick to react. “We strongly disagree with his viewpoint,” said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam from Indianapolis, where the NRA is holding it's week-long annual meeting. “Our Founding Fathers believed that the Second Amendment is the one right that secures all the others; while former Justice Stevens may disagree with them, this remains a historical fact,” he told Secrets.
In his book, Stevens claims that the court has wrongly expanded the Second Amendment. One decision he seems mad about was written in 2008 and ruled that the Second Amendment protects a civilian’s right to keep a handgun in his home for self-defense.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.