Retired Republican Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is calling on lawmakers to repeal the Second Amendment, decrying the right to bear arms as outdated and misunderstood.
In an op-ed published by The New York Times, Stevens said that “schoolchildren” and anti-gun violence advocates should press lawmakers to repeal the amendment all-together rather than pushing for new restrictions on semi-automatic weapons and strengthening background checks for gun purchases.
“That support is 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,” Stevens wrote.
“But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform,” he continued. “They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”
The 97-year-old argued that the amendment – which 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” – is a “relic of the 18th century.”
Stevens, who retired from the court in 2010, argued that repealing the amendment would be the most effective way to stop school shootings.
“That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform,” Stevens said. “It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world.”
In his op-ed, the retired justice also railed against the 2008 Supreme Court District of Columbia v. Heller decision that established an individual right to bear arms.
“That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power,” Stevens said. “Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”
The op-ed came three days after millions of protesters gathered in cities across the country to demand an end to gun violence. The March for Our Lives rallies were organized in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last month.