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Justice Stevens to Youths: Repeal the Second Amendment

In a recent editorial opinion penned for the New York Times, retired United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had a clear message for the youth of today: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Justice Stevens explains that repealing the Second Amendment is now the clearest path to undoing the impact of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which he believes was decided incorrectly. Heller effectively invalidated gun control legislation and held that there is an individual right to bear arms within the Second Amendment. Justice Stevens believes the Heller decision "has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power."

The Appeal of Repeal

As Justice Stevens noted in his opinion piece, in 1991, Former Chief Justice Warren Burger criticized the NRA's campaign against federal regulation of guns as "one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime." Justice Burger noted that if the amendment requires the militia to be "well regulated" why shouldn't individuals be "well regulated" as well?

Justice Stevens, clearly inspired by the recent marches by youth groups in protest over the lack of gun reform advised that repealing the Second Amendment would be "simple and 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." In short, a repeal would allow states, and the federal government, to pass meaningful gun control legislation, and likely result in less gun violence and mass shootings nationwide.

NRA Fires Back

In response to the editorial, the National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist responded by pointing out that Justice Stevens is 97 years old. The response also explained that the justice has long espoused the view that "American citizens do not have the individual right to own a firearm for personal protection."

But despite his age, Justice Stevens seems to be in line with many young people today, particularly given the Justice's ending plea regarding his proposed repeal:

That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday's marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States -- unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.

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