Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is the latest prominent figure to applaud student protesters calling for action on gun control. But in an op-ed published Tuesday in the New York Times, he says they should raise their demands to include—constitutional defenders, prepare yourself—a "repeal of the Second Amendment." Stevens frames his case from a legal perspective, arguing the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision cementing an individual right to bear arms, to which he dissented, altered the original intent of the Amendment, which had lasted for more than 200 years. In 1939, for example, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that limits could be placed on gun ownership as long as those limits didn't interfere with "the preservation or efficiency of a 'well regulated militia,'" Stevens writes.
That made sense since the Second Amendment was created out of a "concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states," says the Republican, who turns 98 next month. "Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century." But in helping change the Second Amendment's meaning through the 2008 decision, the National Rifle Association gained "a propaganda weapon of immense power," writes Stevens, who previously argued that the Second Amendment should be amended. "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," he adds. His full piece is here. (Read more opinion stories.)