Repealing the Second Amendment got no support from legal practitioners and scholars interviewed by Bloomberg Law amid new controversy over the right to bear arms triggered by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and amplified by President Donald Trump.
“While motivated by a reasonable desire to reduce gun violence, Stevens’s proposal to repeal the Second Amendment is a mistake,” Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA and author, told Bloomberg Law.
At bottom, Winkler said the constitutional provision doesn’t hinder gun-control efforts. He suggested that repeal feeds the National Rifle Association’s “narrative that people are coming for your guns” and makes it harder to enact meaningful reform.
Gun rights lawyer Jim Astrachan, of Astrachan Gunst Thomas PC in Baltimore, told Bloomberg Law that “it is a horrible idea to suggest that the Constitution be amended to reflect ideas, or ideology, that are currently popular.”
Stevens’ proposal is nothing more than “a back door approach” to promote his losing efforts in Heller, he said, referring to his dissent in the 2008 Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized the right for individuals to bear arms to protect their homes.
Stevens argued in a March 27 opinion piece in the New York Times that Heller jettisoned the long held interpretation that the Second Amendment was tied to the efficiency of a well-regulated militia and provided the NRA with a powerful propaganda weapon.
Inspired by the March 24 “March for Our Lives” in Washington and elsewhere, and overall sentiment following the Parkland, Fla., school massacre in February, Stevens called the amendment a “relic of the 18th Century.”
The fallout from the massacre “is a clear sign to lawmakers” to enact an array of gun-control measures, he wrote. “But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”
Trump tweeted in response: “THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!”
At the same time, the president used the controversy to leverage support for Republicans ahead of the 2018 congressional midterms.
Winkler, who also authored the book “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” said that the Second Amendment “is not a significant barrier to good and effective gun reform.”
He noted that “the courts have upheld the vast majority of gun laws and virtually all of reforms sought by major gun control organizations—universal background checks, limits on AR-15s, and raising the gun age—are all constitutional.”
Hannah Shearer, the Second Amendment Litigation Director at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, said it’s clear that many effective gun safety policies would be possible under the Constitution if elected officials didn’t toe what she called the gun lobby’s extremism.
The “biggest barrier to reforming America’s gun laws is the political system, not the Second Amendment,” she said. NRA-backed politicians oppose “even modest firearm regulations that raise zero Second Amendment concerns, like background checks, child access prevention laws, and design safety standards for firearms,” she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2018 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)