John Paul Stevens is a different man than John Paul Jones. Both were born around the same time. But Stevens has hung in there longer. His faculties may not have lasted so well however.
– so Stevens penned in the New York Times yesterday.
Let’s see what the old bow tie had to say (entirety):
Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.
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. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides 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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.
For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”
During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “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.”
In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.
That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of 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.
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.
Come on, Stevens! In your lifetime? The man has seen a lot. He surely remembers the Civil Rights Movement, the Civil War, and the Children’s Crusade of 1212. Like that latter episode, the current hubbub is as misguided, nefarious, and sure to be as ill-fated.
I’ve covered gun control previously and the kids’ march especially. While not backing off the issue I’ve urged restraint towards the young, uninformed, and naive children. However, I’ve said that those behind the mania should be held to account. Stevens falls into that category. I actually welcomed his editorial position as I figured, aged or not, he is among the very best the grabbers could offer.
I am sorely disappointed.
There’s nothing there. At all.
A sufficient counter argument to this tripe is: BULLSHIT!
Now we have that all settled…
It’s funny, almost. First, Stevens ran his editorial on a digital system – see that above link. This is 21st Century news. It’s different from older newspapers, say, from the 18th century. It’s kind of like the difference highlighted by the Times’s feature picture:
NYT. Yes, as corrected, that’s a musket up top….
Their point, his idiotic point, is that the one weapon was available when the 2A was enacted. The other, being a modern creation, was not and, thus, is not protected. Funny.
By the same illogic, the Times’s website, to say nothing of what you’re reading here and now, is not protected by the First Amendment. It’s not free speech nor free press. The only real, legal newsprint is print. If you don’t get news on low quality paper with blotchy ink from some young boy on the street corner, then you’re as bad as the NRA killing all those kids they never kill.
It’s also almost funny that the left wants to repeal something that, for an age, they denied existed. I appreciate their newfound honesty but it’s a little late in coming. They literally used to say the 2A wasn’t really part of the Constitution – despite it’s being right there in black and white. Conversely, they had no problem seeing Abortion floating in some nebulous prenumbra. Maybe one needs a bow tie to see it all clearly.
Prior to 2010 or so most Con Law textbooks were utterly devoid of any mention of the 2A. A few, like Lawrence Friedman’s, may scant mention, usually with a bare citation to Miller v. US (1939).
Why repeal something that’s not even real? My guess is a case of bad losering.
Stevens rests much of his “argument” on Miller. Liberals love to pretend that was the only court decision on the 2A prior to the 21st century. It was not. But it was perhaps the worst decided and most misinterpreted. So the Nine said civilians had no right to non-military quality arms. What does that mean? They didn’t say but one could easily extrapolate that, under their reasoning, only military-grade weapons qualify for legal protection against infringement. Probably not what the left had in mind. Of course, what the Court had in mind in 1939 later fell apart factually. In Vietnam soldiers made copious use of short-barreled shotguns. Hmmm.
At any rate, Heller and MacDonald cured the question of “does the Second Amendment really say what it plainly says?” It does.
Stevens dissented in Heller … and lost. They say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” He says, now, “if we can’t beat it, repeal it.” Good luck with that.
And, again maybe it’s the age thing – dunno, but here Stevens violates his own canons of legal interpretation. His approach, as detailed in The Shakespeare Canon of Statutory Interpretation, J. P. Stevens, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, April, 1992:
- Read the Statute
- Read the Whole Statute
- Read the Text in Contemporary Context
- Look into Legislative History
- Use Some Common Sense
Taking the 2A as what it is, a Super Statute, and applying those rules, one reaches an incontrovertible conclusion: the thing is what it is and means what it says. 1) the language is unambiguous. That should be the end of it. But: 2) it fits with the rest of the Bill of Rights. 3) Temporizing the thought, either then or now, it fits with the idea of individual liberty. 4) the Founders demanded an armed citizenry as deterrent of tyranny. 5) What do the various facts tell us?
No question should remain after the first four steps are utilized. If, however, one needs more proof to affirm the meaning and intent by number five, then one should analyze what’s going on with guns in America. Here, as with most logic, the left fails completely.
The facts tell us: armed citizens still stand in the way of tyrants; guns save lives; the innocent lives lost to guns are: few, offset by the many saved, only part of the greater number of regrettable homicides annually, tiny in comparison to lives lost to other means/things, etc.; having the highest number and percentage of private guns in the world, the US still has one of the lowest gun murder rates on the planet, and; even with all those guns, and with all the hideous social, economic, and legal changes in the country, there has been no great or noticeable change in gun usage of late.
But why look at the law and the facts? Heck, that’s what judges do. Maybe it’s better to listen to young know-nothings scream about anecdotes. Maybe it’s better to blame the NRA for things it had nothing to do with. Promote a little fear. A little hysteria. Some lies.
And, for what? The Second Amendment will not be repealed any time soon. Good luck assembling a Convention of the States. Better luck getting super majorities in Congress and the State Houses. They can’t even get more “meaningful” gun control through in regular statutory form – though they try.
What would the Stevens’s Amendment say? A plain repeal? How would that work or be worded? “The rights of the people are hereby infringed.” That’s what he’s suggesting. The natural right to arms is independent of any amendment or law. It’s just that in some places it is infringed upon, violated. Simply repealing the 2A would not necessarily ban guns from private hands.
Maybe he means to include that ban explicitly in the new language. “The right is infringed and the people are barred from keeping and bearing arms.” Perhaps there could be a specific exemption for 18th century antiques or the swords and slings of Stevens’s youth…
I’m glad Stevens spoke up. It’s good to know what the enemy is thinking, what they want. They want to disarm you and leave you utterly helpless before their other plans and actions. Once more, see the thoughts, words, and acts of [pick your favorite murderous dictator from history].
In his final decade on the Court Stevens voted to extend at least some basic rights to Americans declared and held as enemy combatants, enemies of the government and the people. That might work out well for him. Some, like Vox Day, suggest Stevens has, via his First-Amendment-unprotected speech, committed treason and should be arrested for it. Debbie Gun Control-Schultz (and any co-signers) too. It’s a strange new world we’ve entered. I’ll leave that alone except to say: 1) enemy combatants do not have to be arrested..., and; 2) hey, Stevens is old, 97 going on 1,000; why bother?
If this was their best, then their best won’t do. A rock group told me so. However, now that they’re being honest about the thoughts and desires, we had best keep an eye on these anti-freedom types. Freedom: defend it or lose it.
*This subject shall be the focus of a video retort for FP tomorrow, likely to be linked and reposted here. Stay tuned.