Former Supreme Court Justice Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

A retired Supreme Court justice believes the March for Our Lives protesters are aiming too low by advocating for lawmakers to simply reform the nation’s gun laws.

“The demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform,” John Paul Stevens wrote in a New York Times op-ed published on Tuesday. “They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

Stevens argues that the amendment — which states “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” — was borne out of concern that a “national standing army might pose a threat to the security” of individual states and is “a relic of the 18th century.”

In 2008, Stevens was among four dissenters of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in a landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller, that held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms for self-defense.

“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,” Stevens wrote. “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.”

RELATED: Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally

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Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
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Notable signs from the March For Our Lives rally
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 24: A large group of Americans and French hold a March for Our Lives anti-NRA anti-gun rally on Place de Trocadero, facing the Eiffel Tower, on March 24, 2018 in Paris, France. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Owen Franken - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Possible contender for my fave sign of the day from Erica. She made it at 1am last night, she said laughing!… https://t.co/fPogWRYRZL
Best signs at #marchforourlivesSTL #marchforourlives #enough #endgunviolencenow https://t.co/w7oaK5QJEw
I love this sign and I wonder if it would trigger @DLoesch. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/QDU4rVDGk6
This sign deserves a pulitzer #marchforourlives (📸 @claremarienyc) https://t.co/9qHcEjbhq6
Enough said. #VetsVsTheNRA #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/9lLTgGrNbd
#SashayAway https://t.co/tGnrCnEqCK
I walked up as she was explaining the reference to an older gentleman https://t.co/KPyxmFsCAE
I’m at #MarchForOurLives In Boston and this is the best sign I’ve seen so far https://t.co/KhI9fPsORr
More signs here at #MarchForOurLives in D.C. https://t.co/TLxPr2vmbN
Listen to the youth. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/jprvl6iTD3
💕she’s 4! #marchforourlives https://t.co/4TddUG5xXO
A woman just walked up to this young girl and asked about her sign. “There was a shooting at my high school this we… https://t.co/likqtFRQfx
A protest sign during the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at a Florida high school, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Alex Edelman (Photo credit should read ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: A demonstrator holds a sign at the start of the March for Our Lives rally March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers, and parents are expected to gather for the anti-gun violence rally, spurred largely by the shooting that took place on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people died. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A woman hoists a poster featuring Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the February 2018 Florida high school shooting turned activist and advocate for gun control, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at the Florida high school, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. / AFP PHOTO / Eva HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - MARCH 24: People hold signs as they participate in the March For Our Lives event at Pine Trails Park before walking to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 24, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. The event was one of many scheduled around the United States calling for gun control after a gunman killed 17 people on February 14 at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Participants hold up signs as students and gun control advocates hold the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: A demonstrator is seen in the Mall near the student-led March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue to call for action to prevent gun violence on March 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 24: A protester holds up a sign disparaging the NRA at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 24: A demonstrator display her sign during the March For Our Lives Rally on March 24, 2018, at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Protestors hold signs during a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
People walk with signs against the NRA during "March for Our Lives", an organized demonstration to end gun violence, in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
DENVER, CO - MARCH 24: Kristin Miller (C), of Littleton, Colorado holds up a sign as thousands of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ross Taylor/Getty Images)
MORRISTOWN, NJ - MARCH 24: A demonstrators holds up a sign 'Really?' with a the scales of justice tipped more for guns than students outside the Morristown Town Hall during the March For Our Lives in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Morristown, NJ for the antigun violence rally after the events in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School which killed 17 people. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'Hey, Hey, NRA! How Many Kids Have You Killed Today,' while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold signs while gathering on 6th Avenue during the March For Our Lives in New York, U.S., on March 24, 2018. Thousands of high school students and other gun-control advocates gathered in Washington and across the U.S. Saturday to demand tougher firearms restrictions from an older generation that's delivered little change after years of mass shootings. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 24: A woman holds a banner reading 'Grandmas For Gun Control, Because Our Hugs Can't Protect Them From Everything' during 'March For Our Lives' protest against gun violence in the country on March 24, 2018 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Chris Williams/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Hundreds of thousands of people participated in Saturday’s anti-gun-violence marches in Washington, D.C., and numerous locations throughout the country, demanding Congress act to protect students in the wake of last month’s massacreat Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Many of the demonstrators chastised the gun lobby on signs and in speeches while expressing support for stricter background checks, an increase of the minimum age to buy certain firearms and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. But most did not call for an outright repeal of the Second Amendment as Stevens is suggesting.

“That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform,” he wrote. “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.”

National polls show broad support for measures to reduce gun violence, including universal background checks, age restrictions and a ban on assault weapons. A Fox News poll released on Sunday found 53 percent of American voters believe “protecting citizens from gun violence” is more important than “protecting the right of citizens to own guns,” compared to 40 percent who believe the opposite.

Meanwhile, gun rights activists say the weekend demonstrations were an “attack” on the Second Amendment.

In Washington on Saturday, David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and one of the organizers of the March for Our Lives, criticized television pundits for painting him as anti-gun.

“They’ve made it seem like I’m trying to take away people’s guns — that I’m against the Second Amendment,” Hogg said. “My father is a retired FBI agent. I have guns in my house. I’m not against the Second Amendment.”

Cameron Kasky, another Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, made a similar point on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We are not trying to take everybody’s guns away,” Kasky said. “My father was a reserve police officer. We have guns in our house. They are responsibly managed and hidden from anyone but him. The point is, we are not trying to take away everybody’s guns away and the NRA wants people to think that. They are fear-mongers. They want to sell weapons by exploiting people’s fears. So the second we want to put common sense resolutions on these assault weapons, the NRA will say they are trying to steal every single one of your guns and people believe them. Fortunately, the majority of the American people see past this.”

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