14:07, March 27 154 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-27 14:07:20
Gun safety groups not convinced by retired justice's call to repeal second amendment

The highest-profile gun safety groups did not take up a call by retired supreme court justice John Paul Stevens on Tuesday for a repeal of the second amendment to the constitution, pointing to alternatives they said had broad popular support and would be more effective at curbing gun violence.

Stevens made the potentially inflammatory call to repeal the amendment, which describes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, in a New York Times editorial.

“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,” wrote Stevens, 97, referring to the National Rifle Association.

A repeal of the amendment, which some gun owners view as sacred, is not a priority for groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, Sandy Hook Promise and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Those groups have prioritized legislative solutions such as universal background checks, extreme-risk protection laws and restrictions on magazine capacities and assault weapons sales.

“The courts have overwhelmingly ruled that there is no inconsistency between second amendment rights and reasonable, commonsense gun safety laws, and states are already stepping up to protect people from gun violence,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, in a statement.

“If members of Congress fail to follow suit, the American people will throw them out this November.”

A spokesperson for the Brady Campaign released a statement saying: “Regardless of whether one agrees with the view of Justice Stevens or Justice [Antonin] Scalia on the meaning of the second amendment, the supreme court was in agreement that the second amendment allows for the common-sense gun reforms that the Brady Campaign and most Americans support.”

The late Scalia authored the majority opinion in a watershed 2008 ruling, District of Columbia v Heller, in which the high court held that the second amendment gives individuals the right to own a gun for self-defense. Stevens dissented.

Sandy Hook Promise declined a request for comment on Stevens’ proposal.

Support for new gun laws in the US has risen to historic highs following recent mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Parkland, Florida.

Hundreds of thousands of students and supporters rallied in Washington DC last weekend in a “March for our Lives”, to call for gun safety measures. An average of 96 Americans die each day in gun violence.

Stevens was nominated by President Gerald Ford in 1975 and retired in 2010. He has previously called for the second amendment to be revised to more explicitly confine gun rights to active members of a “well regulated militia”.

Amending the constitution would require the ratification by three-quarters of the states of an amendment approved by two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, or the convening of a new constitutional convention. The constitution was last amended in 1992, over congressional pay.

Topics