Leaders in the Second Amendment community wasted no time, and very little diplomacy, reacting to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens’ advice to high school gun control marchers to “demand repeal of the Second Amendment” in his New York Times Op-Ed published Tuesday.
CFL’s Joe Newby earlier reported on Stevens’ lengthy diatribe against the right to keep and bear arms that is creating lots of discussion across social media.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation – the organization that has filed and fought dozens of gun rights lawsuits over the years – said Stevens “has never been a friend of the Second Amendment.”
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“For Stevens to publicly advocate repeal of the Second Amendment is hardly surprising,” Gottlieb said. “He’s never liked it.”
Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association as head of the organization’s Institute for Legislative Action, was no less critical of the retired jurist’s viewpoint.
“The 97-year-old retired justice has long held the opinion that American citizens do not have the individual right to own a firearm for self-protection,” Cox said in a statement released Tuesday. “Emboldened by the mainstream media, the gun-control lobby is no longer distancing themselves from the radical idea of repealing the Second Amendment and banning all firearms.
The protestors in last week’s march told us with their words and placards that the current debate is not about fake terms like ‘commonsense’ gun regulation. It’s about banning all guns.”—Chris Cox, executive director of NRA/ILA
“The men and women of the National Rifle Association,” Cox continued, “along with the majority of the American people and the Supreme Court, believe in the Second Amendment right to self-protection and we will apologetically continue to fight to protect this fundamental freedom.”
And former NRA President Marion Hammer, serving as head of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, was blunt: “Since Justice Stevens is retired he is free to use his First Amendment right to disparage all of the other rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and we are free to ignore him.”
Stevens wrote the dissenting opinion in the landmark 2008 Heller ruling that defined the Second Amendment as protective of an individual right to keep and bear arms beyond service in a militia. The former Justice argued in his dissent that, “The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia.”
But Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who authored the majority opinion in that case, included a scathing rebuttal to Stevens’ contentions. At one point early in the ruling, Scalia ridiculed one of Stevens’ contentions about the Second Amendment as being “worthy of the mad hatter.”
Then, dismissing Stevens’ reliance on a 1939 Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Miller, Scalia wrote, “And what is, according to Justice STEVENS, the holding of Miller…? That the Second Amendment ‘protects the right to keep and bear arms for certain military purposes, but that it does not curtail the Legislature’s power to regulate the nonmilitary use and ownership of weapons.’ Post, at 2823.
“Nothing so clearly demonstrates the weakness of Justice STEVENS’ case. Miller did not hold that and cannot possibly be read to have held that,” Scalia scolded.
Wrapping up his remarks, Stevens complained that removing 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.”
By authoring his 520-word attack on the Second Amendment, Stevens has raised a question that could long be nagging people on Capitol Hill: How could a man so hostile to a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights have ever been confirmed to sit on the highest court in the land?