The vigorous public debate sparked by the inspiring activism of the teens who survived the Valentines’ Day massacre in Parkland Florida has reached a boiling point.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens weighed in on the controversial issue this morning in a startling op-ed piece for The New York Times in which he called for the Second Amendment itself to be abolished in order to solve the epidemic of gun violence that kills around 35,000 people a year.
Emboldened by the enormous turnout at this weekend’s March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. and the solidarity marches held across the country – in which nearly a million people participated – Stevens has declared that enough is enough.
“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.”
Rightfully dismissing the notion that we require a standing militia in order to free ourselves of a tyrannical government as a “relic of the past,” Stevens directly hits the National Rifle Association for perpetrating what Chief Justice Warren Burger once labelled “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.”
Indeed, the success in which the NRA has found in purchasing the votes of our politicians and stymying the desires of an overwhelming majority of the population is a brutal indictment of how deeply corruption has festered in our political system and of how little our elected officials care for their voters.
Stevens’ argument for repealing the Second Amendment is quite simple:
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.
The Constitution was not meant to be a static document; it is very ironic to see Second Amendment being held up as evidence that the Constitution is an immutable edifice when the Second Amendment itself was a change to the Constitution.
We’ve altered the Constitution several times in the past to rid our guiding documents of the codified white supremacy written into it three centuries ago; from the outset, the Second Amendment was steeped in ideas of white nationalism and used to enable violence against people of color, be they native or African slave.
While the gun nuts will certainly howl and bray at the thought of repealing their beloved Second Amendment – Infowars propagandist Alex Jones declared recently that gun control was “literally genocide” – you would have certainly found the very same sort of people decrying the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.
Gun ownership and gun culture in America is irrevocably rooted in concepts of racial superiority; when you consider the horrifying toll that gun violence wreaks on the American people every year, any reasonable person should probably agree that repealing the Second Amendment and passing strict firearm regulations is the logical and socially productive thing to do.
While we begin to disarm the civilian populace, we must take equal steps to begin demilitarizing our police forces and converting them back into the protectors of their communities rather than occupying armies using violence to keep the population in check.
They say that madness is repeating the same action over and over in hopes of achieving a different result; the complete lack of substantial reaction to the endless string of massacres and daily suicides that take the lives of so many is indicative of a deep mental dysfunction within the American people that we desperately need to snap out of.