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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment 1633

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the invest-in-crossbows dept.
CanHasDIY (1672858) writes "In his yet-to-be-released book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, John Paul Stevens, who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court for 35 years, believes he has the key to stopping the seeming recent spate of mass killings — amend the Constitution to exclude private citizens from armament ownership. Specifically, he recommends adding 5 words to the 2nd Amendment, so that it would read as follows: 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.'

What I find interesting is how Stevens maintains that the Amendment only protects armament ownership for those actively serving in a state or federal military unit, in spite of the fact that the Amendment specifically names 'the People' as a benefactor (just like the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth) and of course, ignoring the traditional definition of the term militia. I'm personally curious about his other 5 suggested changes, but I guess we'll have to wait until the end of April to find out."
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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

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  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:04AM (#46767813)

    When the constitution was ratified, the militia was the only defense that the United States had, and all able bodied men were expected to be ready to serve.

    The Marine Corps was founded 10 November 1775. The consitution was signed 17 September 1787.

  • Re:No. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:05AM (#46767827) Homepage Journal

    I won't even bother with the logical fallacy that having weapons available supposedly makes everybody frantic murderers.

    Did anyone say that? But one thing's true, it makes murderers more efficient. Strangling people is exhausting.

  • by emag (4640) <slashdot@gurski.MENCKENorg minus author> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:11AM (#46767929) Homepage

    It's already part of 10 US Code 311 - Militia: composition and classes [], last passed in December 2013 by the House and March 2014 by the Senate...

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:16AM (#46768039) Homepage Journal

    Everyone should be armed.

    This is how Switzerland [] does it. They haven't been in a foreign war in two hundred years. Even Hitler decided not to try it.

    Their crime rate is very low and they actually have a civil defense plan that doesn't involve people hiding in closets and hoping somebody shows up to save them. Plus, obviously they don't need to incur all the costs of foreign wars, so they can run data centers, banking platforms, and ski resorts instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:17AM (#46768061)

    In Swiss law use, storage and transport of weapons is VERY heavily regulated. Everyone is armed, but you don't get to walk down the street with your SIG 550 or leave it propped up in your hall closet. There are insane rules on ownership, storage and transfer, and the penalties are incredibly severe. There is no comparing the US and Swiss systems. Anything but bolt-action or single-shot weapons (beyond your militia-issued weapon) require special permits.

  • by dlt074 (548126) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:27AM (#46768261)

    you sure can.

    the branch dividians purposely didn't pay the tax on their weapons in order to instigate a standoff with the Feds. if you pay the proper tax, you can legally own any of the weapons they were killed over.

    the FBI/ATF did not have to step in and stop it anymore then they have to enforce any other failure to pay taxes.

    the Man wanted blood and the dividians gave them an excuse. just remember, all those people died because they didn't pay the tax. money == freedom and in this case life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:28AM (#46768295)
    Pretty much everything the FBI accused the Branch Dividians of, they were not able to actually produce evidence of.
    No illegal automatic weapons

    No kiddy diddling (the entire reason for the raid).
    The charges that were actually upheld in court related solely to firing on federal officials. Whether or not they were justified is another can of worms.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:31AM (#46768337) Homepage Journal

    It wasn't a standing army. That is specifically why that amendment is there. If the US could \have afforded a standing army at the time, that amendment would not exist.

    The Marine corp was a group of militia that fought on ships in order to seize British supplies.

  • by pegr (46683) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:36AM (#46768423) Homepage Journal

    You really have no idea. Go find a Mosin Nagant, an ancient Russian military rifle capable of hitting a target at over 200 yards with a high-power round for about $100.

    Are expensive guns better than cheap ones? Sure! But there are cheap (and effective) guns for anyone who wants one.

    (A clip is not a magazine...)

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:38AM (#46768449) Journal

    Homicide rates in the United States have been dropping and are the lowest since 1906 or so. []

  • by sfsp (655361) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:42AM (#46768537) Homepage Journal

    You're probably ALREADY serving in the militia, by US law:

    Subtitle A - General Military Law

                    Ã 311. Militia: composition and classes

                    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

                    (b) The classes of the militia are --

                    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia;


                    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:42AM (#46768543)

    As an Australian, I can confidently say that it was the best thing that otherwise complete waste of right-wing space, John Howard, ever did.

    His confronting raving gun nuts at pro-gun rallies to face them down (in a flak jacket), was incredibly brave, and showed that an otherwise contemptible individual had at least a shred of moral fibre.

    Fun fact: not only did the gun buyback slash gun crime, it also halved the suicide rate -- people go through dark times, but by raising the bar to people 'going postal', Howard saved countless lives. Credit where it's due.

  • by DJ Particle (1442247) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:47AM (#46768655) Homepage
    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson, proposed Virginia constitution, June 1776. Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C. J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." Thomas Jefferson, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764, pp 87-88.

    "The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." Samuel Adams, During the Massachusetts U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

    "Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at the individual discretion, in private self-defense." John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787-88

    "I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." George Mason, during Virginia's ratification convention, June 4, 1788 (From J. Elliott, Debates in the General State Conventions 425 (3rd ed. 1937).

    "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of people, trained in arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country." James Madison, I Annuals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789)

    That was almost word for word the phrasing of the 2nd Amendment, which makes our 4th President essentially the author of said amendment. But he also had this further to say in "The Federalist", in which he DEFINES what it means:

    "The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." James Madison, The Federalist No. 46

    That last one was straight from the author of the amendment himself....
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:47AM (#46768667) Homepage Journal

    Yo should look a little deeper.
    A) Guns are seriously regulated, including need to account for every round. Good luck getting the level of regulation about firearm in the US.

    B) Crime is related to education. the better educated the general populace, the less violent crime there is. This has noting to do with firearms at all. We see this in countries regardless of gun laws. Do you argue that all education including college is free? Or are you just picking some headline stat and using that without actual any understanding?

    "Even Hitler decided not to try it."
    completely unnecessary to the conversation.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:48AM (#46768687)

    Well, yeah, raping children and giving them drugs

    Other than unsubstantiated allegations, there is no evidence for that. Some children made statements about abuse, but later retracted those statements and said they were pressured into making them. The FBI and ATF were caught lying about almost every aspect of the standoff, so they have zero credibility.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:58AM (#46768897)

    At the time there were limited arms (you took about 2 minutes to reload) vs able to empty a couple clips in that same amount of time, now.

    Umm, no.

    A flintlock could be fire three-four times a minute by a skilled shooter. One of Napoleon's guys could manage 12+ shots per minute....

    It should also be noted that at the time, there was no internet, television, or radio. Should the First Amendment be interpreted to not apply to the internet, radio, or TV?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @12:38PM (#46769637)

    Everyone should be armed.

    This is how Switzerland [] does it.

    "The vast majority of men between the ages of 20 and 30 are conscripted into the militia and undergo military training, including weapons training. The personal weapons of the militia are kept at home as part of the military obligations;"

    A person gets trained and screened by the military. Upon leaving the military, they can be licensed. The weapons are registered. Associated ammunition is inspected regularly.

    So almost entirely _unlike_ the system in the US?

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:05PM (#46770133) Homepage

    You really think most of the 1,000 folks there were wealthy?

    You can buy a decent 22 caliber semi-automatic rifle for $100. It's getting hard to do that for a pair of shoes.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:09PM (#46770175) Homepage

    Then you need to read more sir.

    If I told you that in order to file your next W2 you had to sign a form. That form stated that from henceforth, you can only earn 10% of what you are currently earning. You refuse to sign, cause that's ridiculous.

    Then I claim the reason we're arresting you is because you failed to pay taxes. BS. You failed to basically be put out of business.

    And please realize this has NOTHING to do with tortoises, just like California Central Valley issue had nothing to do with a tiny fish. This is ALL about water for urban Californian cities. That is why the Federal government used an environmental law to shutdown ranching in a huge portion of Nevada. In order to reduce the water usage so more was available to California.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:33PM (#46770493) Journal

    Terrifying. Unaccountable quasi-military organizations that tend to be high on ideology and low on reason. What happens if they were to try and pull the same shit to enforce their own rules (like they effectively did here) beyond just allowing a freeloader to not pay for grazing rights?

    They've been peaceful the whole time, and did nothing more than provide a presence and protest. The only difference between them and Occupy $location is the presence of firearms - none of which were brandished by the protesters, let alone used in a threatening manner.

    Honest question: Are you terrified because they don't share your ideology, or what?

    Managing land to keep it from being destroyed like it was during the Dust Bowl is important and costs money.

    The Dust Bowl was caused by a trifecta of over-farming, monoculture (wheat), and a massive drought - not grazing. It was also caused by activities performed primarily on private land, so the comparison is invalid on two fronts. Methinks you're reaching too much for hyperbole to support an otherwise somewhat valid point. Also, why does the federal government have to supply this management, instead of by the state whose borders encompass the land in question?

  • by thaylin (555395) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:38PM (#46770549)

    Lets remove the tortoises for the equation. This man has been using public lands to graze his cattle subsidized off our dime for 20 years. The price the BLM charges is way cheaper then it would be if he had to pay private owners/companies to let him graze..

    Next they were not arresting him from what I saw, they were removing his cows from PUBLIC land, where they had a lawful court order to remove them, yet he and his "friends" blocked and threatened those officers with violence.

    If this had been almost any other group the conservatives would have been calling them all sorts of names like welfare queens, lazy, whatever.

  • by taustin (171655) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:53PM (#46770773) Homepage Journal

    not only did the gun buyback slash gun crime

    But not, according to your own government, all crime, which went up.

    it also halved the suicide rate

    The gun suicide rate, but not, according to your own government, the overall suicide rate, which was unchanged.

  • Re: Bundy (Score:3, Informative)

    by thaylin (555395) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:20PM (#46771137)

    I keep seeing news clips from sources like MSNBC who are apparently on a mission to frame Bundy in that light (thief, welfare mooch, etc. etc.).

    If you look at it a little further though, I don't think it's quite that clear....

    First off, the entire argument centers around his letting his cattle roam and graze on the grass on all of the otherwise unused land that the Feds are NOW putting up a fuss about. Do animals not roam and graze on land in nature anyway? This isn't a case of Bundy building physical structures on govt. land, or even so much as parking vehicles on it. The government's main defense here is a claim that he owes them a large amount of money for unpaid "grazing rights". Ok ... except if you look at the history of grazing rights? All they were was a way for ranchers to avoid having to deal with the hassles of maintaining grazing lands themselves -- repairing broken fences and so forth. A govt. agency offered to make things easier on them by performing those services centrally and collecting grazing fees to fund it, and they agreed. Bundy was actually doing the fence repairs and maintenance himself ... so his failure to pay these fees is little more than a technicality.

    So much information, but lets make your vision a little clearer., shall we? First it does not matter if animals graze on land in nature, you would not like it if I let my heard of cows on your land to graze. Secondly Bundy is building physical structures on the land, unless you dont call trenches that he is building to provide water physical structures, on the land. As for grazing fees, it does not matter if he decides to do the repairs to fenses himself, he owes those fees, he is using the publics land, he does not get to decide unilaterally if he wants to stop paying.

    Additionally, I think many folks supported him primarily as a way to "poke a proverbial stick in the eye of big government", as opposed to a direct interest in seeing justice done for Bundy and his family/relatives/friends. As a taxpayer myself, I have a big problem with government buying up large tracts of land and then just sitting on them, as they clearly did here. That's a huge waste of our money! Government's purpose is to serve the public -- so any land it purchases should be clearly towards that end. In this case, Bundy's ancestors had cattle grazing on the same land for over 100 years ... and it didn't bother anybody. Only *now* is it such a big deal, govt. felt the need to use helicopters, vans with SWAT teams and more, to basically invade the area and put on a show of force -- even attempting to seize the man's cattle.

    The government did not just buy up that huge track of land, atleast not anytime in our generation, or our parents generation, or even thiers. They have owned the land for just as long a Bundy's family has been using it. They just formed the BLM to manage it. Also the government owning land is one of the ways they offset taxes. As for why it did not bother anyone, it is because until 20 years ago they were paying the fees, until he stopped. Also they did not want to sieze the cattle, they wanted it off the public land...major differnece

    Lastly, there's the issue of govt. clearly lying about its intentions. A claim was initially made about the land being purchased for the purpose of preserving an endangered species of tortoise. Interestingly enough, there are records showing the boundaries of the protected land were re-drawn in the past, to accommodate other government projects - when they were found inconvenient. So the idea Bundy has to go for endangering these animals now is ludicrous.

    it is not Bundy's land, he has to go for what the owners say, or he can find other grazing land.

    Bottom line? If the guy owes the IRS back taxes and keeps refusing to pay, fine... Collect it from him the usual way. Seize his bank account or garnish some of

  • Re: Bundy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @03:33PM (#46772159)

    Most of the land was originally the feds in the first place and only leased to others. And before then the land belonged to the natives who lived in the area before the white man came and decided they wanted it instead. At no point in the long history of southern Nevada was there ever a divinely granted right to this farmer or his ancestors to own or occupy the land.

  • by AlphaBravoCharlie (3517679) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @04:22PM (#46772977)
    uh no. the point of the US Constitution is to define the US Federal government.
  • by laird (2705) <lairdp&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:44PM (#46775593) Journal

    You have pretty much all of your facts wrong.

    In Australia, gun deaths dropped, and overall violent crime also dropped. You're cherry-picking a brief increase right after guns were regulated, which was then followed by a sustained decline in both gun deaths and violent crime in Australia.

    It's absurd to pretend that "the only thing standing between a crazy gunman and an elementary school is a piece of paper" - laws are enforced. If nobody (other than the police) at a school can have a gun, then anyone with a gun is obviously breaking the law and can be stopped. If people with guns can roam the school, the only way to tell that one of them is a killer is that they've just shot someone.

    The shooting in the movie theatre illustrated how ineffective people with guns (there were several in the audience) actually are in stopping gunmen, which is to say that they didn't do so. The reality is that a gunman can position themselves, and have body armor, and then then shoot everyone in sight. And that generally speaking civilians without training for combat situations cause a lot more harm than help, because they tend to panic and shoot the wrong people, or fire and miss, etc. There's a reason that policemen and soldiers train constantly, and it's because it's the critical difference that makes them effective.

    Also, most gun deaths are suicides. More guns strongly correlates to more successful suicides. Limiting access to guns reduces suicides.

    Similarly, letting soldiers on bases carry loaded guns leads to more people getting shot, not fewer. That's why soldiers are only issued ammunition when they need it. I'm pretty sure that the Army isn't anti-gun, but they do like to keep our soldiers alive.

    I agree that you're not a lawyer, and deliberately misleading.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team