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United States Politics

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:59AM (#46767751)

    All a state would have to do is amend their constitution to proclaim that all their able bodied citizens are members of the state militia for defense of their lives, property, and the state if mustered into action. What can the feds do then?

  • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:08AM (#46767883)
    Bombs are probably the most efficient way to kill lots of people, and they can be improvised from various things that we need to have to function as a society.
  • My revision: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IMarvinTPA ( 104941 ) <IMarvinTPA@IMarvinT P A . c om> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:10AM (#46767921) Homepage Journal

    My suggested new text:
    "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Laws limiting weapons in any way are prohibited, including but not limited to background checks, registration lists, and places where they can carried. All governments, foreign and domestic, should be afraid of the armed populous."

    If a gun can be anywhere, everywhere can be defended quickly.

    (Did you know that a convicted felon is not required to register his guns since that would violate his 5th ammendment right to not self-incriminate? Look it up!)


  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:13AM (#46767967)

    In short, the 2nd amendment favors the rich because they can arm themselves to the hilt, should they wish. Not very equal, is it?

    Did you just make a "life isn't fair" argument?

    How less available for purchase is law enforcement, as opposed to guns? Or do you deny that the rich get different treatment than the poor under the law?

    Seriously, you just made a 'money exists' argument as though that was removed by retooling the 2nd amendment.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#46767985)

    the intention was a check of power: that the people would rise up and fight a corrupt government and take it back.

    what this assclown wants is even MORE power to the government.

    I say we reverse this. arm every citizen and actually make it ILLEGAL for the government to ever rise up against its own people. like that pussy at davis, the 'seargent pepper-spray' asshole, he should have been locked up for the rest of his life for abusing his authority against actual peaceful citizens who were simply exercising their RIGHT to protest the government.

    we have a system where the police (in various forms) exist only to keep the powerful in power. anything left over after that is just a token to throw to the masses to keep them in check.

    I'd like to see revolts against any government org that uses lethal force against its own people.

    of course, it won't ever happen. we have lost our ability to keep our government afraid of us, the people. we lost. I wonder if we forever lost that?

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#46767989) Homepage Journal

    This is why I want a new constitution dictating that all bills must have a mission defined in English, Latin, and Ancient Greek. The law must be consistent with the Mission; anything outside the Mission--anything not consistent in all three versions--is invalid. The Mission specifies goal (why the law exists) and scope (what the law will do to achieve the goal), while the text of the law specifies method (how the law will achieve the goal). If you start throwing in irrelevant earmarks, altering other criminal laws, or adding taxes where the Mission doesn't cover those activities, those parts of the law are legally invalid. If you arrest someone for violating the law and it can be shown in court that their actions are disconnected from the Mission, then the law was not made to police them in this scenario and they have committed no crime.

    We can't even decide what the second amendment actually says. We need stronger definitions with multi-way consistency checking. Use two dead languages for parity.

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:37AM (#46768431)

    He's not comparing 'kill people'. You are.

    He is comparing technological advancement, which is very much apples and apples.

    It is no 'straw man' to argue that the freedom of the press never envisioned the internet, and therefore should be reevaluated along these same lines.

    You're better than 'buzz word bingo'. Perhaps your response was a bit rash.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:45AM (#46768617)
    Which is a scary thought since the lesson of the Nevada event is that if you have good PR and enough armed people, officials who do not want bloodshed will back down and allow you to continue. Since this is only a tool that can be utilized by the wealthy and well connected, even if it was just, it does not actually help average citizens but does mean that it is less likely the state will actually protect them from other citizens.

    I guess Waco and such did accomplish their goals. They wanted blood to make a point, other groups used it for anti-government propeganda, and now officals are wary about standing up to these groups. I suspect we will see a rise in sovereign citizens and others who hope that if they are more willing to kill then officals then they will not have to follow laws they do not like.
  • by cide1 ( 126814 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @12:43PM (#46769721) Homepage

    If they were "just enforcing the law", then why did the FBI/ATF enter with masks on and no visible identification? That's what terrorists do, not government or police agencies. There is evidence that the federal agents fired the first shots as well.

  • by Above ( 100351 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @12:58PM (#46770047)

    Your argument is popular, but incomplete. Let's look a the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The second amendment could easily have been constructed in a similar fashion, I'll write my own "what if":

    Congress shall make no law prohibiting the ownership of arms.

    Nice, simple, and would support your interpretation. However that's not in the historical record. In fact, the Second Amendment was not only written differently but was passed with different text [] by congress than the states used to ratify! Here are the two versions:

    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.

    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.

    So where the first amendment is an absolute prohibition "no laws", the second amendment uses an arguably gentler "shall not be infringed". To put that in a frame of mind, consider something like having to get a license. Under the first amendment a license to be part of the press would clearly be no good under the "no laws" clause. Under the second amendment, is having to get a license infringement or not? To a lot of the public it is not.

    It is also interesting that they saw it necessary to include the concept of a militia. I won't attempt to guess what they really intended there (although plenty of others have), I will just point out the language is a marked departure from the absolute, unabridged nature of the first amendment.

    In short, assertion would require that there be striking similarity between the two causes, such that a limit on "arms" would have the same parameters as a limit on "freedom of the press". But the two clauses are not only dissimilar, but completely different. I think based on text alone it is entirely reasonable to make the general statement that "the founders viewed the ownership of arms differently than freedom of the press", otherwise the much simpler text of the first amendment, or indeed adding "arms" to the first amendment, would have been far, far simpler.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:36PM (#46770533) Journal

    I have absolutely no problem with a sane, sober individual possessing a weapon. I myself am a Canadian, but I remember camping trips with my grandparents out in the backcountry of British Columbia, and he always kept his hunting rifle loaded (that would get him arrested in Canada these days), not because he even really hunted by that point, but because of the risk from bears and other predators with young kids around. I learned to shoot when I was pretty young, and while I have no more adoration for guns than I do for hammers or screwdrivers, I respect their power and believe firmly that whether anyone owns a gun or not, they should know how one works, both for gun safety and in the hopefully unlikely event they actually need to use one.

    The fact of the matter is that if someone is out to kill lots of people, guns, while perhaps the most convenient method, are hardly the only one. Some college kid just stabbed five people to death at a house party, apparently with a knife that was in the house where the party was being held. If someone goes nuts and decides it's time to kill lots of people, there's damned little anyone can do about it. Maybe, if we're lucky, we find out about their dastardly plan in advance, but bad luck can take anyone out; whether it be a maniac with a weapon, a car accident, or hell, falling off a ladder.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:48PM (#46770681) Homepage

    "Unaccountable quasi-military organizations that tend to be high on ideology and low on reason."

    This describes the Law enforcement of every state and city in the United states. NYPD is better described as organized crime.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:09PM (#46770959) Homepage Journal

    Uh, if I encounter a gang rape, I'm going in. I don't care if I'm outnumbered; there will be pain and fists and blood and at least *some* of them are going to be broken before me.

    I cannot fire bullets into that, it's too easy to hit the innocent I'm trying to protect. I can take a sword into that. I can take a cudgel into that, too. If they pull out guns, well.. one gun against six is about as good as one sword against six guns. I sort of accept that risk going in.

    I live in a place where this is common, but not mexican-border common. The threats are similar, but they are different: a cartel party is a well-armed, fairly well-trained, battle-hardened and murder-ready group, whereas your garden variety rapist or mugger is not. Garden variety mugger is going to think twice about being involved in a lethal situation where he may get executed (partially not applicable here: many of our high-crime folks are drug dealers and other such who are at risk of death by criminal activity more than by state execution, so state execution is the most minor risk and thus not a deterrent; but they are also not the ones likely to mug random people), mexican cartel drug mob folks have murdered and will murder again. Garden variety mugger you beat back with force; mexican drug cartel you go in with the full assumption that these people *will* murder you if they're not dead.

    Where I am, I don't need extraneous weapons. Fists work just fine, and any level of pressure really carries weight. I've been threatened by gangs, had multiple people crowding around me shouting and demanding money, and just brushed them off and walked; they are not prepared to follow through, and any amount of force is going to quickly drive these people away. When we get into hardened criminals, serial rapists, and organized crime, that ceases to work; I can inflict crippling injury faster with a cudgel, and I can inflict death faster with a blade or superior, and when they come in groups i will need to do one or the other with rapidity.

    So you can have your border state. I still think firearms are not a wholly appropriate self-defense weapon except in extreme cases (i.e. organized mob crime), and I think they carry a significant liability. I can see the comparative advantage when facing an intervention scenario with multiple adversaries, versus an ambush scenario where a firearm may quickly become a liability rather than an asset; depending on how you're going to handle an intervention scenario, either may be a valid choice to avoid bystander liability, but a cudgel quickly becomes less useful as you increase the need for quick lethality. Sword offers quick lethality in closed quarters, firearm offers quick lethality with range, cudgel is slow for cripple or kill.

    I simply can't control a firearm like a blade. At the moment I carry none because nothing I can carry provides an advantage: I can handle any situation likely to arise here WITH MY FISTS. If I was out in gangland and dealing with organized murder gangs, I would go for no less than a sword; at that point I have to accept lethality in self defense, and I probably can't reasonably deal with those people with my fists--or even if I can, I'm going to have to kill them with my fists anyway, so screw it, you get to meet three feet of steel.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel