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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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:00AM (#46767763)

    It's as if he is choosing to ignore the recent killings at Ft. Hood in 2009 and 2014 because clearly no one 'serving in the militia' could ever do anything like that. It must be just those dangerous civilians out there and couldn't possibly be related to an individual's mental health or motivations.

  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:00AM (#46767767) Homepage

    It might be helpful to note that he's not proposing a ban on gun ownership, rather that the individual states should be allowed to regulate such ownership more than is currently allowed.

  • by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:03AM (#46767801)

    I'm not conservative by any stretch of the imagination... However...

    Everyone should be armed. Assuming you're not a felon, a weapon should be in every single citizen's possession. Period. No loopholes.

    Gun safety should be taught in public school, along with the inferred rights and responsibilities involved.

    The reason? So that normal citizens like you and me can defend ourselves on the way to the Canadian border. Because when these idiot libs and cons start really shooting at each other... the Klondike might be our only hope.

    • "Assuming you're not a felon, a weapon should be in every single citizen's possession."

      Even then, there's plenty of non-violent felons that I would be ok with owning guns.

    • 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 Ksevio ( 865461 )
        But Switzerland doesn't have all the citizens carrying concealed hand guns - they have very high gun regulations, which is a major difference than what gun activists want for the US.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by geekoid ( 135745 )

        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 u

    • Where in the second amendment does it say felons can't own guns? Why are certain modern weapons banned? If we accept that the second amendment allows people to own modern weaponry (and countless people, including myself, do), then why do we allow the government to violate it by keeping guns out of the hands of felons, or disallowing certain weapons?

  • It's crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:03AM (#46767805)
    The whole point is for the citizens to be able to form a militia in order to defend themselves from their own government. Those words would effectively decimate the whole reason for the second amendment.
    • Re:It's crap (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Darth Muffin ( 781947 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:13AM (#46767973) Homepage
      +1 to this! It makes us subjects, not citizens, since we would then have rights only when the government says so. That's not a right. This is the bill of rights, not the bill of benefits. "When serving in a militia" is pretty much all the time since all able-bodied men and women make up the militia.
    • The whole point is for the citizens to be able to form a militia in order to defend themselves from their own government.

      That might have been the case in 1791, when the strenght of an armed force was roughly proportional to the number of men with guns it had.

      Today, if you would pit every civilian gun-owner in the US, with all their weapons, against the forces of a single aircraft carrier (one thenth of the aircraft carriers that the US government controls), the civilians would lose. Hellfire missiles beat automatic rifles every time.

      If you want the second amendment to imply that the people can defeat the government by force,

  • I for one . . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:05AM (#46767825)

    I for one am just grateful that a liberal jurist has finally acknowledged that it would take a constitutional amendment to do that. Most of them seem to think that the Constitution already reads that way.

  • Bad suggestion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:10AM (#46767907)
    Since Stevens' change has the purpose of exactly contradicting the original intent, it seems shoddy and absurd to just change one little phrase in it. For example, the "of a free state" part becomes a joke, or at least a meaningless window dressing, once this amendment ceases to be about guaranteeing a specific freedom to the people. In other words, Stevens' modified amendment is capable of fitting in very nicely with the goals of a tyranny, and has nothing to do with increasing the power of the people to prevent a powerful government from taking away their freedoms. But maybe Mr. Stevens really anticipates his suggestion going mainstream, and supposes that by leaving the form of the original in place, 2nd Amendment supporters will be unable to effectively oppose the change?

    Regardless, I personally smell a rat.
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#46767983)

    Here are six amendments (not in any form of airtight legalese) that would be useful:

    1: Campaign donations are forbidden. Each candidate for an elected office will get an equivalent place to state their platform. Advertising anything election related on a commercial (paid) basis will be a crime.

    2: Similar to Article 9 of the Mexican Constitution: Only US citizens can influence the politics of the nation.

    3: A "no confidence" vote can be done on Congress, forcing a complete re-election with no incumbents allowed in for the next term (but can run after that.)

    4: Same as Article 23 of the Mexican Constitution. No double jeopardy, and after three trials, the defendant is now absolved of charges.

    5: Same as Article 10 of the German Constitution, guaranteeing privacy.

    6: The right to a firearm is guaranteed. However, part of school education is firearms training, from elementary school to high school. The purpose of this is to "un-Hollywoodize" firearms, and make them perceived as a tool (similar to a chainsaw or weed whacker), and no more. If packing becomes pedestrian or gauche, the gun control problem will go away by itself.

    These are not perfect, but they will go a ways to address critical issues.

    • This is mostly beautiful. I have reservations on #6. I'm ok with taking guns away from violent criminals. I don't think educating everyone is going to change the culture of idiots who walk around with a gun in their pants now waiting to shoot someone for "disrespecting" them or being in the wrong neighborhood. Giving them a gun course isn't going to un-Hollywoodize firearms.

  • 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 SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#46767999)

    The good part of this that I see is that he is advocating changing the constitution and not just ignoring it. The constitution can and should be amended to account for changing values, changing technology and different external influences. Once you start ignoring the constitution, then what rules do the government need to follow? Change the constitution to what it "should" say, then we all know what we're doing, what's expected of us, and where to go next.

  • 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 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 assertation ( 1255714 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:57AM (#46768869)

    The United States would be in a lot better shape if people protected privacy, protected the freedom to assemble/protest, and fought campaign funding abuse ( Citizens United, etc ) the way the NRA fights for guns. It would be a lot more secure in freedoms as well as its physical safety.

The absent ones are always at fault.