John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

.. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

.. During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “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.”

.. In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.

That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power.

What does it take for Fox News stars to turn on Trump? We are finding out.

Imagine if Barack Obama had said that,” said Tucker Carlson on Thursday night on his eponymous Fox News program. The host was referring to Trump’s remark in a Wednesday meeting with lawmakers regarding gun policy. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” said Trump. Many were astonished, though they shouldn’t have been: Trump has no core convictions, just core whims.

.. “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” decreed the Supreme Court in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia, et al. v. Heller. “From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

.. Carlson is gradually adjusting a year-long MO of deflecting negative stories about the president. Time and again, the quick-witted host found creative and entertaining ways of hammering liberals for this-or-that offense while Trump and his charges were stacking up scandalous headlines.

.. The pattern also unfolded in January, when Trump declared that he’d pretty much accept whatever immigration policies Congress promulgated.

.. “And yet, today, in a remarkable twist, the president held a televised meeting with the very swamp creatures he once denounced. He told them he trusted them to craft immigration policy without his input.”

.. How much outrage, how much pettiness, how many policy betrayals will conservatives stomach before reaching some very obvious conclusions about our president? Broken rudders on immigration and gun rights appear to be Carlson’s bridge-too-far betrayals.

.. Sean Hannity didn’t have the courage or the principle to face his viewers a la Carlson. Following Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, he gaslighted his audience by skipping over Trump’s embrace of gun restrictions and hammering “Democrats” for embracing them.

.. this was a wild thing. It was not cool for a lot of people who believe in the Second Amendment.”

.. Trump’s trampling of truth and decency didn’t much offend the prime-timers at Fox News. But stray from conservative orthodoxy on immigration and guns? That’s trouble.