Retired justice urges repeal of Second Amendment to allow greater gun control

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Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has called for the repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for significant gun control legislation.

The 97-year-old said in an essay on The New York Times website that repeal would weaken the National Rifle Association’s ability to “block constructive gun control legislation”.

Mr Stevens was on the losing end of a 2008 ruling in which the high court held that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own a gun for self-defence.

He had previously called for changing the Second Amendment to permit gun control.

Mr Stevens says the decision in that case, District of Columbia v Heller, “has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power”.

Mr Stevens retired from the court in 2010, after more than 35 years.

In his essay published on Tuesday, Mr Stevens talks about the March for Our Lives events on Saturday which drew crowds in cities across the country.

He said the demonstrations “reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimise the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society”.

He said the 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 Mr Stevens called on demonstrators to “seek more effective and more lasting reform”.

“They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment,” he wrote.

Repealing the amendment would be extremely difficult. An amendment to the constitution can only be proposed either by Congress with a two thirds vote in both houses or by a constitutional convention called for by two thirds of the state legislatures.

The amendment then has to be approved by three quarters of the states.

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