Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens on Tuesday called for the repeal of the Second Amendment, the constitutional right used to defend gun ownership.
In a New York Times op-ed, Stevens — a Gerald Ford appointee who emerged as a liberal voice on the court and who retired from the court in 2010 — said the March for Our Lives demonstrations and civic engagement in the wake of last month's Parkland, Fla., school shooting "demand our respect."
(Editor's note: KING 5 conducted a non-scientific poll during our 5 p.m.- 6 p.m. newscast on Tuesday, asking if the Second Amendment should be repealed. The results were 75% against, 25% in favor.)
And while protesters were calling for legislation that would ban semi-automatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy guns and establishing more comprehensive background checks, he said they should seek a "more effective and more lasting reform."
"Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of 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,'" Stevens wrote. "Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century."
Stevens pointed to District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 landmark case that protected an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected to a militia, as a turning point. The ruling — of which Stevens was a dissenter — overturned "long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment's limited reach," he said, and gave the National Rifle Association "a propaganda weapon of immense power."
"Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA's ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option," he wrote.
Stevens has received pushback over the op-ed.
In a Twitter thread, Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor, argued that repeal wouldn't have the effect the former justice imagines it would. He noted that it would "do little to change America's gun laws," especially in states that are anti-gun control.
"The Second Amendment is not a barrier to enacting good gun laws," he wrote. "The NRA is. It's the politics of guns that control our gun laws, not the law of the Second Amendment."