Stevens offers Second Amendment expansion

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

The April 17 edition of the Greenwich Post contained a letter headlined, “We need to expand the Second Amendment, not curtail it.” By expansion, the letter’s author is apparently calling for an unfettered use of guns.

But the word “expand” can be understood in many ways. For example, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens would expand the Second Amendment in a literal sense. As explained in his April 11, 2014, essay in the Washington Post, he would add five words to the Amendment (I’ve put them here in caps): “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.”

Stevens reminds us that the Second Amendment was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated.” But recent Supreme Court of the United States’ decisions have given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of use of arms — both civilian and militia-related uses of arms.

Stevens calls this an anomalous result which could be avoided by adding his five words.

Stevens thinks (as do I) that emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of proposed gun legislation. His proposed amendment would nullify these emotional arguments.

As he puts it, “The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument.”


Philip J. Feuer


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