Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that the Second Amendment “will never be repealed,” in response to calls — in particular, from retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens — that one of articles of the Bill of Rights be written out of the Constitution.
As ABC News reports, the 45th president appears to have been spurred on by a Tuesday editorial that appeared in The New York Times. Entitled, plainly enough, “Repeal The Second Amendment,” former Justice Stevens writes that it’s time for the amendment — added to the Constitution, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, in 1791 — to be eliminated. In it, Stevens lays out his case for repealing the provision from law, pointing out the changes in history that have taken place since its writing and to the current political climate of today. In the end, he says, repealing the amendment is the only way to protect schoolchildren from mass shootings.
“…to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”
That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.”
Fox News’ Jesse Watters had a militant response to the notion.
— FoxNewsInsider (@FoxNewsInsider) March 27, 2018
In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump made it clear that he’ll be having none of it.
THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
The intent and scope of the Second Amendment, the text of which reads “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,” has been the subject of court cases, as well as debate. According to The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, the debate hinges on whether or not the amendment was intended merely to provide for a defensive force, or was intended to grant to individuals the right to bear arms. A 1939 Supreme Court case – United States v. Miller – held that the amendment does, indeed, grant individuals the right to keep and bear arms.
Repealing an amendment to the Constitution is done neither quickly nor easily. Article V of the Constitution requires that two thirds of both houses (that is, the Senate and the House of Representatives), or two thirds of the states (34 of the 50, now), must call for any changes to the Constitution. Any such change must then be ratified in the state legislatures of three fourths of the states (38 of them).
Whether or not the political will for such a move exists, either in Washington or in the 50 state capitals, remains to be seen. As of this writing, any calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment have been limited to various individuals (such as Stevens) speaking or writing on their own, and not speaking on behalf of any legislative bodies.
Only one amendment to the Constitution has ever been repealed: in 1933, the 21st Amendment was added to the Constitution, effectively repealing the 18th Amendment, which instituted Prohibition.