Is It Time to Repeal the Second Amendment?

Americans have come to think that it is a difficult task to amend the U.S. Constitution. The process was designed to be hard, but not impossible.

second amendment
Thomas Jefferson anticipated and advocated constitutional amendments as the main way to address changes in American life and keep up with advances in technology. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While the marches and rallies across the nation demanding stronger gun control laws have increased in the wake of the tragic Parkland shooting, they will not amount to much without petitioning for a constitutional amendment.

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The protests will achieve legislative reaction in some states like New Jersey. Unfortunately, state laws can provide only mere tweaks to the bigger problem of gun ownership in heavily populated areas. The sole way to solve the problem is to repeal the Second Amendment.

Without federal constitutional protection, states would be free to decide for themselves what restrictions, if any, to place on gun ownership. Less populated states would be free to have liberal gun ownership, including the right to carry. More populated states would be free to create more rigid restrictions on gun ownership and even ban guns completely.

Abolishing the Second Amendment

Most recently, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens lent his support to the repeal of the Second Amendment.

“[D]emonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment,” Justice Stevens wrote in The New York Times. “Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment… Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

Americans have come to think that it is a difficult task to amend the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps that is because the Constitution has only been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights. This includes three times after the Civil War and five times during the Progressive Era. The most recent amendment was passed in 1992, when the Constitution was changed to limit the ability of Congress to raise its own salary.

The process was designed to be difficult, but not impossible.

Pursuant to Article V, two-thirds of the members of Congress must vote to propose an amendment. Alternatively, two-thirds of a state may call for a constitutional convention. In either case, three-fourths of the states must approve the change.

Thomas Jefferson anticipated and advocated constitutional amendments as the main way to address changes in American life and keep up with advances in technology.

As described by James Madison, the Framers intended the provision to “guard equally against that extreme facility which would render the Constitution too mutable and that extreme difficulty which might perpetuate its discovered faults.”

New Jersey State Level Gun Control Bills

Increasing gun restrictions is far more likely on the local level, particularly in states with Democratic leadership. In New Jersey, lawmakers are considering a package of six gun control bills. They include:

  • Assembly Bill 1181: The bill would require law enforcement, upon order of the court, to seize a firearm that is in the possession of a person determined by certain licensed health care professionals to be likely to engage in conduct that poses a threat of serious harm to the patient or another person. The bill applies to professionals licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage and family therapy who have incurred a duty to warn or protect a potential victim under current law. (Passed Assembly)
  • Assembly Bill 1217: The “Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018” establishes a process and procedures for obtaining a protective order against persons who pose a significant danger of bodily injury to themselves or others by possessing or purchasing a firearm. The order would prohibit the subject of the order from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, and permit to carry a handgun. (Passed Assembly)
  • Assembly Bill 2757: The bill requires all sales or other transfers of a handgun, rifle or shotgun to be conducted through a retail dealer licensed under state law or a Federal Firearms Licensee. Exceptions under the amended bill include transactions between members of an immediate family, between law enforcement officers, between licensed collectors of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics, and temporary transfers to participate in certain training courses. (Passed Assembly)
  • Assembly Bill 2758: The bill would reverse an amendment under former Gov. Chris Christie that made it easier for individuals to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon and codify in law that they must demonstrate a “justifiable need” for such a weapon. (Passed Assembly)
  • Assembly Bill 2759:The bill amends state law to ban a new type of armor-piercing ammunition that can penetrate 48 layers of Kevlar. It also clarifies that possession or manufacture of this ammunition is a crime of the fourth degree. (Passed Assembly)
  • Assembly 2761: The bill bans firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition by changing the definition of “large capacity magazines.” (Passed Assembly)

Gov. Phil Murphy has vowed to sign the proposed bills if they reach his desk.

Donald Scarinci is a managing partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck—read his full bio here.

Is It Time to Repeal the Second Amendment?