If you have followed national issues at all, you may have learned somewhere along the way that even the hallowed U.S. Supreme Court justices are not immune to all of the foibles, personal biases and character flaws that are the hallmark of the human condition.
It is for this reason that our way of life can be altered irrevocably in monumental ways by the choices that presidents make in appointing Supreme Court justices. Not in my memory has this point ever been so stunningly underscored than by the recent jaw-dropping pronouncement by retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Stevens, responding to pro-gun control marches by school students across the nation, is proposing repealing the Second Amendment. The 97-year old jurist asserts that the Second Amendment, which conveys to all law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms, is an 18th century relic that is no longer relevant to the America of today.
Stevens is certainly cutting to the chase. Few gun control advocates would venture into such drastic political waters. Repealing the Second Amendment would most assuredly open the flood gates allowing gun control to be vaulted to the political fast track. Given the right congressional makeup, this could clear the way for the wholesale banning of gun ownership by all Americans, and eventual gun confiscation by the U.S. government.
Stevens, who retired from the court in 2010, had two years earlier dissented in District of Columbia v. Heller, which upheld that the Second Amendment, indeed, allowed an individual right to bear arms. Stevens says he remains convinced that decision was wrong and debatable and provided the National Rifle Association with “a propaganda weapon of immense power.”
What would that be like, the repeal of the Second Amendment? Would it markedly transform our way of life? Would acts of unspeakable violence cease? Would civility and compassion return in our deeply divided country and troubled culture? Would discipline of children return to homes? Would there cease to be drug use and mentally troubled individuals?
Would there be a return to moral values in a country that is so adrift? Would sex and violence stop being promoted in television, movies and video games? Would our citizenry be held accountable for its own behavior? Would there truly be consequences for lawlessness and would the rule of law mean something?
Government officials and law enforcement authorities dropped the ball at every level — local, state and federal — not to mention the armed deputy who choked when the chips were down. Government failed the people abysmally.
By definition, gun control is governmental authority in spades. The loss of the Second Amendment could be followed by intrusive governmental regulation of firearms to an extent that we can only imagine.
Justice Stevens contends that the Second Amendment is an 18th century relic. Really? James Madison, when he wrote the Bill of Rights, rightfully knew first hand that all governments were capable of tyranny, then and now. The potential peril of a behemoth federal government turning despotic is no less today than it was when the Founders sought to safeguard us with the Bill of Rights.
In today’s volatile, uncertain and, at times, chaotic world are you willing to entrust your personal safety, your family’s security and your constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in the hands of the same governments that failed to protect the school children of Parkland?
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal.” He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors.”
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