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April 12, 2014 1:54 PM Grading John Paul Stevens’ Work

By Martin Longman

As the gun nuts will surely point out, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens doesn’t know how to distinguish automatic from semi-automatic firearms. I’ve never understood why this distinction is so important to gun nuts. As a legal matter, obviously it is important to know the difference. But the reason that non-gun enthusiasts make this mistake so often is because the semi-automatic weapons are so incredibly lethal that the distinction doesn’t make any practical difference to them. Does anyone think Adam Lanza’s semi-automatic weapon was inadequate to the job of killing 20 kids and 6 teachers in a couple of minutes?

It’s really the ease and quickness that killers like Lanza and James Eagan Jones Holmes (the Aurora, Colorado shooter) can mow down large groups of people that is the concern.

In any case, Stevens’ proposed amendment to the Second Amendment is sloppy. It would make it impossible for a National Guard officer to disarm an insubordinate underling.

As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated,” has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read:

“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.”

As we know, the wording of these things can get twisted over time. So, if you want to rewrite the Second Amendment you should be as specific as possible. I’d go with:

A well regulated Militia is no longer necessary to the security of a free State. We now call those things the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air Force Reserve, the Coast Guard Reserve, the Army National Guard of the United States, and the Air National Guard of the United States. If you serve in one of those Organizations, your weapon will be provided for you.

See, isn’t that better?

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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