In a recent interview with The New York Times regarding his upcoming memoir, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens shares what he contends are the three worst court decisions to come down during his long tenure. His first choice, unsurprisingly, is District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 ruling that finally codified the Second Amendment as an individual right. . .
Stevens doesn’t even attempt to hide the political motivation behind his argument. Earlier this year, in fact, Stevens implored Americans to do what he couldn’t while on the court, and repeal the Second Amendment. Stevens quotes former Chief Justice Burger, who in 1991 claimed that activists had perpetrated “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Both these justices rely on an expedient revisionist history to make their claims. This effort was spearheaded by left-wing historians who attempted to retroactively dismiss the ubiquitous presence of guns in American life and the role firearms played in the rise of a nation. It was taken up by anti-firearm activists and journalists who have used that revisionist history to dismiss the overwhelming evidence that the founding generation believed individual Americans had an inherent right to bear those arms. . .
The singular purpose of the Second Amendment, they argued, was to arm militias, not individuals. For some reason, they contend, the Second Amendment, unlike most of the Bill of Rights, actually empowered the government rather than the individual. Any other interpretation was an antiquated and destructive reading of the past.
But history has never backed up this contention — not then, and not now. The notion of individual ownership of firearms was so unmistakable and so omnipresent in colonial days—and beyond—that Americans saw no more need to debate its existence than they did the right to drink water or breathe the air. Not a single Minuteman was asked to hand his musket over to the Continental Congress after chasing the British back to Boston. If they had been, the Revolution would have been short-lived, indeed. (Read more from “The Second Amendment Has Always Been an Individual Right” HERE)