Ex-Justice Stevens: Founders Did Not Want Individual Right to Arms

Image: Ex-Justice Stevens: Founders Did Not Want Individual Right to Arms

Sunday, 20 Apr 2014 01:59 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Guns will likely never be banned in the United States, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says, even if the government changes the U.S. Constitution to meet the suggestions he outlines in his new book, "Six Amendments."

"The likelihood of [widespread outlawing of firearms] is quite remote," Stevens told ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos in a wide-ranging, pre-recorded interview that aired on the show Sunday morning. The gun lobby "is able to take care of itself in the democratic debates which would continue with my amendment."

Stevens' book is under fire by conservatives who disagree with his book, which proposes six changes to the Constitution that would make it more in line with modern society while aligning more with the nation's Founding Fathers' intentions.

His most controversial plan is to change the Second Amendment, which now 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" by five words, so it would read "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

As there have not been state militias since the Civil War ended, Stevens' amendment would mean the government would not have restrictions in how it bans or regulates firearms.

However, Stevens believes gun supporters would keep gun ownership safe in the United States.

The new language, Stevens said, "would merely prevent arguments being made that Congress doesn’t have the power to do what they think is in the best public interest."

Stevens said he does not believe the Founding Fathers wanted to provide for individuals' rights to bear arms.

"There was a fear among the original framers that the federal government would be so strong that they might destroy the state militias,” he said.

Also during the interview, Stevens told Stephanopoulos that he believes it is entirely appropriate for justices to consider political ramifications when they are deciding when to retire.

"It’s an appropriate thing to think about your successor, not only in this job,” Stevens said. "If you’re interested in the job and in the kind of work that’s done, you have to have an interest in who’s going to fill your shoes.”

But he doesn't think Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court's oldest member, would need his advice when it comes to retiring.

"She did ask my advice when she became the senior associate justice." Stevens added. "And basically, I gave her that same answer. ‘Ruth, you’re fully capable of handling everything that comes along.'"

Justice Antonin Scalia is technically the senior associate, having been on the court longer, but Ginsburg is the oldest of the two.

ABC US News | ABC Business News

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