Left-Wing Markey Challenger:  Repeal the Second Amendment

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/08/07/left-wing-markey-challenger-repeal-the-second-amendment/

A left-wing challenger to U.S. Senator Ed Markey in the Democratic primary is calling for repealing the Second Amendment to the federal constitution guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms.

But an advocate for gun rights says she’s missing the point.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor lawyer who lives in Brookline, issued a statement Tuesday, in the wake of mass-shootings this past weekend in Texas and Ohio.

While many Democrats in Massachusetts and elsewhere have been quick to call for more gun-control legislation, most party officials have declined to call for removing the right to own a gun.

But Liss-Riordan said the time has come.

“Politics as usual in Washington has been devastating for the victims of gun violence and their families. I am tired of half steps, old ideas and fake urgency around the problem we face:  the presence of guns in our communities. Enough is enough. It is time we take real action and repeal the Second Amendment,” Liss-Riordan said in a written statement Tuesday, August 6. “I agree with the late Justice John Paul Stevens:  the Second Amendment is ‘a relic of the 18th century.’ We need leaders in Washington who understand that, and have the courage and the will to fight to repeal the Second Amendment.”

Liss-Riordan is running to Markey’s left in the September 2020 Democratic primary. Markey during the past several days has called for Congress to pass immediate gun-control legislation, but has not called for repealing the Second Amendment. A spokesman for Markey did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday from State House News Service, according to the wire service. New Boston Post could not immediately reach a Markey campaign spokesman Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, a second Democratic challenger to Markey also sounds open to repealing the Second Amendment, although he said it would take too long.

Steve Pemberton, a New Bedford resident and business executive, said he wants immediate action to limit access to guns.

“The second amendment has been coopted and twisted by the NRA and gun manufacturers, and we should absolutely have a serious discussion about abolishing it. But calling for that now in the wake of multiple deadly shooting misses the urgency of the moment. Abolishing the second amendment will take years at best to accomplish. We can’t wait for that,” Pemberton said in a written statement, according to State House News Service.

The Second Amendment has been part of the U.S. Constitution since 1791.

It states:

“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.”

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment sets forth an individual right to own a gun (in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)) and that the individual right extends beyond types of weapons that were available when the amendment was ratified (in Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016)).

The process to repeal an amendment to the federal constitution is the same as the one to amend the constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides that Congress may propose amendments by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House of Representatives, which must then be ratified by three-quarters of the state legislatures or constitutional conventions created by the states. (Another way, never used, is by a second national constitutional convention, which must be applied for by two-thirds of the states and called by Congress, followed by ratification of any amendments approved by the constitutional convention by three-quarters of the states.)

Two-thirds of the current 50 states is 34. Three-quarters of the current 50 states is 38.

Amending the U.S. Constitution is usually a difficult and time-consuming process, amounting to a longshot. About 11,770 amendments have been proposed in Congress since the federal constitution was ratified in 1789, according to the U.S. Senate’s web site, while only 27 have been approved.

The only amendment ever repealed is the prohibition of “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Prohibition began with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 and ended after the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933.

None of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which is known as the Bill of Rights, has ever encountered a serious challenge.

Massachusetts Democratic political consultant David Guarino (a former Boston Herald reporter) on Tuesday poured cold water on the idea of repealing the Second Amendment, saying it’s impractical:


Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, which advocates for the right to bear arms in Massachusetts, said Liss-Riordan’s anti-Second Amendment stance more candidly reflects what many anti-gun politicians want.

“It’s interesting that they’re not even trying to hide it anymore. For years and years it was, ‘Oh no, we believe in the Second Amendment, but …’ Once you heard the ‘but’ you knew what was coming. They just want to destroy the constitution altogether and rewrite what we do in this country. I used to hear that from my daughter’s teachers, too – ‘Well, the constitution is a living document.’ Well, the only reason you make the constitution a living document is so you can kill it,” Wallace said in an interview with New Boston Post.

The real problem, Wallace said, is how American society deals with people with severe mental health problems. Some people’s mental health is so poor that they should be institutionalized and therefore have no access to guns or any other type of weapon, he said, but since the 1970s the trend has been to keep such people out of institutions.

He said Massachusetts’s voluminous restrictions on firearms are not a success.

“Getting other states to follow our lead would be an absolute disaster – because they focus on the thing and not the person. … People like Markey are just looking at the thing and not the person – O.K., you took the gun away, now what?” Wallace said.

All civil rights should be respected, he said, but some people must be committed to an institution. He pointed out that several mass-shooters in recent years had previously been identified as seriously mentally ill, including cases in Florida in September 2018, Connecticut in December 2012, and in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012. 

“For instance, the guy in Parkland – why was he walking amongst us, period? The guy in Newtown – he absolutely should have been in an institution,” Wallace said. “The guy in Colorado, he was diagnosed basically psychotic, but he was still going to college. There’s no way he should have been walking amongst us.”