WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that the Second Amendment — the right to keep and bear arms — “will never be repealed,” responding to an opinion piece written by a retired Supreme Court justice who called for just that.
THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday,” Mr. Stevens wrote. “These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.”
Repealing the Second Amendment would have to be approved by Congress, and there have been no formal proposals for such a move.
Mr. Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010. He wrote a major dissent about the Second Amendment in one of the court’s hardest-fought decisions. Mr. Stevens argued that the amendment does not protect an individual’s right to own firearms.
“That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power,” Mr. Stevens wrote on Tuesday, referring to the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobbying group. “Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated the administration was not considering a repeal of the Second Amendment.
“The president and the administration still fully support the Second Amendment,” Ms. Sanders said on Tuesday in response to a question about Mr. Stevens’s Op-Ed. “We think that the focus has to remain on removing weapons from dangerous individuals, not on blocking all Americans from their constitutional rights.”
In his tweet, Mr. Trump also said that Democrats support repealing the Second Amendment, but that has not been the case in Congress, which is only considering modest policy changes on guns. In the 1990s, a Democratic congressman from New York introduced legislation for a repeal, but it did not get any traction. Mr. Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, did not campaign to repeal the Second Amendment.
“We can uphold Second Amendment rights while preventing senseless gun violence,” Mrs. Clinton tweeted in May 2016.
Mr. Trump had the support of the N.R.A. early in his campaign for president and has said he is “the biggest fan of the Second Amendment.” After the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month, Mr. Trump proposed stricter controls on access to guns, particularly raising the age to purchase an assault weapon to 21 from 18. After a meeting with the N.R.A., Mr. Trump no longer advocated for an age increase.
Instead, the White House — with the support of the N.R.A. — says appropriately trained teachers should be armed to respond to future mass shootings.
“Gun free zones are proven targets of killers,” Mr. Trump tweeted on March 1.
Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
Arming teachers has been widely criticized, recently by people who gathered for marches for more gun control.