The NRA cites this pronouncement by the Brady Center’s co-founder, Pete Shields: “The first problem is to slow down the number of handguns being … sold…. The second problem is to get handguns registered. The final problem is to make possession … totally illegal.” There’s the proof, says the NRA, that liberals just want to get rid of our guns and kill the Second Amendment. That narrative had traction among hardcore gun rights people, but Heller actually defused the argument by affirming that the Second Amendment is here to stay, and it secures a fundamental, individual right.
Then comes Justice Stevens — for many years, the intellectual leader of the liberal wing of the Court — and breathes new life into the NRA’s storyline. What better evidence that the left wants a gun-free America? A liberal icon calls for repeal of the Second Amendment – a proposal that will never be implemented, and would have limited effect if it were. The Second Amendment doesn’t prevent states from enacting reasonable regulations; and its repeal wouldn’t prevent states from allowing assault weapons or high capacity magazines. It’s state law, not the Second Amendment, that “calls the shots.”
But if so, then why the Second Amendment? To prevent government from constructively banning a large class of weapons in common use for self-defense. That was tried in DC (until Heller), and in Chicago (until McDonald), and perhaps in a few other localities. That’s what would happen again if the Second Amendment were repealed. And that’s why the NRA’s slippery slope argument still resonates with millions of gun owners.