John Paul Stevens, retired Supreme Court justice, argues for repeal of Second Amendment

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (CNN)

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens believes the students and demonstrators who protested this past weekend for gun control should seek a repeal of the Second Amendment.

“A concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment,” Stevens wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times Tuesday, adding, “today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

A lifelong Republican but considered liberal in his judicial rulings, Stevens pointed to his dissent in the 2008 landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for self-defense within his home.

“That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the (National Rifle Association) with a propaganda weapon of immense power,” wrote Stevens, who served from 1975 until he retired in 2010.

He added, “Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA lobbying arm, said Tuesday that the NRA, a majority of the American people and the Supreme Court, “believe in the Second Amendment right to self-protection and we will unapologetically continue to fight to protect this fundamental freedom.”

“The 97-year-old retired justice has long held the opinion that American citizens do not have the individual right to own a firearm for self-protection,” Cox said in a statement. “Emboldened by the mainstream media, the gun-control lobby is no longer distancing themselves from the radical idea of repealing the Second Amendment and banning all firearms.”

Stevens had previously argued the Second Amendment should be amended, two years after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“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,” Stevens wrote Tuesday of the weekend’s “March for Our Lives” rallies.

“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,” he continued.