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No Reason for Congress Not to Act to Prevent Gun Violence, Says Justice Stevens at Brady Center Luncheon
WASHINGTON - October 16 - At a luncheon hosted by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (ret.) reaffirmed to area lawyers that recent Second Amendment cases, D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, are not a barrier to Congress passing stronger gun laws that would prevent tragedies, such as recent mass shootings.
“The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies [Virginia Tech, Aurora and Tucson] in the future cannot be blamed on the Court’s decision in Heller, “ said Stevens yesterday in prepared remarks before a gathering of about 150 D.C. - based lawyers and law firms at the Capital Hilton.
Justice Stevens authored dissents in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 and 2010 Second Amendment decisions, but credited Justice Antonin Scalia for making clear that Heller kept the door open to regulations regarding who can carry guns and where, and what kinds of guns are lawful. “Prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons, on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, and laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings, or imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms, are specifically identified as permissible regulations,” Justice Stevens said.
Brady Center President Dan Gross commented after the Justice’s speech. “Justice Stevens is another extraordinarily important and powerful voice calling on our elected officials to take action – one of many we have heard from, from across the country and across the political spectrum, since the wave of mass shootings this summer. His remarks today are part of a real national conversation that has begun among the American people who know that we are better than a nation with 32 more gun murders every day, and are calling for real plans from their elected officials to do something about it.”
During the follow-up Question-and-Answer session Stevens added, “The fact that Congress doesn’t address it [gun violence], I find mind-boggling, to tell you the truth.”
Justice Stevens was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit by President Nixon in 1970, and to the Supreme Court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. He earned a Bronze Star for service in World War II, and after retiring in 2010 as the third-longest-serving U.S. Supreme Court Justice in American history he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.