UPDATE: WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that the Second Amendment "WILL NEVER BE REPEALED" and called on voters to elect more Republicans in this fall's congressional elections because the GOP "must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court."

Trump's statements came a day after retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in an essay in The New York Times that repealing the amendment would make it easier for Congress to enact gun control legislation.

Last month's shootings that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, have galvanized young people, liberals and Democrats for a renewed push to curb firearms. That has included demonstrations that have drawn hundreds of thousands of marchers in cities across the country.

"THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!" Trump tweeted early Wednesday. "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!"

There is no current, major push to repeal the Second Amendment. Any effort to do so would be unlikely to succeed in today's divisive political climate. Under the most common way to amend the Constitution, the House and Senate would both need to approve the proposal by two-thirds majorities. It would then need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

Political parties do not technically "hold" the Supreme Court like they control Congress.

Justices are nominated by presidents and must be confirmed by the Senate. It is true justices often reflect the political views of presidents who select them, but that is not always the case.

Of the current nine justices, the four considered to comprise the court's conservative wing were appointed by GOP presidents and the four more liberal judges were selected by Democratic presidents. The ninth, often considered the crucial swing vote, is Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Trump would have an easier time filling the next Supreme Court vacancy if Republicans can expand their current 51-49 Senate majority in November's elections.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment lets people own guns for self-defense.


PREVIOUS STORY: WASHINGTON (AP) - Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for significant gun control legislation.

The 97-year-old Stevens says in an essay on The New York Times website that repeal would weaken the National Rifle Association's ability to "block constructive gun control legislation."

Stevens was on the losing end of a 2008 ruling in which the high court held that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own a gun for self-defense. He had previously called for changing the Second Amendment to permit gun control.

Stevens says the decision in that case, District of Columbia v. Heller, "has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power." Stevens retired from the court in 2010, after more than 35 years.

In his essay published Tuesday, Stevens talks about the "March for Our Lives" events on Saturday which drew crowds in cities across the country. Stevens said the demonstrations "reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society."

He said the support "is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms."

But Stevens called on demonstrators to "seek more effective and more lasting reform."

"They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment," he wrote.

Repealing the amendment would be extremely difficult. An amendment to the Constitution can only be proposed either by Congress with a two thirds vote in both houses or by a constitutional convention called for by two thirds of the state legislatures. The amendment then has to be approved by three quarters of the states.

Asked at a White House briefing whether President Donald Trump had any reaction to Stevens' comments, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president and administration "still fully support the Second Amendment."

"We think that the focus has to remain on removing weapons from dangerous individuals, not on blocking all Americans from their constitutional rights," she said.

The National Rifle Association also issued a statement in response to Stevens' essay.

"The men and women of the National Rifle Association, along with the 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 statement said.

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