Number 2 with a bullet (part 1 of 2)

In my recent piece about the Constitution, a commenter named “Toad” wrote about gun control, and how certain Constitutional rights are curtailed as a matter of course (quoted in its entirety):

Although you come from a different side, you bring up a point that I often make; speech, alcohol, religion, guns, free press are all protected under the Constitution.

What gun nuts don’t understand is that these all come with restrictions.

Alcohol:
An 14 year old cant buy alcohol
I can’t buy beer in Indiana on Sunday
Most counties in the rural south are dry
I can’t drink and drive

Religion:
Mormons cannot have more than one wife even though it’s their religion
Rastafarians cannot smoke weed even though it’s part of their religion
Stan worshipers cannot make sacrifices even though its part of their
religion

Press:
I can’t print slanderous materials
I can name a couple of reporters who are in jail for not revealing
their sources
I cannot use images of people who do not want to be photographed

Speech / Expression:
I cannot yell fire in a crowded theater
2 live crew were arrested on obscenity charges for performing in front of adult only crowds
I can’t threaten someone’s life
I cannot intentionally and maliciously make up and print lies about
someone in order to damage them

Guns:
Waiting period for handguns
Some weapons restrictions in certain areas

Clearly there are very few gun regulations, most kids have a harder
time buying an allergy medicine than they would a gun, the Federal Law says medicine, even aspirin has to come with a child safety lock, yet a gun needs no such things.

If there are limits to the 1st and 21st amendments then there are
limits to the 2nd. I don’t want to live in a society where all speech, all print, all media, are censored, or where there is no alcohol or where I cannot protect/arm myself. But with that comes some restriction and I also don’t want to live in a society where anyone can do and say, shoot, kill, drink what ever they want, whenever they want, no matter who or how old they are.

It’s not all black and white, get with the times.

Now, often I am a “reactive” thinker. I get my best insights and thoughts when I am challenged by someone else. And Toad’s argument got me thinking about the examples he cited.

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First of all, let’s get dismiss the alcohol example. The right to drink is NOT a Constitutional right. Booze is mentioned exactly twice in the Constitution: first it’s banned in the 18th Amendment, then it’s un-banned by the 21st. So that’s right out.

But I noticed something odd about the other example Toad cited: yes, the are all restrictions on Constitutional rights, but in all the other cases besides guns, they’re reactive measures, they’re not pro-active. They outline penalties for misusing your rights, not conditions for exercising them at all. They all say “you can not exercise your right, but not in X way,” not “you must do X, Y, and Z before you can have that right.”

You can speak, you can peacably assemble, you can practice your faith, you can publish what you like — UNTIL the exercise of those rights endangers others, violates their rights, or breaks some law of the state. You wanna speak? Don’t lie or cause a needless panic. You wanna print something? Don’t knowingly publish lies about other people. You wanna start your own faith? Don’t try to break laws under color of that faith. And so on.

But the 2nd Amendment is different. There, there seems to be a presumption of abuse. “You want to exercise your right to keep and bear arms? OK, fine. Fill out this form, this form, this form, this form, take this class, this class, get this certificate, pay this fee, then come back in a couple of weeks, and we’ll tell you no.”

There are those who say that the language of the 2nd Amendment is sufficiently different from other Amendments that acknowledge specific individual rights (the 1st and the 6th, for example) that restrictions such as this are allowed. I’ll address those in part 2, to be published later today.

Number 2 with a bullet (part 2 of 2)
Stupid is as Stupid Does

20 Comments

  1. B Moe July 19, 2005
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