Guns, Freedom & The Second Amendment

I support – and will work for – universal background checks, with no exceptions, strict licensing and training requirements for gun ownership, and a well-regulated militia, as called for in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

There are reasonable limits on the First Amendment right to free speech – as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Schenk v United States, 1919,

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

One can’t falsely shout “Fire” in a crowded theater to create a panic. To paraphrase Justice Holmes,

The most stringent protection of the Second Amendment should not enable a man, or a woman, to open fire in a crowded theater, school, mall, supermarket, or public forum.

Thus, as noted above, “I support – and will work for – universal background checks, with no exceptions, strict licensing and training requirements for gun ownership, and a well-regulated militia, as called for in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Such regulations may not have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre in Dec., 2012, the tragic accidental killing of a 6-year-old by his 4-year-old friend in Toms River, NJ Tuesday, April 9, 2013, or many of the 8,583 gun deaths in 2011 (source).

Then again, if guns and ammunition were required to be locked in separate cabinets, then the 4-year-old Toms River child might not be able to get his hands on a loaded 22 caliber rifle on April 9, 2013.  If insurance and psychological testing were part of the gun safety and weapons control regime then Adam Lanza might not have been able to gain access to his mother’s arsenal, and James Holmes, the latest Aurora, Colorado shooter, might not have been able to plan and execute the July 20, 2012 massacre.

The framers of the Constitution recognized that it is imperfect law, and that other laws may also be imperfect. Therefore citizens can challenge the law, the Constitution can be changed, and it has been amended 27 times, and laws deemed to be “unconstitutional” are void.

This is real freedom. The freedom to protest and make our voices heard. The freedom to call our representatives on the phone, tell them what we think, hold them accountable for their words and their actions, support the candidates we choose, and even to run for office.