|Brothers Matt, Wayne and Jack in Jack's gun room,|
mugging for the camera.
Ever since the Newtown shootings, I, like a lot of other people, have come to the conclusion that something needs to be done about the gun violence in this country. I do not have an issue in the world with people owning and using the kinds of guns I learned to use but until deer start wearing kevlar, I cannot figure out why people need the so-called military-style assault weaponry. Those things exist for one purpose – to kill people. Owning one says, in my book, “I'm prepared to kill people.”
I've been listening with interest to all the ranting and raving about “taking away our 2nd Amendment Rights.” What I want to know is, what makes 2nd Amendment Rights so much more sacred than our 1st Amendment Rights. I've thought a lot about the 1st Amendment because, as a writer and a publisher, I am continually aware of how so-called “freedom of speech” is regulated and limited by law. Almost every writer I know has had some kind of a brush with curbing their 1st Amendment right to free speech in order to keep themselves out of trouble. There are laws about plagarism and copyright infringement, libel and hate speech, pornography and “inciting.” I, personally, have been involved in a situation where I was threatened with a lawsuit if I continued to publish a book that was written by someone else (with my help) once the author died.
Now, let me say, for the most part I think regulation on the limitation of feedom of speech is a good thing. Though I am opposed to most forms of censorship, I think writers have a right to have their work protected. I think people in general have a right to be protected from libelous statements, from having their names and reputations impuned, from being the victims of hate speech and verbal abuse. So, even though the 1st Amendments grants citizens freedom of speech, the laws of the land place limits on that freedom of speech, and require that the privilege of free speech be used responsibly. Why cannot these same standards apply to the 2nd Amendment?
While I was thinking about this, I looked up the Bill of Rights, which I probably had not read since college, and I was struck by a few things I hadn't thought about before. For instance, the very FIRST statement of the very FIRST Amendment says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; -- This struck me because many of the very same people who are ranting about their 2nd Amendment Rights are also ranting that the United States is a “Christian country” which is directly contradictory to the FIRST statement of the First Amendment. The third statement (after the freedom of speech and the press part) is: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. -- You know, like those “Occupy” people. The ones that were being beaten, arrested, pepper-sprayed, etc. last year. Where were all the folks all cranky about Constitutional rights when that was going on?
In fact, a thorough reading of the Bill of Rights makes you realize how flagrantly those rights are being violated on a regular basis. We are protected from “unreasonable search and seizure” and yet women are pulled over and strip searched on the side of highways in Texas. We are guaranteed speedy trials, yet many accused spend months in prison waiting for a trial date. We are protected from “excessive bail” and “cruel and unusual punishments” yet bails are set for millions of dollars and we still have the death penalty.
So, for some reason that no one can explain to me, the 2nd Amendment is deemed to be “special” and immune from the regulation that most of the other amendments are subjected to. I'd really love to know why.
Thanks for reading.