Wednesday, February 06, 2013

1st Amendment Rights vs. 2nd Amendment Rights: Why the Hypocrisy?

I grew up in a house full of guns. My dad and all 3 of my brothers were/are hunters. My dad had his own loading room where he loaded bullets and we helped him. Sometimes we loaded bullets with wax tips. Dad would set up a paper target over the coal bin (do people even have coal bins these days?) and we would target shoot there with the wax-tipped bullets. All of us learned gun safety from a very early age. Dad loved guns and loved tinkering with them. I remember helping him “blue” the steel parts of some of his hunting rifles to cut down on the glare while hunting. In college I shoot both rifles and pistols. I have no issue with guns when they are used responsibly.
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.  

3 comments:

rdougwicker.com said...

Well, I certainly agree that the 2nd Amendment is no different from any other when it comes to caveats, but I vehemently disagree with outlawing weapons just because someone else doesn't see a purpose behind them. First of all, so-called assault weapons are no different in function, caliber, or operation from other semiautomatic weaponry that doesn't look "scary." A bad person can do just as much damage with a Ruger Ranch Rifle (not considered "assault") as one can with a Bushmaster. Most gun control advocates have not a clue as to the validity of that.

We live in a country where other people do not get to decide whether you can or cannot own something just because someone else doesn't think you have a "need" for one. People don't "need" high performance sports cars or three-ton SUVs (which, by the way, kill a whole lot more people annually than do guns), yet we don't seriously start talking about taking away the right to own one.

And, yes, there are other uses for "assault" weapons beyond making the personal statement that the owner is, ". . . prepared to kill people." It also says things such as, "I like target shooting," "I'm a collector of certain firearms," and, "I concur with the BATF that such weapons are indeed ideal for home protection," which indeed the BATF has done.

It also says (just as a local example), if I'm a rancher who leaves on the Mexican border two hours from the nearest sheriff substation, that I'm willing AND able to protect myself from bad people with bad intentions transporting bad things across the border. You really want to concede that area to drug cartels and their mules? I don't.

Kathleen Valentine said...

So many people come up with the excuse that assault weapons are essential to personal defense and yet they never back them up with any real data. One person testified about a mother defending her children from home invasion but that testimony was proven to be hyperbolic and largely fictional. Yes, we do put restrictions on what people can own - there are many weapons of war that individuals cannot own.

Can you show me statistics on SUVs killing more people than guns? I've never seen that claim backed up.

rdougwicker.com said...

High, Kathleen. Actually, I was referring to vehicle deaths in general rather than SUVs in particular. But if you want to see some examples of vehicles causing mass deaths, I wrote a satirical piece on the subject (which includes links to read data) at:

http://rdougwicker.com/2013/01/23/when-will-we-reign-in-these-deliverers-of-death/

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