A question about the Second Amendment

Wednesday, 6 February 2013
I've been listening to political conversations about gun control this week and I have a serious question. Before I pose it, please allow me to say that I support the Constitution of the United States and our fine liberties provided by it.

Specifically in my research on news media, I spend time examining the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment in the context of Democratic Theory, Public Forum Doctrine and First Amendment Theory. I believe that people (citizen journalists) have the freedom to express their attitudes, believes and values whether I agree with them or not.

However, while we have the freedom of speech, not all speech is protected. Hate speech is outside the law. Congress has interpreted the law to determine that hate speech is, "any speech, gesture or conduct... which is forbidden because it may incite violence..."Most Americans do not protest that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

This gets to my question about the current debate about aspects of the Second Amendment. Again, I support the right of a person to own a gun whether I do or not. Hunting is important in many rural communities in order to cull the animal population or perhaps feed a family. Some people believe that owning a gun is a tool to protect their family. I understand that. I do not understand why responsible gun owners take issue with the suggestion of a ban on military assault weapons and magazines that hold large amounts of ammunition that can be quickly fired.

Society evolves and culture slightly changes over decades and centuries. Although hate speech has always existed and people will find motivation to use it (racism, sexism, elitism), technology allows it to be reproduced and disseminated quickly. Perhaps this is why a modern interpretation of the First Amendment was necessary.

Technology impacts the gun industry as well. Who benefits if military assault weapons are legal in our communities? Those who create, produce and sell them need to keep the industry flourishing.

Interpretation of the law regarding the Second Amendment (considering advances in technology, context of the law when it was developed and the purpose of our founding fathers) may show some measures are necessary to protect communities from criminals who would use these weapons to kill masses quickly. This seems like a progressive, practical step in the right direction. Please argue this point if you're interested. I respect your views. 

2 comments

LizP said...

I was curious to the actual text of the 2nd Amendment so I googled it ... "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." (As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State)

The problem is "arms" is not defined. In 1791 I don't think they ever envisioned the possiblity of the weaponry available today.

Now this is my opinion ... as with the 1st amendment where not all speech is free, I don't believe we have to right to bear any weapon we want. If you want to hunt or protect your home, great get a license for your weapon and better yet take a class. But seriously, the need for military assault weapons and large quantity magazines is (again in my opinion) over the top ridiculous. We need to have laws enacted to prevent this.

Lee Elder said...

There are no clauses or caveats in the Second Amendment. There's also no upswing in public opinion to take guns away from lawful gun owners. It's the same crowd that has always wanted government to confiscate privately owned firearms who are trying to exploit a terrible tragedy to advance their agenda. I do hope this president will continue to push this agenda. He's going to find out next year how serious people are about gun ownership. For him, it's just another excuse for him not to discuss the faltering economy.