One of the common arguments used by those who support “reasonable” restrictions on the right to bear arms is that our forefathers could not have imagined the types of guns and armaments that exist today compared to the firearms of their day. They say that the second amendment was never meant to cover machine guns or other modern weapons and restricting ownership of certain guns is acceptable under this presumption. It is often members of the press who advocate such a view and utilize their freedom of speech and the press to spread their opinion on the subject.
Well, my dear members of the fourth pillar…people who live in glass houses should refrain from throwing stones. To quote a phrase frequently referenced by you and your peers, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” and not only mightier but far more dangerous than any gun in the hands of a citizen.
Where it is argued that guns today do not fall under the intent of the 2nd amendment one might make a similar argument for mediums that are used for the expression of the 1st amendment. At the time of the founding the only implements for expressing speech were written or printed word. There was no way our forefathers could have imagined a media that could broadcast instantly to any home across the country. There is also no manner by which we could assume that they would have considered the invention of radio, television, or the internet.
For a perfect example of the dangerous power wielded by such mediums we needn’t look far. In 1938, Orson Wells produced a radio dramatization which convinced some people that we were in the midst of an invasion. As a result of the ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast several people committed suicide while others fled in panic causing mass hysteria. All of this because someone expressed their first amendment rights; surely this type of broadcast is something that was not covered under the original intent of those who drafted our Constitution and should be an example of why reasonable restrictions on free speech should be considered.
The modern media holds great influence over the public and can be misused in the wrong hands to do great harm. The power still exists to spread misinformation and with the ability to disseminate information so quickly wouldn’t it be rational to place restrictions on these mediums that could never have been imagined by men who lived over 200 years ago?
If you think my analogy is completely off base then perhaps you need a reminder of events in the immediate past. Following the recent shooting in Arizona there was blame placed upon talk radio and members of the media accompanied by calls for restrictions on speech by public officials. Speech, not just guns was blamed for the actions of a lone criminal. Are you still inclined to make arguments about “reasonable” restrictions for firearms?
My point in all this is to show those of you who think going after one essential liberty can be done with out opening the door to assault other freedoms is a grave error in judgment. You are playing with fire. The 2nd amendment is not something you can apply a subjective filter to without setting a precedent for the same arguments to be used against your treasured rights.
Pragmatic justifications for restrictions on Constitutional liberty seems like such a wonderful idea until it makes sense for someone to come after your rights.