Thursday, August 18, 2016
Shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater
One of the lies Donald Trump continues to spout is his claim that Hillary Clinton plans to do away with the 2nd Amendment.
Clinton has explicitly denied any such desire, but that doesn't stop a pompous braggart from repeating the lie because, if he did retract it, that would make him out to be, well, a liar.
Who in their right mind would believe that anyone has the power to do away with a plank of the constitution? Only someone who has never read the constitution, as evidenced by his belief that Supreme Court justices can vote on bills.
What Clinton actually says is that she wants to pass legislation for background checks on gun sales at arena-style gun shows, close the online gun-buying loophole, and prevent domestic violence abusers, the mentally ill and those on the no-fly list from legally being able to buy a gun. She has also supported in the past a ban on the sale of assault rifles, a ban that was passed during her husband's administration but has since been allowed to expire under the succeeding Republican administration and Republican Congress.
There is nothing in Hillary Clinton's proposals that would prevent a lawful citizen from buying a weapon. I would like to see Clinton go even further and reintroduce a proposal that would ban the civilian sale of ammunition that is designed solely for the purpose of penetrating bullet-proof armor. Such ammo puts the lives of all police officers at immediate peril, but Donald Trump, who defends the police out of one side of his mouth, turns around and out of the other side of his mouth offers his full support to the sale of cop-killing bullets.
The gun-rights lobby's standard reaction to such common-sense gun legislation is that any law curbing the right to bear arms is a violation of the 2nd Amendment. They also argue that the people who are pushing for 2nd Amendment limitations would be the first to oppose similar restrictions on the 1st Amendment, the right to free speech and of the press.
Here's what is so flawed about the gun lobby's argument:
There already ARE limits on the 1st Amendment. If Trump and his 2nd Amendment folks ever bothered to read the canon of constitutional law, they would know this.
If there were no limits on the 1st Amendment, I'd be able to say that Donald Trump has had sex with his daughter, regardless of whether I knew it were true or not. But I can't say such a thing, because there ARE limits on free speech and the 1st Amendment. These limits are called libel laws.
If there were no limits on the 1st Amendment, I'd be able to exercise my right to free speech by owning multiple media outlets in the same metropolitan area. But I can't because there ARE laws preventing me from doing that. The law forbids me from owning TV stations, newspapers and radio stations all in the same city.
If there were no limits on the 1st Amendment right to free speech, I'd be able to stand up in a crowded theater and shout "FIRE!" But I can't, because the Supreme Court has, in its wisdom, decreed that such speech is NOT protected by the 1st Amendment.
These laws that do indeed infringe the right of free speech -- and of the press -- are accepted today almost without a second thought. So why can't we have common-sense curbs on the right to bear arms, to respect the overriding constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by making it harder for others to take away my life, my liberty and my happiness with a gun?
Why can't we put our money where our mouth is and protect the lives of police officers with a ban on civilian use of cop-killing ammo? Why can't we take the time to check whether a gun buyer at an outdoor trade show doesn't have a criminal background and isn't on a terrorist watch list?
And why can't we have a ban on the civilian ownership of assault weapons that are intended solely for the mass extermination of human life?
If the 2nd Amendment allows anybody to have any type of weapon, why can't someone own a nuclear bomb? To take the gun lobby's illogical arguments to their logical extreme, a nuclear warhead is just like a bullet. I should be able to buy one, right?
Read the constitution, Mr. Trump. Put your money where your mouth is and support a ban on cop-killing ammo and assault weapons.
And while we're at it, stop calling on gun nuts to take matters into their own hands. You are basically shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, and when a gun nut hears "FIRE!" you know damn well what he'll do.