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The War Between the Amendments
Townhall.com ^ | January 17, 2013 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 01/17/2013 1:09:13 AM PST by Kaslin

The horrific Newtown, Conn., mass shooting has unleashed a frenzy to pass new gun-control legislation. But the war over restricting firearms is not just between liberals and conservatives; it also pits the first two amendments to the U.S. Constitution against each other.

Apparently, in the sequential thinking of James Madison and the Founding Fathers, the right to free expression and the guarantee to own arms were the two most important personal liberties. But now these two cherished rights seem to be at odds with each other and have caused bitter exchanges between interpreters of the Constitution.

Many liberals believe there is no need to own semi-automatic assault rifles, magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, or even semi-automatic handguns. They argue that hunters and sportsmen don't need such rapid-firing guns to kill their game -- and that slower-firing revolvers and pump- or bolt-action rifles are sufficient for home protection.

Implicit to the liberal argument for tighter gun control is the belief that the ability to rapidly fire off lots of bullets either empowers -- or indeed encourages -- mass murderers to butcher the innocent.

Most conservatives offer rebuttals to all those points. Criminals will always break almost any law they choose. Connecticut, for example, has among the tightest gun-control laws in the nation. A murderer can pop in three 10-bullet clips in succession and still spray his targets almost as effectively as a shooter with a single 30-bullet magazine. Like a knife or bomb, a gun is a tool, and the human who misuses it is the only guilty party. An armed school guard might do more to stop a mass shooting on campus than a law outlawing the shooter's preferred weapon or magazine.

Homeowners should have the right to own weapons comparable to those of criminals, who often pack illicit semi-automatic handguns. If mass murders are the real concern, should ammonium nitrate be outlawed, given that Timothy McVeigh slaughtered 168 innocents in Oklahoma City with fertilizer? Banning semi-automatic weapons marks a slippery slope -- each new restriction will soon lead to yet another rationalization to go after yet another type of gun.

Liberals counter that just as free speech is curtailed (you cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded auditorium), the constitutional right to bear arms is no more infringed upon by the banning of semi-automatic, large magazine firearms than it is by current prohibitions against heavy machine guns.

Conservatives reply that the chief purpose of the Second Amendment was not necessarily just to ensure personal protection from criminals or the freedom to hunt with firearms, but in fact to guarantee that a well-armed populace might enjoy some parity to an all-powerful, centralized government. To the Founders, the notion that individual citizens had recourse to weapons comparable to those of federal authorities was a strong deterrent to government infringing upon constitutionally protected freedoms -- rights that cannot simply be hacked away by presidential executive orders.

That may be why the brief Second Amendment explicitly cites the desirability of a militia. By intent, it was followed by the Third Amendment, which restricts the rights of an abusive government to quarter federal troops in citizens' homes.

So which amendment should we begin pruning to deal with monsters like those at Newtown and Columbine?

The Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza, was known to be mentally unstable. He sat for hours transfixed with violent video games -- in a popular culture of cheap Hollywood mayhem where bodies implode on the big screen without worry over the effect of such gratuitous carnage on the viewer.

Just as semi-automatic weapons mark a technological sea change from the flintlock muskets of the Founders' era, computer-simulated video dismemberment is a world away from the spirited political pamphleteering of the 18th century. If we talk of restricting the Second Amendment to protect us against modern technological breakthroughs, why not curtail the First Amendment as well?

How about an executive order to Hollywood to stop its graphic depictions of mass killings, perhaps limiting the nature and rationing the number of shootings that can appear in any one film? Can't we ban violent video games altogether in the same way we forbid child pornography? Isn't it past time for an executive order to curtail some of the rights of the mentally unstable -- given that the gunmen in mass killings usually have a history of psychic disorders and often use mood-altering drugs?

If conservatives have ensured that there are millions of semi-automatic assault weapons in American society, liberals' unprecedented expansions of free expression have led to an alarming number of unhinged Americans on our streets, nursed on sick games like "Grand Theft Auto" and hours of watching odious movies such as "Natural Born Killers."

Legislating away the evil in men's heads and hearts can be a tricky -- and sometimes unconstitutional -- business.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: assaultweaponsban; banglist; constitution; democrats; firstamendment; guncontrol; hollywood; newtown; obama; sandyhook; secondamendment; vdh; victordavishanson; violentvideogames

1 posted on 01/17/2013 1:09:21 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Maybe it’s a natural result of X-Box providing the only interactive male role-model in a fatherless society?


2 posted on 01/17/2013 2:40:06 AM PST by TArcher
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To: Kaslin
It would be an interesting object lesson for Republicans to sponsor legislation which severely curtailed Hollywood, TV and the video game industry. Just pretend that the First Amendment does not exist, and then legislate what can and cannot be spoken of, or shown to the public.

And when the media goes berserk, we can ask why the Second Amendment doesn't deserve the same respect they demand for the First.

3 posted on 01/17/2013 3:24:43 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: Kaslin

Funny I just realized that VDH is actually a strange squish-bug like parasite in the Conservative movement in the vein of the ever ‘smart’ but worthless ‘in actual defense of American Conservative culture’ Chas. Krauthammer. We need better thinkers and writers, no more of the Straussian faux-cons!


4 posted on 01/17/2013 4:17:34 AM PST by iopscusa (El Vaquero. (SC Lowcountry Cowboy))
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To: Kaslin
Many liberals believe there is no need to own semi-automatic assault rifles, magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, or even semi-automatic handguns. They argue that hunters and sportsmen don't need such rapid-firing guns to kill their game -- and that slower-firing revolvers and pump- or bolt-action rifles are sufficient for home protection.

Well, we aren't talking about The Bill of Needs now are we?

5 posted on 01/17/2013 4:22:45 AM PST by Graybeard58
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To: Graybeard58

Very true!

Since when does the Government get to decide what I need ?


6 posted on 01/17/2013 4:57:13 AM PST by TheRobb7 ("Patriots don't negotiate the terms of our enslavement"--JimRob)
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To: Kaslin
Liberals counter that just as free speech is curtailed (you cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded auditorium).

This argument is frequently used, but is not really accurate.

I could indeed yell "Fire" in a crowded theater to my little heart's content, provided I was not somehow restrained, or until someone forced me to stop. I would certainly, and would expect to, be held accountable for the resulting pandemonium and any damages.

The only way I could be prevented from doing so would be to physically restrict my ability to do so, perhaps by gluing my lips shut.

But, what if there actually were a fire?

It is this prior restraint that the Statists want to enact upon lawful gun owners. They want to make sure that everyone cannot yell "fire", instead of holding folks accountable if they do so inappropriately.

7 posted on 01/17/2013 5:48:25 AM PST by aragorn (We do indeed live in interesting times. FUBO.)
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To: Kaslin

Actually, you can, (and must), yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater,

if there is a fire in the theater.


8 posted on 01/17/2013 5:56:57 AM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: aragorn

GMTA.


9 posted on 01/17/2013 5:57:54 AM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee

I was thinking exactly the same thing!


10 posted on 01/17/2013 5:59:48 AM PST by aragorn (We do indeed live in interesting times. FUBO.)
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To: Graybeard58

Well, the Amendments: “I needs me a ‘BamaPhone” and “I needs me a EBT” have not been added yet, but the inauguration approaches.


11 posted on 01/17/2013 6:05:52 AM PST by Aevery_Freeman (Proud Thought Criminal since 1984)
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To: Travis McGee

If it is a bunch of liberals or the media, maybe for the good of society you should restrain yourself.


12 posted on 01/17/2013 6:07:19 AM PST by Ratman83
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To: Graybeard58
They argue that hunters and sportsmen don't need such rapid-firing guns to kill their game -- and that slower-firing revolvers and pump- or bolt-action rifles are sufficient for home protection. /// Well, we aren't talking about The Bill of Needs now are we?

Exactly. Although they could be on to something if they would only pass a law that no more than one person could break into your home at any time, the perp cannot be on drugs, and agrees to fall down and give up even if not mortally wounded. Then we might only "need" a revolver with wad cutters for protection.

13 posted on 01/17/2013 6:16:54 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: iopscusa
Funny I just realized that VDH is actually a strange squish-bug like parasite in the Conservative movement in the vein of the ever ‘smart’ but worthless ‘in actual defense of American Conservative culture’ Chas. Krauthammer.

What....are you typing about? I've written Krauthammer off for the most part, but VDH?

FMCDH(BITS)

14 posted on 01/17/2013 7:42:49 AM PST by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: iopscusa

Did you read ENTIRE article? Read more of Hanson. He is one of the most thoughtful/ serious conservatives


15 posted on 01/17/2013 8:08:27 AM PST by capt B
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To: Kaslin; All

The best first amendment argument is that the MSM is shouting Fire! in crowded schools by giving such elated, 24/7 coverage of the mass shootings in their lust for more gun control.

The first amendment infringement that would save the most live would be to curtail the mass media’s explotation of these mass murders.

http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/stop-school-shootings-hold-media.html


16 posted on 01/17/2013 8:58:00 AM PST by marktwain
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To: capt B; nothingnew

Here’s my thinking; VDH has written a lot about the illegal alien takeover in Cali, eloquently cataloging the damage but tepid in any defense of actual Anglo American culture and never offering solutions regarding stopping the damage.


17 posted on 01/17/2013 11:49:02 AM PST by iopscusa (El Vaquero. (SC Lowcountry Cowboy))
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To: TheRobb7
Since when does the Government get to decide what I need ?

Only about 200 years or so, but finally they have enough power in place to tell you exactly what you are entitled to.

18 posted on 01/17/2013 2:06:30 PM PST by itsahoot (MSM and Fox free since Nov 1st. If it doesn’t happen here then it didn't happen.)
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To: capt B; iopscusa
Read more of Hanson. He is one of the most thoughtful/ serious conservatives

He sounded pretty squishy in parts of this article to me as well.

19 posted on 01/17/2013 2:10:53 PM PST by itsahoot (MSM and Fox free since Nov 1st. If it doesn’t happen here then it didn't happen.)
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