Retired Circuit Justice Kozinski once said:
“The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten.”
It seems that “….silences those who protest.” is not so ‘improbable’ these days, is it?
A poll conducted by Caravan Surveys for the Campaign for Free Speech revealed alarming support among Americans for rewriting the First Amendment and underscores the danger of putting constitutionally-protected fundamental rights up to a public vote.
According to the survey, “some 51 percent of people in the US believe that the (First) amendment…should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of today.” The poll of 1,004 respondents also revealed that 48 percent believe “hate speech,” while not defined, should be illegal and half of the people think punishment should include possible imprisonment or fines. A whopping 57 percent of poll respondents think the government should be able to penalize news agencies for publishing “content that is biased, inflammatory, or false.”
The poll results have frightening ramifications for our free speech and free press rights. The fact that a majority of people now seem to be rethinking our freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights should be troubling to all Americans.
What is equally troubling is the failure of the establishment media to see the parallels between this sudden attack on the First Amendment and the ongoing crusade against the Second Amendment.
As authors of the recently-released book “Good Guys with Guns,” we recognize there are good journalists with keyboards and bad journalists with keyboards. Good ones should not be penalized for the misbehavior of the bad ones. The same principle must apply to how we treat the rights of more than 100 million American gun owners who have never harmed anyone or committed any crime, yet how many editorial pages have repeatedly demanded more restrictions on the Second Amendment because some people break the law?
When talking about constitutionally-enumerated rights, great care must be taken to separate rights from privileges. For too many years, far too many people in the media have treated the Second Amendment as a privilege to be heavily regulated. The Campaign for Free Speech poll puts such corrosive thinking in its proper perspective.
Simply, you cannot advocate restrictions or abolition of your neighbors’ rights, which you don’t support, without putting your own rights at risk. With the release of these new survey results, that vulture has come home to roost.