Politics has always made for strange bed fellows.
Gun folks and the ACLU don’t generally hang out together at the range. Our watering holes sport deer heads and antlers and theirs, button down shirts and Birkenstocks. We have had some common interests though when it comes to the Constitution and the convergence of the 1st and 2nd Amendments.
Although the ACLU considers the 2nd Amendment a “collective” rather than an “individual” right, they have stood with us on a number of issues: the privacy rights of gun owners, opposing the “trackability” of RFID “chip” technology, fighting prosecutors who defy laws that protect individuals from being arrested for having guns in their cars, and most recently the Obama era rule that targeted disability insurance recipients wrongly portrayed as being mentally defective and thus, unable to possess a gun.
If the ACLU has been one thing – it’s been a consistent defender of the First Amendment – regardless of how ugly and disgusting certain speech has been. They have defended the worst of the worst – hatred spewing groups and individuals. Again, one of the things that distinguishes America from other nations is that we have a Constitutional right to be stupid and say awful, horrid things – and we are also protected from being prosecuted for being vile. The Supreme Court has steadily ruled that hate-filled speech is protected by the First Amendment – regardless of how unpopular and disgusting it may be.
But in the aftermath of the despicable events in Charlottesville, the ACLU has confirmed it will no longer defend the First Amendment rights of “hate groups” that have otherwise legally decided to exercise – under the 2nd Amendment – their right to openly carry firearms.
Indeed, Charlottesville ignited a lot more than a piling on hatred for President Trump – clearly spurring the ACLU to “go soft,” as reported by the Daily Signal.
The online publication Slate may have pushed the ACLU over the Constitutional edge when they charged those exercising open carry of bringing firearms with the intent to “hurt people they want to see extinguished.” The leftist magazine (which is vehemently anti-gun) also made the absurd case that “guns won” in Charlottesville and called for the 2nd Amendment to be “reevaluated.”
However, in a more enlightened – and truthful – analysis of the ACLU’s switcheroo, the Daily Signal’s Amy Swearer writes:
No matter how disgusting most Americans find the viewpoints of the tiki torch-carrying white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville, even they have a constitutionally protected right to espouse their repugnant views.
This must-read provides a sharp contrast to Slate’s wrongheaded view of our Constitution:
“Apparently, the guns won without firing a single bullet or causing a single injury. Despite Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s claim that 80 percent of protesters came armed with semi-automatic weapons, he readily admitted that not a single shot was fired.”
The Signal further pointed out that the ACLU’s move “lends support to Slate’s false assertion that the First and Second Amendments are at war—a complete misunderstanding of the relationship between these two cornerstones of American liberty…Far from negating the First Amendment, the Second Amendment gives teeth to the First Amendment.
The Second Amendment acts as an insurance measure for the person seeking to exercise free speech, as it serves as a visible deterrent to anyone who would try to suppress that speech using physical aggression.”
The Daily Signal continues its juggernaut of precision:
“Slate seems to suggest a balancing test for determining whether the exercise of the Second Amendment is outweighed by the risks of gun violence. This type of test, however, was explicitly rejected by the court as insufficient for protecting an enumerated right
This is important. There are, unfortunately, individuals whose explicit goal is the use of physical violence as a means of suppressing views they find abhorrent.
In a twisted notion of tolerance, they assert the “right” to suppress nonviolent but offensive speech with actual violence. They show up prepared to inflict bodily harm with any means available, from fists and pepper spray to baseball bats and improvised flamethrowers.”
These concluding points are pointed and must not be overlooked:
Leading conservative outlets no more endorse the views of the white nationalists whose rights they defend than the ACLU defends the message of the neo-Nazis, racist fraternities, or funeral-protesting churches, whose constitutional rights the ACLU routinely defends.
Rather than weakening the protection of fundamental First and Second Amendment rights, the proper (and constitutional) response to abhorrent ideas is to bring them to the intellectual woodshed and break them to pieces on the chopping block of reason.
More over, the solution is never to pit the Second Amendment against the First Amendment. The two mutually support each other and together strengthen individual liberty, just as the Founders intended.
To read the article in its entirety, click here.