Standing Up for the Whole Bill of Rights
As I travel throughout Central Florida, people often stop and ask me my thoughts on the Second Amendment and the reforms proposed by President Obama and the Senate. As a former law enforcement professional for seventeen years and a legislator at both the state and federal level, including service on the committees dealing with firearms and constitutional issues, I feel I have some good insight into this discussion.
The most important thing to understand in this whole discussion is the fundamental differences in premises between supporters of the Second Amendment and those who support increased gun control measures. Those of us who stand behind the Second Amendment examine this issue by stating first principles, then asking ourselves questions. A typical discussion would proceed like this:
The Second Amendment to our Constitution guarantees all Americans the individual right to keep and bear arms. This right has been endowed on us by our Creator and upheld by the Supreme Court, and is the basis for any discussion. The first question after accepting that premise is, has the individual taken an action that disqualifies them from having access to that right? Have they committed a felony? Are they a danger to themselves or others? Have they been adjudicated mentally incompetent? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the individual has rightly lost their right to a firearm. If not, then there is no constitutional reason for the denial of their Second Amendment rights.
Much of the debate in the Senate earlier this year failed to accept this fundamental premise. Those supporting increased gun control started with the constitutionally flawed premise that our rights are given to us by the government and limiting certain types and styles of guns would save lives. While we share a conviction for upholding the sanctity of life, we must do so in ways that protect our constitutional freedoms and liberties.
Recently, much has been made in the media about the Obama Administration subpoenaing the Associated Press, ostensibly to track down a national security leak. Leaving aside the specifics of this particular case, it is instructive to see how the mainstream media and elected Democrats are picking and choosing which Amendments to the Constitution they choose to support – standing behind the First, and abandoning the Second.
Most people are not aware that the news media does not have an unlimited First Amendment right to free speech. They can be prosecuted and investigated for violations of the law and for endangering the nation’s security. The Supreme Court has upheld these restrictions in the past and would likely do so again.
But whether or not the Obama Administration conducted its “leak investigation” appropriately, the outrage from the left is shocking. In the case of firearms, they argue that limiting our fundamental rights is allowable, even necessary. In the case of the news media, analogous limitations are to be condemned and shouted down from the rooftops.
When groups like the National Rifle Association point out that the Second Amendment protects our rights to own firearms, they are excoriated in the media. When the Associated Press points out that the First Amendment protects our right to speech, they are lauded and feted by the rest of the media.
When Senate conservatives like Rand Paul and Mike Lee stand up to those willing to undermine our constitutional right to own firearms, they are equated to baby-killers and compared to Eichman and Hitler. When the Associated Press stands up to a national security investigation from the Obama Administration, they are applauded for protecting First Amendment rights.
As a conservative I take a lot of flak for standing up for my principles and beliefs in limited government and personal freedoms. But being a true patriot also means standing up in support of ALL of our constitutional liberties, not just the ones we like or don’t like. Those pushing for more gun control need to remember that lesson and understand that swearing an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution means supporting the Second Amendment just as much as the First.