I know I said I’d be taking a little break from blogging, but until my campaign kicks into high gear, this opinion piece by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was simply too crazy to take a pass on.
In writing about bipartisan calls for a serious national dialogue on the issue of gun control in the wake of last week’s terribly tragedy in Connecticut, Sheriff Clarke said any calls to restrict the ability of U.S. citizens to own assault rifles and extended-capacity magazines should be resisted “with the ferociousness of a junk yard dog,” and he argued the second amendment should not be limited, just as the first amendment isn’t restricted.
We have to resist with the ferociousness of a junk yard dog, any, any attempt by liberals to make us less free by chipping away at our constitutional freedoms. The second amendment is as sacred a right as is first amendment or any other amendment. I’ll be willing to have a conversation with liberals about gun control in the same conversation we should have about whether government should restrict our first amendment right or how about whether we should scale back our fourth amendment rights, how about restricting our 14th amendment due process rights? Let’s have a debate about the second amendment in that same conversation. Then let’s see what the left has to say about restricting our freedoms.
Sheriff Clarke’s huffing and puffing about an unlimited second amendment to go with an unlimited first amendment shows his complete lack of understanding that there are in fact very clear limits on our first amendment rights, as outlined by our nation’s Supreme Court – the ultimate arbiters of what’s Constitutional and what’s not.
The Freedom Forum does an excellent job of outlining the limits on our first amendment rights to free speech. For example, false and defamatory statements (slander/libel) are not protected under the first amendment, nor are “fighting words” that are likely to cause violence orother disorderly words, including profanity, obscenity and threats.
What’s more, obscenity – something a conservative like Sheriff Clarke is likely opposed to in practice – do not enjoy first amendment protections, nor do words that would create a clear and present danger, such as yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.
It’s pretty clear there are very reasonable limits to our first amendment rights to free speech, and I’d argue there’s plenty of room for reasonable limits on our second amendment rights, so long as those limits don’t unreasonably infringe on those rights.