Slate is always good for seeing the left’s faulty opinions, and this article is no exception. My first thought when I read the headline: “The Supreme Court May Elevate the Second Amendment Above the First” was something along the lines of, “Oh, what fresh idiocy is this?”
The article begins by pointing out that there are numerous restrictions on the time, manner, and place of free speech. Examples include rules that a ensure that expression does not interfere with their normal use. Rallies interfere with picnics and family gatherings. Parades and picketing block traffic and access to homes and businesses. The author then asks if firearms prevent the public from use and enjoyment of public spaces before going on to say:
Individuals may be injured and even killed when firearms are misused, improperly handled, or even when they are used properly. Even when a gunshot strikes the intended target, others may still be injured because the bullet may pass through the target and injure someone else or because the presence of the gun and gunfire cause a panic.
This is flawed, because the mere possession of firearms do nothing of the sort, any more than mere possession of a bible, political literature, or other materials that some find offensive interfere with the public’s use of a space. What the author is doing is conflating possession with use. No one is saying that people should be permitted to fire weapons in the middle of the street. The above argument is nothing more than the tired, old “yelling fire in a crowded theater” argument.
The author goes on to say:
the plaintiffs are not demanding the right to merely carry the firearm; they are demanding the right to use the firearm for self-defense. Thus, the fundamental question is not whether the presence of firearms threatens public safety but whether their use threatens public safety. The answer should be obvious, and the lessons of First Amendment jurisprudence should apply.
I actually agree. You see, using a firearm for self defense means that the person using that firearm is doing so to protect his own (or another’s) life from the unlawful use of force from a person illegally using that force. Just as a judge may prevent me from yelling out and disturbing his courtroom, no judge would argue that I cannot yell out to warn the occupants that the building is on fire, or that there is a man about to strike the judge with an axe from behind.
The author actually goes on to make a great point, and one which I agree with in principle, but I am betting not in the way that he is intending:
According to the court, “the peaceful enjoyment of freedoms which the Constitution guarantees contingent upon the uncontrolled will of an official—as by requiring a permit or license which may be granted or withheld in the discretion of such official—is unconstitutional.” The same should be true for firearms, and, arguably, this is where New York’s law fails. The requirement that applicants must show “proper cause” may be insufficiently clear and objective, allowing officials to exercise an unconstitutional amount of discretion.
If the court adopts this approach, it will follow a clearly marked path that will force New York to reconsider its standards for restricting guns in public, but allow it to still maintain some such standards. If the public forum doctrine is good enough for those seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights, it should be good enough for those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights as well.
My agreement here is that they should be permitted to require permits for concealed carry, as long as those permits are issued under clear, and unbiased criteria. I would accept shall issue- that is, anyone who completes a reasonable safety course and is not a prohibited person shall be issued a permit.
I am betting that isn’t what the author is thinking.