….[A] lack of need for someone to perform a given activity does not automatically make a constitutionally sound argument in favor of government regulation.
Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man pointed me to this excellent essay by Jazz Shaw posted at Hot Air, the linchpin of which I quote above. Peter says,
I’ll accept as many limitations to Second Amendment rights as are acceptable to limit the First Amendment. You want to deny me the ‘right’ to own high-capacity magazines? Fine – but then I deny you the right to own high-capacity printing devices. For every bullet you want to remove from my magazines, I want to remove 10, or 20, or 50, or 100 pages from your printer’s paper tray. For every type of weapon you want to ban, I want to ban an equally advanced communication technology. No semi-auto rifles in my hands? Fine – then no personal computers in yours.
Logical, isn’t it? It also shows the absolute stupidity of trying to restrict ‘rights’ with artificial boundaries. Either a right is a right, or it isn’t. If it’s not a right, it’s a privilege, which can be restricted or withdrawn – and there’s no such thing as a ‘Bill Of Privileges’ in the United States Constitution.
Peter is right, and so is Jazz. The clamor immediately after Tucson, once the anti-rhetoric hoopla died down, was over the 30-round magazine the shooter carried, and how no one really needs that many rounds at once. That’s a pretty common response after incidents like this: a proposed restriction of one kind or another because no one needs that many bullets, or a gun that shoots that fast, or is that small, or costs so little. It’s usually combined with comments about how the Founding Fathers couldn’t have possibly imagined something like an AK-47 or a Glock 19 when they wrote the Second Amendment. But that’s the beauty of the document they wrote. The language is flexible enough to include things like that with interpretation. After all, the Founding Fathers couldn’t have imagined something like a personal computer or the Internet, right? So the First Amendment protections shouldn’t be all-inclusive, right?
The argument about yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is about conduct. The Second Amendment equivalent is already covered under assault laws. The discussion about magazine capacity or gun features like pistol grips is one of mechanics and cosmetics. The First Amendment equivalent is not yelling “Fire!” but rather printer or internet connection speed, or type of paper used. Until we compare apples to apples, nothing substantial or useful will be accomplished.