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Thursday, December 27,2012

Repeal the Second Amendment? How about the First?

By Paul Danish

Editor's Note: The original version of this article misspelled Andrew O'Connor's name.

Even before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were calls for getting rid of the Second Amendment, like the letter to the editor from Andrew J. O’Connor in the Boulder Camera a couple weeks ago.

O’Connor didn’t raise any new arguments for repealing the Second Amendment — he thinks it’s a dangerous anachronism — but he at least deserves points for candor. Outright repeal of the Second Amendment has always been the ultimate objective of the gun control movement.

Repeal the Second Amendment, huh?

Why stop there?

While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the Amendment that is the real source of violence in the United States.

The First Amendment.

The First Amendment is shot through with so-called “freedoms” whose irresponsible use causes violence, injury and death on a scale that eclipses anything brought about by the Second Amendment.

Start with freedom of the press. Newspapers and TV news operations are directly complicit in massacres like the one at Sandy Hook. Their complicity flows from the massive, unrelenting, hyperventilating, voyeuristic coverage they give such stories. The coverage goes on and on and on — and serves as the incubus that gives rise to dozens of equally deranged copycat assassins.

Remember Columbine? The Denver papers and much of the national media didn’t just cover the story; they wallowed in it. A year after the massacre they were still running front-page stories about it — which collectively served to turn Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the delusional little twerps who perpetrated the crime, into larger-than-life role models for latter-day delusional little twerps like James Holmes and Adam Lunza.

The way to prevent, or at least reduce, this self-perpetuating, evergrowing wave of mass murder is obvious: Censor the papers and the electronic media and don’t let them give massacre stories the Columbine/ Aurora/Sandy Hook treatment.

If you call the mainstream media on this sort of conduct, they will tell you that “they are only doing their job,” start mouthing pious bullshit about “the people’s right to know” and the sanctity of the First Amendment. Yeah, sure. Tell that to the grieving parents after the next school or church or multiplex strafing.

Of course, the mainstream media’s charming habit of producing infomercials for mass murder is hardly the only way the First Amendment causes violence, nor even the most important. In fact, in the larger scheme of things it is relatively minor.

The First Amendment protects hate speech.

Ever hear of a book called Mein Kampf? If you own a Kindle, you can buy it on Amazon for the princely sum of $0.99. Ditto The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. That’s the one that accuses the Jews of ritually killing Christian children and using their blood to bake their Passover Matzos.

These texts enabled World War II and the Holocaust, and they are still readily available; they can be had for a single click. It is easier to get them than, what’s the analogy we’re looking for here, ah, yes: It’s easier to get them than pulling the trigger on a gun. Thanks to the First Amendment.

There are thousands of neo-Nazi, neo-Communist, neo-Syndicalist, neo-Nihilist, neo-Anarchist and latter-day lunatic websites pumping out similar venom for contemplation by malleable young minds like Adam Lunza’s.

And the publishers and the webmasters glibly reply: “Freedom of the press, baby. Ever hear of the First Amendment?”

And let’s not forget the entertainment side of the media.

American popular entertainment is not merely shot through with the glorification of violence; it is defined by the glorification of violence. It has been that way for more than a century.

One hundred years ago, parents anguished over pulp fiction. Then came violent movies, violent radio shows, violent comic books and violent television. And today it’s computer gaming, the maraschino cherry on the poison sundae.

Hey, you don’t suppose all that “entertainment” helps shape the world view of weird little kids like Adam Lunza or James Holmes or Jared Loughner, do you? Nah, of course not. It’s just good, clean fun. Those kids are perfectly harmless until they get their hands on a gun.

Well, where do you think they got their ideas about what you ought to do with a gun? From the NRA, which spends millions on teaching gun safety, or from liberals in the entertainment industry?

Speaking of violence caused by the First Amendment, let’s not forget speaking. No, not public oratory, which has produced more than its fair share of riots and lynchings. I am thinking of the casual utterances of ordinary people.

How many bar fights are preceded by bar arguments that spin out of control? How many cases of domestic violence are preceded by domestic arguments? How much racism, sexism and homophobia, starts with hate speech?

Almost all of it, and what’s more, everyone knows it.

Want to stop all that shit? Repeal the First Amendment, which will allow society to intervene before the words turn into the crime.

Defenders of the First Amendment would probably argue that there’s a big difference between words and bullets — and they would be right. Words are much more dangerous.

The aphorism we all learn in kindergarten — sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me — is a lie.

Words cause actions. That’s why we speak them. Words are more dangerous than guns, because words are what cause the guns to speak.

So is there any argument that can be made for not repealing the Dangerous Amendments?

I can think of one.

Like the Second Amendment, and most other Amendments in the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment is in the Constitution because it protects individual freedoms.

Freedoms empower people, and like most things that empower people, freedoms are inherently dangerous.

Words, and guns, are both protected by the Constitution, not despite the fact that they are dangerous, but because they are dangerous. The fact that they are dangerous is what makes them powerful and empowering — and what makes the people who have access to them free.

Progressives who want to repeal or emasculate the Second Amendment in the hope of obtaining a few small scraps of safety should think long and hard about what they are wishing for, because repealing or modifying the Second Amendment lays the ideological foundation for doing the same thing to the far more empowering, and far more dangerous, First Amendment.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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Nicely put Mr. Danish.


How about killing all those amendments, and make a new one for our next generation. I think that is what is called modernization isn’t it? Well that is what I am going to do Medical billing and coding companies in the coming years.


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How many cases of violence are caused by people calling troubled kids "little twerps" until they explode? I haven't heard of anyone asking for the right to bear arms to be eradicated, but change to gun laws in America is clearly necessary when certain states, such as Maine, don't even require registration or permits. "A few small scraps of safety" go a long way, and better a few small scraps of safety are added than none. 


So some states don't require permits or registration....and that effects you how? I live right across the border of Vermont. They require no permit to carry concealed...yet their crime rate is insanely low. It is because of this right to carry that the crime rate is low...no criminals want to get shot. I personally feel much safer around gun owners than in places where guns are restricted. Your dislike for something does not give you the right to infringe upon the rights of others.....


That's a poor argument, Ryan, as I'm not for safer gun regulations because I "don't like guns." I also don't like goat milk, and I'm not trying to ban that either. What most Americans want is for every gun to be registered, and every gun owner to be required to get a permit by proving he or she is mentally fit to own a gun and able to use it safely. That's not a lot to ask, nor is it a lot to ask for the reinstatement of a law banning private sale and use of weapons whose only use is mass murder. And don't hit me with the "you can also mass murder with a baseball bat or knife," because those things have other uses. I've never hit a single or made a sandwich with an assault rifle.


Why should I have to register it? Why do I even need to register a car for that matter? It's really no ones business what I or anyone else owns. It's pointless. Registering a weapon doesn' t make it incapable of firing if it winds up stolen. Registration makes ir easier for a corrupt government to confiscate things. Those other items we' redesigned for other uses but their lethality when misused is still high. Same with a firearm. The vast majority of people will never encounter violence via guns. However, why should they be denied the right to defend themselves?


again, I did not say anyone who is mentally fit to own a gun and proves he or she knows how to use it safely should be denied the right to defend themselves. but assault weapons should not be available to the public, as they can only be used for mass murder. just like we need to prove we can safely drive a car before getting a license, and are not allowed to then buy a tank and drive it to work, we should have to register all firearms, and prove we know how to safely use them, and should not be allowed to own assault weapons. unless the zombies rise from the dead, or we're soldiers in a warzone.



Mr. Danesh:

If you are going to refer to me and my Letter to Editor published in the Daily Camera  then at least spell my name correctly as it is O'Connor not O'Conner. Stop trying to turn this Irish Catholic into a Protestant. Your attempted analogy between the 2nd Amedment and the 1st Amendment fails and is inane. Because I advocate repealing the 2nd Amendment in order to faciltate reasonable and rational gun control in the wake of the slaughter of innocent children in Conneticut does not mean that I am against freedom of speech. The 1st Amendment and 2nd amemdment are completely unrelated-the 1st Amendment is really about freedom of the press whilst the 2nd Amendment is about a well regulated militia in the America of 1791. Gun ownership is a lethal hobby that we as a civilized society can longer support. The safety of our children and fellow citizens clearly outweighs the danger of unfetherred access and freedom to buy mass produced semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and andguns. The safety of the collective and society is more important than capitualting to the marketing branch of the gun lobby or NRA.





So, the 1st amendment transcends time, but the 2nd amendment only is relevant for the late 18th century? I always love the argument that the founders didn't envision semi-automatic rifles when they drafted the amendment. Funny, they didn't envision the internet, radio or television when they drafted the 1st. So, in reality it only applies to the spoken word, manually operated printed presses and the quill pen. Children die en masse from all kinds of things, be they car accidents (or busses) and it's a fact of life. The number of deaths caused by guns is very very small compared to the number of people who live in the US. If you want to impose gun control, impose it upon governments....they have the deaths of millions on their hands. But you're happy with the idea of government having a monopoly on violence I'm sure.


I agree that the 2nd Amendment must be protected. But from there on I doubt I have much in common with Mr. Danish.  I believe that an armed citizenry is an effective method to check tyrannical government like we have now.  However the government so massively outguns and out-spies citizens that the 2nd Amendment has become meaningless for its intended purpose. 
To make it meaningful again, Americans should demand that the US government and the Military Industrial Complex that controls it (along with the other criminal cartels such as the “Federal Reserve”) give up all weapons more powerful than a hunting rifle. 
To the liberals, I challenge your unexamined belief that anyone, any country or any organization needs weapons more powerful than a hunting rifle.  Many of you think that it’s okay for Obama to kill “terrorists” with drone strikes because you trust Obama.  That is some dumbass excuse for thinking.  Drones are coming here next.  Maybe you better not attend that political protest.  Just make yourself smaller and more agreeable and more cowed and everything will be just fine right?

To those who think the illegal US Imperial Wars for resources are a good thing, I remind you that what we do abroad to the little brown peoples of the world, we eventually do here too.  When you get rounded up and put into FEMA camps, maybe you’ll see what I mean.  Your little gun collection isn’t going to do shit to protect you from that. In fact at this point if you’re a registered gun owner, you’ve just made the list of who to round up first.
For once the war-mongering, self-righteous and massively misinformed Americans should lead the way to something positive – demand that our government disarm itself at the same time that the rest of the world disarms.  It is completely doable and is the only sane thing to do.  Start with getting rid of nuclear weapons.  That includes not just Russia, but Israel too.  Ultimately we’ll get down to no weapon on earth more dangerous than a hunting rifle.  That is a goal worth working towards.  Imagine how much extra money everyone will have to spend on good things (healthcare, education, renewable energy, research) when we eliminate the war racket that is used to enslave us and keep us afraid of our own shadows. 
Americans think they’re so brave but the vast majority are quite cowardly.  If you think we need the mightiest armed forces on earth, it’s because you’re afraid.  What are you afraid of?  The lies that MIC sells to you, like 9/11?  Remember that the mightiest army on earth was unable to stop 9/11.  Gee could it be that certain neo-cons and Zionists wanted 9/11 to happen and maybe that’s why it “succeeded”?   How is it that the Patriot Act was written so quickly in the wake of 9/11?  It wasn’t.  It was just pulled off the shelf, all ready to go.  http://web.archive.org/web/20030423013539/http://www.truthout.com/docs_02/05.21B.jvb.usapa.911.p.htm
And finally if you think this is crazy, go to that fount of extreme Conspiracy Theory known as PBS to watch “9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out” http://video.cpt12.org/video/2270078138/


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