What if the 1st Amendment were treated like the 2nd?

Since the Federal government has a huge regulatory agency charged with the regulation and taxing of a right guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment why not expand it or create a new agency charged with regulation and taxing of the 1st Amendment? It seems entirely in line with those that admit we have an individual right to own firearms but claim that right can be restricted. Those same type of regulations should be considered “reasonable” when applied to the 1st Amendment, right?

Doesn’t having to get a license involving fingerprints and a background check before you can attend church sound like a good idea? Opening a new church would, of course, require a license, an environment impact statement, and noise abatement plans. And no churches could be located within five miles of a school or public park.

You should fill out the equivalent of a 4473 and get a NICS check before you can write a letter to the editor. And of course there would be a government mandated 10 business day waiting period before it could be published.

All the complaints about the lies by the media would all be solved if we just had better government regulation. Reporters and editors of all media types would be required to keep meticulous records in bound books showing they had properly researched each story. The books could be viewed by government inspectors anytime there was a claim of a falsehood in a story. The entire news organization would have all their computers, printing presses, and printed material seized before they even heard the specifics of the “Federal Press Laws Violations” let alone had their day in court.

“Free-Speech Free Zones” would extend for 1000 feet around schools and in our National Parks. Anyone with a pamphlet, newspaper, magazine, voice or music projection device, Bible, or any other religious printed matter or symbols within ready access of an occupant of a vehicle could be charged with a crime.

That’s just a very, very small sample of what would be possible if the analogs of the laws and regulations imposed on the 2nd Amendment were imposed on the 1st Amendment.

Remember what Alan Dershowitz had to say:

Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of safety hazard don’t see the danger of the big picture.  They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.

Alan Dershowitz
Quoted in Dan Gifford
The Conceptual Foundations of Anglo-American Jurisprudence in Religion and Reason
62 TENN. L. REV. 759 (1995)


7 thoughts on “What if the 1st Amendment were treated like the 2nd?

  1. While I hate to just post nothing more than a “rah-rah!” about how much I like this latest post of yours, I have been reading your blog with a certain regularity after stumbling upon it most inadvertently, and this has to be one of your most brilliant displays yet. I couldn’t contain my need vocalize my support for this fantastic example you have produced. It makes me ponder just exactly when Americans gave up their love of Liberty and self-reliance.

    It also saddens me because “We, The People” have already accepted “Free Speech Zones” that amount to little more than concentration camps along the sidelines of relevant space. How effective is an act of protest if it is relegated to the sidelines of the public eye, out of view, out of sight, out of mind? If the Boston Tea Party happened in a “Free Speech Zone” would it have had any effect? No, the Union Jack would still fly over the colonies

    I legitimately fear that those who embrace the extinguishing of the Second Amendment will too readily yield to restrictions upon their First Amendment rights. They have already demonstrated an unwillingness to actively defend their “freedom” and are content to merely accept the illusion thereof. What will they do when it all comes down to the wire? What will you do? What will I do?

    I thank you for keeping my brain churning on a concept that I hold irrevocable, and thanks for presenting to me the term “anti-gun bigot” in a perspective that makes it clear that those who despise our God given right* to bear arms are no better than racists and homophobes.

    *An agnostic can believe in a God given right, and frankly I think atheists deserve equal access to said rights; anything less would be hypocritical, and un-American!

  2. Thank you.

    I was particularly proud of this post too but no one else seems to have paid much attention. There have been lots of people that have made the analogy between high speed printing presses and “high capacity feeding devices”. And if guns were regulated like cars so I thought maybe it wasn’t all that unique. [shrug]

    I originally had planned to just ask “Where is the Federal Bureau of Speech, Religion, and Press (BSRP)?” But I discovered I wanted to show a few examples.

  3. Sometimes we don’t comment because the argument is so tight that there’s nothing more that can be said.

  4. I have sometimes wondered if that’s not the case. There have been lots of times when some discussion will be happening and I’ll say my thing and everyone else just goes silent. I debate with myself over whether it’s “This guy is so crazy I just want to get out of here.” or “Wow! If I say anything now I’ll be even more embarrassed.” But without explicit feedback I have difficulty determining the situation.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  5. Yup; I usually comment because I believe I can either add something or poke a hole in it, or simetimes just vent. In this case I was silent because the original post stands on its own quite well. Therefore;


  6. Also: some of us are also in the habit because a fair number of popular forums discourage posts without “content”.

    From now on, I will say something if I enjoy a post.

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