Can We Put This to Rest, Please?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from an anti-rights activist; “There are ‘Reasonable Restrictions’ on all rights…” as an attempt to convince us that gun restrictions, in and of themselves, are not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s been a lot.  As often as not, the pro-rights advocate falls for it, too.

The main argument the anti uses is the old, “You can’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater” meme as an example of a Reasonable Restriction on a constitutionally protected right (you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, therefore your second amendment rights are null and void.  QED).

Oh please!  Seriously; when has fraud been a candidate for the title “free speech”? 


It is a malicious fraud to yell “Fire!” if there is no fire.

The first amendment does not protect fraud, libel, slander, or incitement to illegal violence as “free speech” any more than the second amendment protects armed robbery and murder as an integral part of the right to keep and bear arms.  It says, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.  It doesn’t say, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms and to threaten, to rob or to kill anyone they wish, shall not be infringed”.

We can readily accept laws against robbery, aggravated assault, and murder without our second amendment rights being threatened in the least.  “Keeping and bearing” arms has nothing to do with committing crimes using said arms.  Keeping and Bearing is absolutely protected, and, well, crime is crime.  Can you say, “Duh”?  Everyone together now;  “Derrrrrr!”

Can we please not, ever, allow the old (says in a snotty tone) “Well, there are plenty of Reasonable Restrictions on other rights, and I don’t see YOU opposing with THOSE” argument to get any traction whatsoever?


5 thoughts on “Can We Put This to Rest, Please?

  1. What they seem to miss is the concept of prior restraint.

    Basically, they are flat out wrong. There are not “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of rights (ther than the ones protected by the Second Amendment), there are consequences assessed for the ABUSE of those rights.

    You’re mouth is not taped shut prior to entering a theater to prevent you from abusing your first amendment rights by maliciously shouting “fire”…there are simply consequences assessed should you choose to do so.

    You are not prevented from speaking or writing freely in order to prevent slander and libel…you are allowed to freely exercise your right to speech, but there are legal remedies should you choose to abuse those rights by slandering or libeling someone.

    That’s the difference.

    Restricting the exercise of a right in a vain attempt to prevent any possibility of it being abused is not “reasonable restriction”, it is “infringement”.

  2. The real thing to focus on (I think, but I’m a nerd so be ware) is how to persuade all of the people not intensely involved with the issue. The antis seems to often be religously anti (their position can’t be changed by any fact) – but what matters is the large pool of people “in the middle”.

    The prior restraint argument is a good one, one worth pushing.

    Another argument to get out to the world can be summed up as “what is reasonable?” – at various times slavery, prohibition of women voting, and child labor, were deemed “reasonable”. Add this to the terrible tendency to misunderstand things like the power and accuracy of guns, and “reasonable” restrictions can very easily turn out to be very very bad ideas.

  3. I think the word you’re shooting for is “libel” not “liable”

  4. The prior restraint angle is very good.

    A “reasonable” is (and I should have put this in the original text) a restriction on violating another person’s rights. Prohibition and all vice laws fail the test, for example, because having and drinking alcohol, in and of itself, does not violate anyone else’s rights. Legislating Wal Mart out of town because you hate them, fails the “reasonable” test because Wal Mart isn’t violating other people’s rights, etc.

    Yes; libel. Thank you.

  5. Reasonable is and ambiguous term used by people to escape from absolutes. Shall not be infringed, is an absolute statement, only those wishing to crawl out from under it’s finality invent reasonable excuses.

    Mankind has a real problem facing absolutes, especially when applied to behavior, or beliefs.

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