Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Revenge of the Originalism Prize

I never thought that when I began handing out the Originalism Prize, people would begin to vie for it so passionately. I think we're going to have to come up with a cutesy name for it. How about "The Originally?"

Anyway, this week's top competitor for the prize is Geoffrey Stone, who has written a column at Huffington Post to assist us in Understanding the Second Amendment. Ho-hum, it has something to do with how even the freedom of speech has reasonable restrictions, and so thus too does the freedom to own guns. As he finishes:
It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting "The Second Amendment!!" as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there.

And that is only the beginning of what the Second Amendment does not guarantee.
Are you threatening me, Master Jedi? Well, in truth, we can easily stipulate Stone's argument. Yes, the Second Amendment does not guarantee you the right to carry your gun into a movie theater. A theater is private property! They're free to ban any and all firearms from coming onto their premises.

More importantly, the whole comparison between owning guns and falsely yelling fire has always confused me. Falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater is almost certainly going to bring harm to people; someone will either get trampled in a human stampede, or he will suffer anxiety and emotional anguish from the fear of dying in a fire.

In contrast, simply owning a gun harms nobody. Using a gun to kill people harms them, and perhaps such a possibility merits draconian gun restrictions----but it's still nonsensical to compare static, non-active gun ownership to false, life-endagering speech in a crowded theater. Then again, Stone is probably the type of fellow who thinks the Second Amendment protects only the right to own a Brown Bess and a starter pistol, so perhaps he'd disagree.

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