Thursday, February 10, 2011

Time for the Right to Learn: the 1st and 2nd Amendments are NOT the Same Thing

We hear a lot from the Tea Party, about how their identity as gun owners is so important, and how they fear Democrats will take away their rights to guns; as a result, we see a lot of gun imagery and gun-themed campaigns in our politics today. People have even shown up at the president's speeches carrying loaded weapons.

While some say there is not much we can do to quell this violent trend in our politics, I disagree. I believe the violence we are experiencing today is a result of a dangerous equating of 2nd Amendment rights to 1st Amendment rights.

This misunderstanding of our constitutional rights is pushed by politicians in the Tea Party, and the folks that follow them.

So to all you people who believe you right to bear arms is somehow the same as political freedom, I'm hear to tell you its not: the people who were massacred in Arizona were exercising their *1st* Amendment rights of "peaceful assembly."

The Constituti­on treats your right to express yourself and air your grievances *very* differentl­y than your right to bear arms. The Constituti­on specifical­ly states that political expression and airing of grievances must be "peaceful.­"

Even when referring to the people's right to replace the government­, the Constitution refers to your right to "petition" a.k.a. your right to VOTE, not your right to armed insurrecti­on.

So all this talk about your freedom to express your gun-loving self needs to be put in context of the Constituti­on: you have a right to own firearms, but you have no right to bring those arms to political events - such actions are chilling to free speech, and act as an intimidati­on toward those who would disagree with you.

There is no place for the language of gun play, and the use of violent imagery, or the brandishin­g of weapons in our politics. I urge my fellow democrats to encourage, and to support an effort to ban guns from political events.

I am willing to bet the Supreme Court will eventually rule on such a separation­. Owning a gun has nothing to do with free speech, and our Constitution says so.

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