Amendment Clash: Free Speech vs. Right to Bear Arms

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Though I wholeheartedly disagree with those who want excessive restrictions placed on the 2nd Amendment, I respect their right to present an argument. I firmly believe that most of these arguments are rooted in irrational appeals to emotion rather than the facts, but that doesn’t mean the debate is closed. I’m secure enough to admit that there are men and women much smarter, wiser, and experienced than I am who happen to support more gun control.

What I don’t support are the tactics we often see from the anti-gun left. These people aren’t content to present an argument. They don’t want a fair and balanced exchange of ideas. They have decided which side of the issue they fall on, and they are determined to force others into believing the same. One such nutjob lives in Minnesota.

Her name is Kimberly Edson, and she doesn’t like the fact that Matthew Halleck carries a gun with him when he brings his daughters to school in Rochester. Though perfectly within his 2nd Amendment rights and strictly within all local and state ordinances, Halleck has raised the ire of Edson. She complained to the police, but they sent her packing. Now she’s using a sign in her yard to call Halleck out in front of the community.

The sign shows a picture of Halleck. It includes a message as well: “This man carries a loaded gun around your children every day.” Talk about presenting a lopsided argument.

The sign has sparked a stalemate. Halleck has the right to carry his gun – he does not step foot on school property – and Edson has the right to post a sign in her yard. Both seemingly fall under the protection of the Constitution. Halleck is said to be considering a libel suit, but it would be a difficult case to make. By all accounts, the sign is true, even if it is intentionally phrased to inspire fear.

Rather than pursue litigation, I think Halleck would be better off allowing Edson her constitutional right to free speech. It represents the perfect opportunity to combat the ignorance Edson and other anti-gun advocates wallow in. This is one area where half the conversation is dominated exclusively by emotion. The more people we have out there fighting emotion with facts, the better chance we have of stamping out anti-gun fervor entirely.

Edson suffers from a common liberal delusion: she believes the presence of “known” guns increases the danger in her community. In defending her sign, she says that she doesn’t want to live in a place where there are guns around schools. But what she fails to realize – what almost every pro gun-control activist fails to realize – is that the guns we see are not the ones we need to worry about. The guns belonging to law-abiding, productive members of the community are not the ones that lead to tragedy. In a best-case-scenario, in fact, they can be the very guns that prevent tragedy. The more we see of high-profile, lawful gun-carrying community members, the faster we can get rid of this anti-gun hysteria that dominates the left.