In a column In the Tampa Bay Times, a writer makes the claim that a law to protect the Second Amendment diminishes the First Amendment. It is a stretch. The statute, passed by the Florida legislature in 2011, makes it illegal for local governments to pass regulations and ordinances dealing with guns, gun possession, anything to do with guns. The law was passed because politicians in large urban centers persistently ignored the previous preemption law. Local ordinances and regulations created a patchwork of firearms law to entrap any Floridians who exercised their Second Amendment rights.
The columnist referred to a St. Petersburg Councilwoman, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, who wanted to pass a resolution supporting a special legislative session dealing with restricting Second Amendment Rights. She was told that such a resolution, because it dealt with guns, might be illegal. It might subject her to fines or a lawsuit. It probably would not, but there was a remote possibility.
The preemption statute did not interfere with her First Amendment rights at all. It hindered her power to pass a resolution, to take official action as member of a governmental body. The First Amendment does not protect governments. It protects people. She can talk about the Second Amendment all she wishes. Governments have powers. People have rights. From tampabay.com:
When City Attorney Jacqueline Kovilaritch alerted Wheeler-Bowman to the potential ramifications of passing even a non-binding resolution related to firearms, she said she decided to pull the discussion from today's agenda.Passing resolutions about guns may or may not be covered under the preemption law. If politicians want to talk about guns, they can talk about guns all they want. Using their governmental power to legislate about guns has been placed out of bounds by the Florida legislature, and for good reason.
This isn't the first time common sense has been stifled by this NRA-supported law. This was the same law that cops around the state once said left them powerless to shut down backyard gun ranges.
Our government is meant to be limited in its power. That is what checks and balances are all about. Local governments are not supposed to infringe on Constitutionally protected rights. It is reasonable and responsible for state governments to protect those rights.
When I tuned into the St. Petersburg City Council, there was a woman reading a statement calling for more restrictions on Second Amendment rights. Her First Amendment rights did not seem impaired at all. "Progressives" deliberately confuse individual rights with government powers. Limiting government power does not limit individual rights.
Governments are frequently attacking the First Amendment rights of Second Amendment supporters. California forbids gunshops to display a picture of a handgun outside of the shop. In several cities, Second Amendment supporters have had to sue city governments to allow advertising for firearms on city venues. Alan Korwin recently won one of these lawsuits in Phoenix. Local government representative and anti-Second Amendment activists applied political pressure to force an airport to take down an advertisement for guns in Columbia, SC.
In Texas, three anti-Second Amendment professors claimed that exercising Second Amendment rights (even while concealed!) inhibited their First Amendment rights. Having First Amendment rights does not mean that you can infringe on others rights because you suffer from a phobia. If someone is afraid of crowds, they may refrain from speaking in front of one. The people in the crowd's right to assembly is not restricting their First Amendment right. The person's own phobia is.
Limiting government power is designed to protect individual rights. Limiting the power of local governments to infringe on the Second Amendment does not limit the First Amendment right of any individual.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.