Archive for Monday, December 28, 1998


December 28, 1998


To the editor:

Take a look at the first two amendments to the Constitution; go ahead, it won't hurt. The first, among other rights, protects freedom of speech. It does so without qualification or explanation of the context in which speech is to be protected. The Second Amendment is strikingly different. It establishes a right to keep and bear arms, but first of all it sets up two qualifications. (1) "A WELL REGULATED MILITIA being necessary to (2) THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Everyone recognizes that even the unqualified right to free speech may be infringed -- no one has the right to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater, or to use "fighting words" to an audience likely to erupt in violence. If an unqualified right like speech (which has a very low body count) may be limited, why can't a qualified right like arms bearing (which has killed thousands) be limited?

The limitations the Constitution seems to suggest are that the arms bearing should be in the context of a WELL REGULATED militia and that the arms bearing protect the SECURITY of the state. Regulations on who can acquire arms, what kinds of arms they can acquire seem to me to be reasonable limitations on the right to keep and bear arms.

They provide some security from the irresponsible use of a deadly instrument. They help provide the ordered liberty that a free society requires. We recognize this when we regulate speech, but the NRA seems to fight against such ordered liberty when guns are at issue. They do this despite the qualifications in the Constitution. Whose interests are they protecting? Do more guns and fewer regulations make you feel more secure?

Phillip Paludan,

3700 Clinton Pkwy.

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