One can support both the Second Amendment and public safety restrictions on guns

I’m a believer in civil liberties. I am grateful I live in a country where the First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, press, and religion.

Throughout U.S. history, the courts have consistently interpreted these civil liberties as freedoms that, while guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, are not absolutes. In a free society, it is necessary to balance individual freedoms with protection against infringements of the rights of others.

For example, we have interpreted freedom of speech not to include the freedom to falsely “shout fire in a crowded theater,” as that would incite pandemonium and threaten public safety. Our freedom of press is balanced with laws against libel and slander, as they can threaten the good name and reputation of our citizens. We rightly restrict the freedom to produce and distribute child pornography, to protect the safety and dignity of children.

While we rightly celebrate and cherish our freedom of religion, we also do not permit someone to endanger public safety (e.g. practice human sacrifice) as part of a sincerely-held religious belief, for self-evident reasons.

In the same vein, it seems reasonable to me that one can equally defend and promote the civil liberties guaranteed in the Second Amendment while balancing them with measures designed to protect public safety. This might include measures to reduce the amount of guns available that are commonly used in school shootings or more aggressive background checks.

The Second Amendment guarantees important civil liberties, just as the First Amendment does, yet in a free society that must balance individual liberty with public safety. Reasonable people can have disagree over where to draw the line, but it seems reasonable to me that one can love and cherish the freedoms guaranteed by both the First and Second Amendments while still accepting reasonable limitations on each in the interest of public safety.

In my view, being pro-Second Amendment does not require someone to also be anti-gun control, just as being pro-First Amendment does not require someone to oppose restrictions on child pornography, libel, slander, inciting public violence, or preventing human sacrifice in the name of religious freedom.

 

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