an editor at Guns & Ammo of all places,Â argued in an editorial for the fairly obvious (well, at least to most people) claim that even constitutionally guaranteed rights–such the rights to freedom of religion and to a well-regulated militia–ought to be, er, regulated some (but not very much). Not every instance of speech is allowed; to use the author’s example, you cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater.
Metcalf’s argument didn’t sit well with the Guns&Ammo crowd. Â You can view selected responses here. Â It would be charitable to nut pick them. Â Why bother anyway, in response to their many reasonable interventions, Guns & Ammo fired Dick Metcalf.
Not surprising that a bunch of gun fanatics would turn to the ad baculum.
5 thoughts on “Guns & Ammo”
I hate the example of falsely yelling fire in a theater. Yes it is a famous quote from Schenck v United States that ruled against Schenck unanimously. But that ruling was later overturned.
Everyone runs around using this as an obvious example of the reasonable limitations of free speech but as far as I know it is indeed legal to falsely yell this in a crowded theater. I am not a lawyer but my understanding of the law is that so long as the speech doesn’t incite illegal activity (and people fleeing a theater they assuming is on fire isn’t currently illegal) then the speech is protected.
How this stuff gets into the public mind and then is used to justify abridging free speech is beyond me.
The idea is that not all instances of speech are protected. Not all instances of religion are protected. It’s fairly obvious then that not all instances of gun ownership are protected. Which ones? Well, that is the question.
Fleeing a theater you believe is on fire is not “illegal activity” even if you are mistaken.
Speech can be regulated by reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, provided the restriction is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest and does not discriminate based on viewpoint.
I think screaming fire in a crowded theater would fall under laws regulating malicious deception. I don’t know what the charge would specifically be, but I am fairly certain it would be illegal to encourage someone to eat a poisonous mushroom by telling them it was safe to eat, when you knew it wasn’t.
Nonetheless, neither action would “incite illegal activity”.
Comments are closed.