Column: Our epidemic of violence is spreading

Column: Our epidemic of violence is spreading

Steve Nelson “You don’t have to say, when you’re looking for a permit to speak on a street corner or whatever, that, you know, your speech is particularly important. … So why do you have to show in this case, convince somebody, that you’re entitled to exercise your Second Amendment right?” This rather astonishing question was posed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts during oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The case challenges the constitutionality of a New York law that requires applicants to show “proper cause” when seeking a license to carry a concealed weapon. This conflation of two very different constitutional rights is emblematic of the absurdity of gun rights arguments and the expansive bias of the Roberts Court. In the controversial and damaging Citizens United case, Roberts et al. opined that corporate money in politics is “speech,” essentially distorting the First Amendment beyond recognition. Now, Roberts and the conservative majority appear poised to construe public carry of lethal weapons as an equivalent protected form of expression. A person orating from a street corner soapbox is quite a different thing than an armed man at the same intersection. Equating these two things is intellectual gymnastics of the highest order. I have argued for years that the fierce defense of the “right to bear arms” is really about the right to “use arms.” While the ambiguous language and punctuation of the Second Amendment does not explicitly sanctify the use of weapons, […]

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