Free speech, gun rights on collision course in United States, some legal experts say

Free speech, gun rights on collision course in United States, some legal experts say

(Reuters) – The robust American traditions of free speech and gun rights are clashing at anti-racism protests this year in a way rarely seen before in the United States, legal scholars and law enforcement leaders say. FILE PHOTO: Men carry rifles as people protest outside the Kenosha County Courthouse after a Black man, identified as Jacob Blake, was shot several times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S. Picture taken August 25, 2020.REUTERS/Stephen Maturen The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees citizens the right to free speech, and the Second the right to bear arms. But they are colliding in new ways, as “open carry” of guns to demonstrations becomes more common, officials at six police departments along with six legal scholars said. Some worry that U.S. democracy will suffer if guns intimidate would-be protesters from voicing their opinion. The gun culture and the exercise of free speech and assembly are “all competing in the same space,” said Timothy Zick, a law professor at the College of William & Mary who studies armed protests. Mostly peaceful mass protests in several U.S. cities for racial equality following the May 25 death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis, Minnesota police are sometimes being met by people with weapons. On Aug. 25, the issue came to a head when Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, used a rifle to kill demonstrators Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His lawyers say he acted […]

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