My guess is that I am not the only reader of Adam Langer’s article who was surprised. “Arming the Tribe” (May 2) described the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a group downright shocking in its stand against the ADL, the NRA, and the “powers that be.” Nevertheless, I found that the vitriol couched some reasonable and admirable messages.
Firearm ownership is a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, however, that right has been “interpreted” in support of any number of left or right causes. I suspect that the JPFO has a point when it calls for deregulation of firearm ownership and a cessation of further interpretation.
Shouldn’t the Second Amendment be read like other amendments? For example, the Supreme Court decisions of the 1920s showed that one’s freedom of speech cannot be infringed without “clear and present danger.” There must be reasonable grounds to believe that danger is imminent. Short of that, all Americans may say what they want in public. The fellow on the bar stool next to me maintains the right to say some miserable things about God or the government, while I am free to counter him with praises of the same.
The separation of church and state is another constitutional guarantee that permits unpopular privileges. Any group may legally incorporate as a church and attain tax-exempt status. Consider the white supremacist Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, or the neo-Nazi Cosmotheist Church, or the suicidal Heaven’s Gate. Despite the fact that their stated goals include actively and violently degrading the civil rights and quality of life of certain target groups, namely Jews and African Americans, these groups have the same organizational rights as Fourth Presbyterian or Anshe Sholom Bna’i Israel. Nonetheless, we must not remove the privileges of millions of good-hearted churchgoers (or shul-goers) because of the opinions of some tens of thousands with less popular motivations.
The gun-control movement, however, is producing exactly this type of frightening censorship. The rhetoric of gun control is tantamount to proposing the elimination of certain prayers by honest churchgoers. I wish the antifirearm movement would reorganize as an anticrime movement, and leave the
law-abiding free-speakers, churchgoers, and firearm owners alone.