We can’t yell the word “fire!” in a crowded theater. The First Amendment won’t protect us. Why? Clear and present danger. Almost 100 years ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shenck v. United States, 249 US 47 (1919):
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. . .The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.
Firing Assault Weapons in a Crowded Theater
The NRA lobby, however, has made it possible for someone to fire assault weapons in a crowded theater. The NRA lobby made it possible for someone to fly under the radar as he amassed an arsenal of weapons, explosives, body armor, and tear gas. The NRA lobby made it possible for this person to enter a crowded theater, slaughter 12 people, and wound 59 people. The NRA lobby arrogantly refuses to be held accountable for this carnage.
Clearly, this caused a panic. It presented a clear and present danger to the 300 people in the theater. It brought about a substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent. It is most definitely a question of proximity and degree.
Yet, James Eagan Holmes’ right to bear those assault weapons is protected by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.
In what alternate universe is uttering the word “fire!” a more clear and present danger than a nut job firing assault weapons?
Substantive Evils that Congress Has a Right to Prevent
New York City Michael R. Bloomberg is a rare politician with the balls to take on the NRA. He was on CBS’ Face the Nation this morning criticizing both President Obama and Mitt Romney for their failure to call for gun control legislation in the wake of the shooting rampage in Aurora, CO on Friday. I agree. It is time for all of us to take on the impotent bullies in the NRA who will stomp on everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if it dares to infringe on their paranoid need for an arsenal of guns and ammunition.
The NRA blasted me for my post on Friday. I noticed that few of these bullies had the strength of character to use their own names. One guy voraciously quotes Scripture on his Facebook page while he brazenly advocates the evil violation of the Sixth Commandment (thou shalt not kill) elsewhere. A bankruptcy attorney, who appears to be single (wonder why), posted 11 rants. I think they thought that their idiotic propaganda would intimidate me into silence. Instead, I was glad I wasn’t married to any of these insensitive, narcissistic, paranoid jerks.
Today’s post is most definitely aimed <pun intended> at the gun nuts in the NRA. I’m also taking aim at all the spineless politicians who have abdicated their duty to prevent these substantive evils for far too long. Listen up. Women Vote. We boycotted until boviating Rush Limbaugh shut the hell up. This was before Eve Ensler launched One Billion Rising.
Bravo, Rep. Ed Perlmutter!
On Face the Nation this morning, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said he would introduce legislation to protect his constituents in Aurora:
Should we reinstate the assault weapons ban? I think we should, and I think that’s where it starts.
We ought to be taking a look at how this guy [James Eagan Holmes] was able to accumulate so much ammunition. He had enough ammunition for, like, a small army. There’s something wrong about that.
I can’t fathom how the assassin was able to have so many boxes of ammunition, explosives, and body armor shipped to his home and lab without at least one person questioning what the hell was going on. Red flags ought to go off somewhere when someone purchases four guns in such a short period of time. Where the hell was Homeland Security in detecting this likely terrorist? And, what about the brainiacs at his lab? They didn’t see anything unusual with all those packages?