Tag: Bill of Rights

Constitutional Carry: Defense Against Tyranny and Crime

Tom DiGennaro | United States

South Dakota is now the 14th U.S. state to enact constitutional carry into state law. Governor Kristi Noem signed the bill, introduced by the Republican-controlled State Legislature, into law. Therefore, constitutional carry is the law of the land in South Dakota, effective July 1st.

Constitutional carry, also known as permitless carry, allows full civilian concealed carry. It is a derivative of the Second Amendment; “The right of the people to keep and bear (carry) arms, shall not be infringed”.

Full List of Constitutional Carry States

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

In some states, constitutional carry applies to open carry, some concealed carry, and other both.

The Constitutional Argument

If you need to ask permission to exercise a right, then it is not a right. Rather, it is a privilege, and the Second Amendment is not on the Bill of Privileges.

Government involvement in the process of firearm ownership, as well as carry, essentially defeats the purpose of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment’s protections extend further than just personal self-defense. Rather, the Second Amendment’s purpose ensures that a citizenry has accessed the proper means to form a militia. The militia is necessary to defend a nation from oppressors. Foreign invaders, as well as domestic tyrants. Anyone who swears into office affirms they will defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Obviously, the government controlling the right to bear arms that exists for defense against the very same government is illogical.

Therefore, the only feasible way the Second Amendment can serve its purpose is to eliminate government-issued carry permits or licenses. Imagine one needs a background check, a waiting period, a fee, and a license to publish a news article. It is wrong for the government to suppress ownership and carry of firearms. The same way it is also wrong for the government to suppress speech. Ironically enough, the former protects the latter.

The Benefits

Aside from constitutional purposes, constitutional carry obviously makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry and defend themselves.

Accessibility Regardless of Income

This applies especially to those with lower incomes. Carry permit fees can be as low as $10 but can also range between $100-200. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult to find 200 bucks to shell out. Obtaining a carry permit also requires a business day trip to the licensing agency. Some states will also mandate a training course. Not everyone can afford to take time off work either.

General Public Safety

It may be hard to convince fear-mongering gun grabbers of such, but making guns more accessible to the public correlates with safety. Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire and Idaho report the first, second, third, and fifth lowest crime rates in the country, respectively. They also have constitutional carry laws.

At the end of the day, there is no amount of legislation possible that will eliminate violence. Those who wish to commit crimes with firearms will be able to obtain them, whether they are legal or not. They will carry them, whether it is legal or not. The vast majority of people who walk into gun stores and purchase a firearm do not commit a crime with that firearm.

Deterring Crime

An armed population is a deterrent to crime. A criminal is extremely less likely to rob or assault someone they know is armed. The same thing happens when they are unsure that they are unarmed. Armed citizens are a poor choice of prey.

The Future of Constitutional Carry

A variety of other state legislatures are working to push constitutional carry through. Ultimately, constitutional carry is vital to the preservation of a free nation, common public safety, resistance to tyranny. One can only dream one day the Second Amendment is all the paperwork necessary to carry, in all 50 states.

Gun Owner’s Of America has “take action” links to contact your representatives in the state legislature to push for constitutional carry in Idaho, Virginia, and Texas.


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George Mason: The Forgotten Founding Father

Kevin D’Amato | United States

Since the founding of the United States, there has been a strong veneration associated with the founding fathers, the group men who convened to write, discuss and sign documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I would say the praise is largely justifiable; the founding fathers played a key role in creating the modern western state. Their genius stemmed from their impeccable knowledge of history and rigorous study of philosophy. Influences for this new, great experiment ranged throughout thousands of years and included:

  • The Roman Republic
  • The Magna Carta
  • Social Contract Theory
  • John Locke’s Natural Rights Theory

With that being said, common knowledge surrounding the early years of our country is rudimentary. Children are brought up idolizing founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. However, most simply do not know a majority of those influential men in “The Room Where it Happened”. While I don’t discount the importance of well-known founders, I believe there is something missing in the education of the average student. I wish to take you on a journey through time to learn about the forgotten icons who deserve your attention.

Who is George Mason?

George Mason IV was born as a farm boy in modern Fairfax County, Virginia on December 11th, 1725 to father George Mason III and mother Ann Stevens Thomson. At the age of 10, George Mason’s father died. From then on, his mother and uncle, John Mercer, raised him. Mason thus gained exposure to Mercer’s large library, which had a large impact on his curiosity and intellect.

From an early age, Mason had an interest in public life. He served as a vestryman for his parish and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Beyond this, Mason was forming his life alongside his wife Ann Eilbeck (with whom he would have 12 children with). At his home, Gunston Hall, he grew crops such as tobacco and wheat.

As tensions between Great Britain and the colonies began to form, Mason became a leader of the Virginia Patriots and eventually wrote the Virginia Constitution in 1776. George Mason ending up being a Representative for Virginia for the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

On October 7, 1792, after struggling with illness all his life, George Mason IV passed away at the age of 66. He had long lived with gout, but historians believe he died of additional ailments following a chest cold.

Founder or Framer?

At this point, you may be asking an important question. If George Mason attended the Constitutional Convention, why do so many people not know him?

The answer lies in what occurred at the convention itself.

Out of the 55 delegates in attendance, ultimately only 39 signed the Constitution; George Mason did not.

While writing Virginia’s Constitution (1776), George Mason made a point of expressing individuals rights up front and keeping government as localized as possible. This model was used by many other states, but not exemplified to Mason’s wishes in the U.S. Constitution. Along with his gripes over government power, Mason vehemently opposed continuing the Atlantic Slave Trade, calling it “disgraceful to mankind”, despite owning slaves himself.

These grievances began to add up and hold Mason from signing the final version of the Constitution. Because of that decision, he will forever be known as a framer, not a founder.

The Significance of George Mason

George Mason’s principled stances for what he believed in makes him one of the most important figures in American history.

First, his argument against slavery was ahead of its time. To have the courage to speak out against slavery as a beneficiary is bold. If the Constitution had abolished slavery, George Mason would only lose wealth, yet he argued for it.

Second, without his stand against the original Constitution, we may have never gotten the Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments covered a majority of Mason’s problems with the original document. We live in a better country because of them.

Third, Mason’s statements in regards to the Bill of Rights, specifically the 2nd Amendment, provide a strong backbone to the argument behind the preservation of the document. Mason repeatedly talked about the importance of these rights for all Americans.

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.

George Mason’s Legacy

Although he does not receive the credit that he deserves, George Mason lives on in one major way. Near his home in Fairfax, Virginia is George Mason University, the largest public research institution in the state.

With the announcement of Amazon’s new headquarters location in Northern Virginia, the school shows no signs to stop its rapid growth. The school’s success definitely does justice to its namesake.

Even though traditional schools won’t give Mason his share of respect, it won’t prevent the intellectual world from continuing to discuss him. By remembering that education truly never ends, we are reminded that the possibility of knowledge is limitless.


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The American First Amendment: A Poem

Nate Galt | United States

Many misguided young boys think they fight for freedom

But when barked commands to kill people, they heed them

When in the fields, men back home for little money toil

Believing that their liberties are defended, not America’s interests in oil

If bombing those an ocean away brings peace

That is an oxymoron, to say the least

But back home, those liberties for which soldiers believe they fight

Are being stripped by people who don’t care for rights

Only for their fragile sense of self

They wish to ban everything that they can’t help

They want their free-of-judgement safe spaces

By banning unpopular opinions from those same places

When real progressives would die for your right to speech

For whatever one wished to say or preach

Meanwhile, these supposed freedom fighters demand

That those who they disagree with get off their land

But the very law of the land, the Constitution,

Is being up-heaved in a revolution

To stop any speech or proselytization 

Which they deem a danger to this nation

But what is a danger? A mere opinion or thought?

Censorship is an insult to those that fought

Not in Vietnam or Iraq, but to those who said that they see

A possibility for a new country with free speech and liberty.


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How Noah Berlatsky and CNN Got Free Speech Wrong

Francis Folz | United States

In a recent CNN opinion piece, author Noah Berlatsky contended that “protecting Nazi speech doesn’t protect free speech” and concluded that a Nazi salute by a group of teenagers endangers the speech and lives of all non-Nazis. Although I credit Mr. Berlatsky for his laudable zeal and well-expressed opinion, his article is laced with multiple fallacies regarding free speech that must be confronted.

Firstly, our Bill of (Human) Rights are not, and should remain, non-negotiable, and that includes the first, second, and fourth amendments. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the belief that safeguarding controversial speech, which inadvertently protects less contentious or innocuous speech, to free speech ‘purists’.

Need I remind anyone it was less than 54 years ago that countless Civil Rights demonstrators were savagely attacked for merely utilizing their freedom of speech, expression, and assembly by law enforcement and firefighters on their solemn march to Montgomery from Selma.

It is for similar reasons that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from his Birmingham jail cell, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” I wonder if Mr. Berlatsky disagrees.

Mr. Berlatsky proceeds, “Defending the speech of white kids doesn’t necessarily protect… marginalized people.”

To some extent, he’s right. Defending those kids doesn’t necessarily guarantee everybody’s speech of every demographic is going to be protected every time in the future. However, it does set a precedent favoring free speech compared to censorship, which should be a commonly held interest.

Mr. Berlatsky’s most startling, misguided premise about freedom of expression is whenever he discusses “giving free speech to fascists” and how organizations and judges need to balance ambiguous ‘interests’. Mr. Berlatsky blatantly misunderstands that our rights are not given to each other by society, rather they are innate, endowed to us by our Creator.

We don’t ‘give’ each other the human right to privacy, just like we don’t ‘give’ each other the 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship. All of our rights are intrinsic to our humanity, inseparable from our existence, and deserving of our unwavering defense.

At some point in his article, I questioned if Mr. Berlatsky is aware of the equal protection clause since his attempts to justify censorship tend to fall apart when applied to groups outside of fascists. In regards to the Charlottesville rally in 2017, Berlatsky suggests that since white supremacists used their freedom to ‘terrorize’ people and one individual killed one person and injured nearly 20 others, that is cause to deny every individual within the group their human rights.

Using Mr. Berlatsky’s logic, shouldn’t all members of Antifa have their constitutional rights suspended? After all, when a Hillary Clinton supporter in Portland refused to surrender an American flag to the domestic terrorist group, Antifa members cracked his head open. And that’s only one example of their repeated malice. Shouldn’t their hatred be enough to disband the violent, left-wing faction?

What if you applied Mr. Berlatsky’s logic to religious fanatics instead of ideological extremists? Wouldn’t the tragedy of September 11th be enough to deny every American Muslim the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly because of the actions of 19 men?

After all, haven’t Islamic extremists terrorized multiple nations and killed thousands of people throughout the globe in the last two decades? Any reasonable person would not punish a group of people for the actions of its individual members but would advocate for equal protection under the law, foils to Mr. Berlatsky’s arguments.

Next, Mr. Berlatsky makes the case that the Wisconsin school district should’ve reprimanded the students for their inappropriate picture that appears to show them performing a Nazi salute, despite being off-campus and unaffiliated with the school district at the time of the photo. In an attempt to buttress his argument, Mr. Berlatsky reports that a school suspended 20 students for a tweet that falsely accused a female teacher of flirting with students, justifying the suppression of expression.

The problem is that the Salem students were guilty of libel and accused a staff member of coquetting with her pupils, a criminal offense. The only crime the Wisconsin teens committed was taking a reprehensible picture, making the situation incomparable.

Mr. Berlatsky’s final argument centers around discipline and race. According to the Government Accountability Office, Black students, in 2014, were 15.5 percent of the U.S. student populace, yet accounted for almost 39% of suspensions. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the disproportion to schools inevitably using their disciplinary authority against ‘marginalized students’ at the expense of others.

However, American schools are extremely localized, meaning parents and administrators have the final say on countless decisions, from electronics to dress codes to disciplinary policies. Regrettably, American schools are nearly as segregated as they were in the 1960s.

So in other words, the black students who are subjected to disproportionate suspensions are largely attending non-white majority schools which choose to chastise their students at a rate that is, apparently, acceptable with school personnel and parents.

Free speech is under siege like never before in American history. I hate bigotry. I detest fascism. However, I appreciate our collective, human right to speech and expression, even if I disapprove of somebody’s opinions and/or actions.

Today, the groups whom people loathe most are nazism and fascism. Nazism, by definition, is national socialism. Socialism is just a few steps away from communism. Communism has left over 100 million people dead in 100 years. What would people think if you could no longer raise your fist in public because of it’s communist insignia?

We are better as a society for the ability to openly express all of our ideas, even ones we don’t concur with, rather than only tribal-mentality approved perspectives, regardless of ideology. If detestable, bigoted opinions are allowed to be expressed in the open, it allows society to weed out the most reprehensible of ideas. It is best we don’t take for granted the ability to communicate freely and openly with each other, as anything less is a form of authoritarianism, oppression, and tyranny.


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There Is No Moral Reason to Prohibit Hate Speech

By Teagan Fair | United States

The First Amendment, naturally, comes first in the Bill of Rights. As such, it is the most important right. It has become an emblem of American society since our founders wrote it into law. Founder and hero George Washington once said the following on free speech:

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

He was absolutely right. He, along with the other founders of this country, and any man or woman that values liberty, knew that there is simply no moral reason to prohibit free speech, even hate speech.

Allow me to ask an interesting hypothetical: If we can limit speech, then where exactly does one draw the line? The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment does not safeguard “advocacy of the use of force” if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and is “likely to incite or produce such action”. So, if you wish to draw the line there, it already exists. This makes sense and is just, as we must take action against serious threats. However, there should be no more limitations on free speech.

Hate Speech is Free Speech

Anything else, including hate speech, is simply one group of people enforcing values onto others. Ultimately, there is nothing that makes one set of values more or less important than others. This strikes a second question: whose values become proper, and whose become hate speech?

Let’s take a blatantly brazen and noxious group as an example: the Nazis. Many people may support a prohibition on the hate speech of Nazis. This is not morally correct. Sure, I hate Nazis as much as the next guy. Almost all can agree that Nazism is an ideology of hatred. However, provided that they are not advocating for direct and violent action, the Consitution still guards their rights.

Though they are morally wrong in intent, it is just as wrong to prohibit them from speaking. This goes for any ideology, on any side of the political spectrum. No matter how politically radical you may be, you have the same rights to free speech as anyone else. As said by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hate speech, without a doubt, is free speech.

Violence and Hate Speech

Many people claim that hate speech is either violent itself or can provoke violence. Yet, hurt feelings do not mean that something is violent. On a moral level, it may be practical and/or moral to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. However, it is truly horrendous to ask the government to steal someone’s money or lock them away for espousing an opinion you do not like. This is no different than the government arresting an innocent man. Using violence itself, the state is enforcing the values of one person onto another. There is no other way to put it: this is a form of oppression, by the government and by fellow citizens. If the speech incites violence, it is another story. But there is a clear difference between a brash insult and a call to violence.

Moreover, it is worth noting that these rights apply universally. Age, gender, race, and creed, among other things, cannot take away free speech. The phrase, “You don’t get free speech until you’re an adult” is fairly common. Surprisingly, many children actually repeat it. This is completely untrue. As I noted previously, in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that the First Amendment does apply to public school students, in a 7-2 majority. This applies to charter schools as well, as they act as public organizations.

The right to free speech is arguably one of the most important ones. Speaking is something that we do every day. To narrow it down, speaking about controversial topics is also quite regular. The government already influences or controls your business, your car, your money, your devices, your weaponry, and countless other rights. If the State controls our right to something as basic as free speech, what kind of society do we live in? Certainly, that would not be one that is civil or desirable.


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