Attacking the First and Second Amendments at the same time

October 13, 2009

A couple separate recent incidents illustrate the fact that to the forcible citizen disarmament lobby, the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is only one of the freedoms that must be suppressed.  To such people, when faced with concerned citizens who dare to speak out against citizen disarmament, the only option is to go after their First Amendment rights, as well.

First, we have the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), a Pittsburgh area community college.  Back in April, a student, Christine Brashier wanted to start a chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC).  This group, as one may have guessed, advocates permitting defensive handgun  carry on college campuses, thus ending the status, shared by nearly every institution of higher learning in the nation, of mandated victim disarmament.

Stunningly, she was told she could not form such a group at CACC.

A student who wants to form a gun-rights group at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been threatened with disciplinary action for her efforts. Student Christine Brashier has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help after reporting that administrators banned her informational pamphlets, ordered her to destroy all copies of them, and told her that further "academic misconduct" would not be tolerated.

"CCAC has demonstrated a shocking lack of respect for the rights of free speech and free association," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "Across the country, students are increasingly denied the First Amendment right to debate the Second Amendment. At CCAC, this censorship trend has reached a new low."

Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) took up Ms. Brashier’s cause.  No matter what one’s position is on defensive handgun carry on college campuses, we should all agree that students must not be forbidden to debate the issue.  Because of the attention brought by FIRE, to CCAC’s free speech suppression, the school was recently forced to relent, and has rescinded the Orwellian policy it held this spring.

After months of national media attention, a student threatened with punishment for attempting to form a gun-rights group at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is finally allowed to distribute pamphlets about the group on campus. The college has also rescinded its unconstitutional policy demanding "prior written approval" for "personal contact with individuals or groups related to non-sponsored college material or events."

Ms. Brashier, FIRE, and SCCC all deserve kudos for their hard work.

The second incident might be even more unforgivable.  This time, the advocacy group was the Second Amendment Sisters, and the event was an "empty holster" day in Washington D.C.  The response, this time apparently by an officer of the Department of Homeland Security, was a threat far more grave than the prospect of "academic misconduct."

He then said that he would have to ask me to remove my holster and I got the distinct feeling that he intended to confiscate it. When my husband pulled the video camera out of the bag, he changed his tone only slightly and asked me again to remove the holster, this time saying that I needed to "put it away". I asked him why and he told me that it was illegal to have "gun paraphernalia". I told him that I had no guns, no ammunition and no magazines and that the holster was only a piece of leather and not against the law.

That is exactly the kind of attitude an aspiring agent of tyranny hates to encounter.

The DHS officer asked her to [sic] get that camera out of his face, which of course she did not comply with. As time progressed, the officer gradually backed down from demanding to requesting that I remove my holster until he was "advising" me that it was in my best interest to comply. Finally he conceded that he could not make me remove my holster but warned me that if I persisted that I *would* be detained and possibly arrested or shot, that not every LEO was "pro-gun" like he was!

You read that correctly–a woman was threatened with arrest or with being shot, for wearing an empty holster.

Some among those who wish the citizenry to be disarmed would prefer that we not utilize the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment in defense of the rights guaranteed by the Second.  They should draw comfort from the fact that we have not–yet–been forced to do the reverse.

Schools: Community College of Allegheny County Cases: Community College of Allegheny County: Student Denied Right to Start Advocacy Organization