1997-06-15 - Re: Do reporters have special rights the rest of us don’t have?

Header Data

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 3b1ed078466fd6a335dd23b8c825d5916be2a6e5c2800f0a09fed10b5646f069
Message ID: <19970614230152.15019@bywater.songbird.com>
Reply To: <19970613201551.40314@bywater.songbird.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-15 06:15:17 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 14:15:17 +0800

Raw message

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 14:15:17 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Do reporters have special rights the rest of us don't have?
In-Reply-To: <19970613201551.40314@bywater.songbird.com>
Message-ID: <19970614230152.15019@bywater.songbird.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Sat, Jun 14, 1997 at 09:52:39AM -0500, William H. Geiger III wrote:
>Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com> said:
>>                            Amendment I
>>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
>>prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
>>speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
>>assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 
>>                           Amendment II
>>A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
>>State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
>Which part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand Kent??  

I understand that part almost perfectly, I daresay.  It's the rest of 
the sentence that is subject to various interpretations.

The wording of the second amendment is strange, and I have read
several highly opinionated pieces about what it means.  I also read
relevant sections of the Federalist/Anti-Federalist papers.

First of all, consider what it does not say.  It does *not* say 
"Congress shall make no law" -- meaning therefore that congress *can* 
make laws, as long as the rest of the sentence is observed.

It does *not* say "the right of an *individual* to keep and bear arms 
shall not be infringed.  It says "the people", a collective term.  It 
references a *well-regulated* militia.

Furthermore, this amendment was derived from input from two states (I 
don't have the documents handy, or I would tell you exactly).
There are caveats in both of the documents, referring to such things 
as "public safety".  The founding fathers were quite aware that it 
isn't necessary to allow criminals to carry guns at all times.

Therefore my interpretation is that according to the constitution,
there is a broad right for the population to own guns, but that right
is fundamentally justified through "the security of a free State". 
Use of arms contrary to the security of the state is not justified
through the second amendment, nor does the second amendment prohibit
congress or the states from controlling such unjustified use of arms.

Thus, the police can take guns away from common thiefs without fear of
a constitutional challenge.  And states, cities, and other 
governmental agencies can regulate arms for the public good, which may 
mean that certain individuals can't own weapons, or that certain kinds 
of weapons can be proscribed.

Here's an analogy -- imagine a hypothetical addition to the Bill of 
Rights, amendment -1:

                           Amendment -1

A healthy economy, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to engage in business, shall not be

The key is the "engage in business" clause.  Engaging in business
implicitly involves a set of rules of the game.  Inforcing those
rules, or modifying them in light of new circumstances (eg invention
of the telephone) is not the same as "infringing". 

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent@songbird.com			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55