Globally, the United States is the precedent-setter, which all other countries look to, and who utilize U.S. legislation as a yardstick when drafting legislation of their own. It would seem that any citizen of the United States has the ability to publicly broadcast their views, through a multitude of channels.
Further, it would seem that the majority of U.S. law enforcement officials would uphold this right to freedom of speech if a person were threatened with violence, merely for voicing a point of view, so long as the person did not spread “falsehood or advocate specific violent acts,” as reported by PBS.
Publishing the classified movements of military personnel is banned under federal law. Cases involving the publishing of false, libelous information about a public figure are often litigated in civil court. Unless a person is specifically advocating harm, courts have appeared to tend to uphold the First Amendment rights of U.S. Citizens, as reported by Cornell University Law School.
Today, most U.S. law enforcement agencies would generally work to protect any U.S. citizens from being stopped from engaging in their First Amendment rights. However, this is in an environment where U.S. citizens are also afforded the Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms,” as reported by Cornell University Law School. Police charged with deciding whether a person is overstepping the bounds of their First Amendment rights do so in an environment where citizens may exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Perhaps surprisingly, this situation has not resulted in most newspapers and book publishers requiring the services of armed security guards. A logical truce has formed between those who produce media and voice opinions and those who might wish to quell them. While this truce does not result in daily gun battles, it is a truce backed by the right to bear arms granted to the U.S. civilian population by the Second Amendment. A peace of power, perhaps comparable to U.S.-former Soviet Union relations during the Cold War.
Some believe that to take away the Second Amendment would result in the First Amendment carrying little weight; only police officers, militias, and the military could then back their right to freedom of speech with force if threatened, explains Dave Kopel.
“Unless one is prepared to argue that the First Amendment ‘right of the people peaceably to assemble’ protects only National Guard meetings… it is impossible to coherently maintain that the Second Amendment ‘right of the people’ belongs to the National Guard or the states, rather than to the people.”
Some Western democracies, generally lauded for their high standards of living, do not maintain the same level of personal liberty, especially with regard to freedom of speech and assembly, as the United States does. More than 1,000 Canadians have been deemed by courts to have had their First Amendment-equivalent civil rights “violated” at the 2010 G7 Summit in Toronto, as reported by the Council of Canadians. The Ontario Provincial Police have warned Ontarians about sharing media and messages that are not “kind” on the internet, sparking a round of comments from Canadian freedom of speech watchdogs, as reported by the Inquisitr. Seeming instances of authorities not upholding individuals’ right to freedom of speech in the United Kingdom have been documented by Eamon O’Kelly with Quora. It is likely, though open for debate, that authorities in the United States would have handled these situations differently.
It would seem that the First Amendment right to freedom of speech will always be under attack. The right to publish and voice opinions only carries weight if no physical force can silence them. That every single citizen in the United States actually has this right available to them, so long as they don’t abuse it, is one of the things that makes America great. It is why judges, politicians, and journalists around the world look to the United States as an example, as the guiding light, as to what free expression includes, and what it does not.
In its place as the world leader, and precedent-setter, defining what freedom of speech is, cases in the United States are looked to, and held up against, cases in other countries. If the Second Amendment was repealed, would the cases the world looks to begin to shift toward those who still had access to weapons?
Perhaps speaking to this situation is that while Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is noted for his support both for and from the National Rifle Association, as reported by the Institute for Legislative Action, neither popular Democrat Bernie Sanders or presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have called for a total handgun ban, of the type in place in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The United States is noted for having a gun death rate 40 times that of the United Kingdom, as previously reported by the Inqusitr. The National Observer reports that Canada’s “firearms-related homicide rate” is about “seven times” lower than the United States’.
The situation might be described as a love/hate one; where Canada and the United Kingdom thumb their noses at the United States smugly over their low gun-related death rates, but then come crawling back, metaphorically, once their civil rights have been violated.
While Canada has an annual firearm death rate of 2.3 people per 100,000 and the United Kingdom, 0.2 compared with the United States’ 10.2, both nations look to, and enjoy, the benefit of the example of the high level of freedom of expression set in the United States afforded under the First Amendment and, seemingly, upheld by the Second Amendment. Major political leaders in the United States appear to recognize this situation, making it likely that, less than a ban on assault weapons of the type proposed by Hillary Clinton, an outright ban on guns will not occur anytime soon in America’s future. Corresponding to this, the number of deaths related to guns in the United States is unlikely to drop significantly in the near future.
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