The Myth of Second Amendment Exceptionalism

This is my TIME.com column on the Sandy Hook massacre. It’s a version of the piece I posted here a couple days ago.

Organized by the Second Amendment March group, about 500 pro-gun demonstrators rally near the Washington Monument April 19, 2010, in Washington, D.C. (photo: TIME, Inc.)

Organized by the Second Amendment March group, about 500 pro-gun demonstrators rally near the Washington Monument April 19, 2010. Photo: TIME, Inc.

It’s a familiar drill for millions of travelers: bare feet shuffling on a cold floor, belt off, emptied pockets, personal effects exposed for maximum humiliation. This surely constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause, explicitly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. Yet we cede this constitutional right to the executive authority that controls our borders millions of times every day.

When it comes to protecting freedom, Americans, including those on the Supreme Court, recognize that personal liberties must often be modified for the safety and protection of others. Yet today’s gun rights advocates routinely cite the Second Amendment of the constitution—the right to bear arms—when threatened by commonsense proposals to limit, but not eliminate, modern-day weaponry. Constitutionally protected freedoms are routinely curtailed in the name of public safety, morality, or even convenience. Our right to free speech is routinely regulated through obscenity laws. Slander, libel, pornography; we’re muzzled all the time. So, too, are our rights to assembly and religion compromised. You can’t stage a protest at noon in the middle of Times Square. A parent can’t deny a child lifesaving medical care or education.

We’re also willing to cede our more prosaic rights — to drive at maniacal speeds, pollute our waterways, blow cigarette smoke in people’s faces, not wear seat belts or helmets, and on and on — because, mostly, we hold the sensible view that our right to freedom is tempered by someone else’s right to be free from our injurious, costly escapades. But while our current reverence for the Second Amendment seems to go back to the founding fathers, it’s actually evolved over time and reflects cultural norms honed over several decades by lobbying and public relations groups…

Continued at: http://ideas.time.com/2012/12/18/the-myth-of-second-amendment-exceptionalism/#ixzz2FQoyZL5e

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director and Harvard College house master/some-time journalist. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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One Response to The Myth of Second Amendment Exceptionalism

  1. Kirstin Allio says:

    Erika Erika! I have been meaning to write for AGES, and think of you so very often. This is such a good piece — thank you. The hypocrisy is so hard to stomach. I know they think we are too . . . and the mass generalizing, and lines drawn in the sand are equally awful. But. 

    I guess it’s been a surreal fall. Now this beleaguered season (I am, unlike you, a total grinch. I find the whole mess grim and transactional. Yes, corrupt; yes, a marketplace. Tonight we’re going to our big Romney donor friends’ for a Santa party. Neighbors, boys switching houses after school with happy abandon, what can I say . . . ). Glad to imagine you in pastoral VT! Ahhhh! 

    I would so love to see you very soon in the new year. I’ll pull myself together. In the meantime, sending you and ALL of you love! 

    xx Kirstin

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