By Mr. Curmudgeon:
“In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds … in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” said President Obama in reference to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that ended 26 lives, mostly children.
“Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” asked the president.
The uncomfortable answer to his last question is, “Yes.”
The president’s allusion to hard politics and the ugly “price of our freedom” is a thinly veiled slight against the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. Obama, and his media partners, have ratcheted up the one-hundred-year-old Progressive argument that pits the desire for security against God-given freedom.
To achieve this, the government must engage in “prior restraint”: curtailing citizen actions to prevent crimes before they occur. Prior restraint usually pertains to cases involving government attempts to curb free speech.
In Near vs. Minnesota (1931), the US Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a Minnesota law that required “malicious” and “scandalous” publications to provide proof for allegations leveled against public officials.
“If we cut through mere details of procedure,” wrote the court in its majority opinion, “the operation and effect of the statute in substance is that public authorities may bring the owner or publisher of a newspaper or periodical before a judge upon a charge of conducting a business of publishing scandalous and defamatory matter … unless the owner or publisher is able and disposed to bring competent evidence to satisfy the judge that the charges are true and are published with good motives and for justifiable ends … This is of the essence of censorship.”
In other words, shielding public officials from false press accusations did not trump the Constitution’s First Amendment free speech. The Minnesota law, in essence, declared all investigative reporting illegal unless proven true to the satisfaction of the courts. The high court ruled that freedom – not truth – was the higher principle. The final arbiter of truth, therefore, is the court of public opinion.
In an address delivered before the grieving citizens of Newtown, President Obama said, “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”
“But that can’t be an excuse for inaction,” Obama added, “Surely, we can do better than this. If there is one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.”
That “step” requires restraining free citizens from exercising their inalienable right to bear arms; to regard rational, law-abiding Americans as criminally insane perpetrators in waiting.
Freedom is a hard pill to swallow. If not, free societies would be the rule in our dark world and not the exception. Understanding this, our nation’s Founders denied Congress and the political majority the power to make laws curtailing individual rights.
Freedom of speech, religion and the right to defend them through gun ownership were enshrined in the first two amendments of our Constitution because freedom – not security – is the highest American principle.