A March 11th letter to the LA Times’ editor takes on the argument that the Second Amendment only protects the kinds of guns in existence at its ratification by showing this would also mean the First Amendment only protects the kinds of speech of its day.
The debate was launched by a March 6th letter in which Whittier, California resident David Bortin wrote:
The real question is not what the 18th century framers meant by “militia” but what they meant by “arms.” Obviously they meant nothing like the subject of modern-day international arms limitation treaties. Let’s face it: They didn’t even mean AK-47s. What they had in mind were flintlock muskets and blunderbusses, and perhaps the crude handguns in use in 1792.
Responding to this on March 11th, Los Angeles resident Robert Emerson wrote:
It’s an interesting position to suggest the 2nd Amendment should only protect the right to bear the arms in use when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.
Following this logic, the protections provided by the 1st Amendment must be similarly restricted to the technology of the time. Speech using radio or television or a blogger’s commentary or the Internet would not be protected by the 1st Amendment, since “what they had in mind” were quill pens, hand presses and unamplified voices.
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