Don't abuse 1st Amendment
Wagner, of Bent Mountain, is retired from the U.S. Army.
Re: "Let Kaine's vetoes stand," April 7 editorial:
I take issue with paragraphs two and three of your editorial, to wit:
"The vetoed bills pandered to firearms ... advocates."
"Lawmakers decided it was a good idea to allow people with concealed carry permits and retired law enforcement to take their weapons into bars, as if alcohol and weapons are ever a good mix."
Firearms advocates are no different at their base than speech advocates. The inalienable and constitutionally protected right to speak freely is no different than the right to keep and bear arms, which millions of Americans, myself included, also covet. Both rights are "inalienable," both are "individual" and both are protected by the United States Constitution and by several state constitutions, including that of this commonwealth.
Neither right is absolute. Speech is unprotected if used unreasonably or for unlawful or dishonest purposes. A person cannot shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater if there is no fire. The right to "keep and bear arms" is unprotected if arms are carried to further an unprovoked attack on another. Your rights to speak or bear arms stop at the tip of my nose. Both of these rights belong to citizens of the United States and of this commonwealth.
The First Amendment is of no more or less importance than the Second Amendment, and no advocate of one is more important a citizen than an advocate of another. Your editorial swipe at firearms advocates is an insult to, and an elitist condemnation of, every citizen who advocates on behalf of the Bill of Rights.
Second point. When a newspaper editor, using the First Amendment right to free speech, lies, stretches the truth or fails to fully disclose the facts, the speech is not reasonable and is no more protected than my right to bear arms is protected if I walk up to a citizen and attempt to rob him using a knife, a firearm, a club or any other weapon.
When you editorialized that "Lawmakers decided it was a good idea to allow people with concealed carry permits and retired law enforcement to take their weapons into bars, as if alcohol and weapons are ever a good mix," you lied to your readers. You did not simply err or make a mistake, as you admitted you did in 2007 when you recklessly abused your First Amendment privilege by posting online 135,000 names of concealed handgun permit holders, causing severe damage to several of the commonwealth's more vulnerable citizens and personal discomfort to many more.
No. You intentionally misrepresented the truth and did not disclose all of the facts. S.B. 1035ER, vetoed by Gov. Tim Kaine, would have allowed a CHP holder to carry concealed in a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages as long as the CHP holder does not consume any alcoholic beverages.
Nowhere in SB 1035ER was the term "bar" used. That alcohol and weapons are never a good mix was reflected in the portion of the bill that prohibited an armed CHP holder, under penalty of law, from consuming alcoholic beverages in a restaurant. The bill stated, "A person who consumes alcohol in violation of the provisions of [SB 1035ER] is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and a person who becomes intoxicated in violation of the provisions of the bill is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."
The conduct of The Roanoke Times in once again abusing its First Amendment privilege should bring shame to your very core on a personal level and public condemnation upon you on a professional level.
You need to step back and assess the reason for the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment. Remember, your rights stop at the tip of my nose. I personally have a dog in this fight. I'm one of the millions of Americans who, as a young soldier, left home and hearth to march onto a distant battlefield, armed to the teeth, to secure the Bill of Rights for all of us, or die trying.