Suppose with me that hypothetical riots and insurrection have broken
out in our fair city. At your local newspaper office, pressmen drop what
they're doing, drive home to grab their hunting rifles, and return to join
the small, uniformed security staff in guarding the premises from rampaging
Sure enough, within minutes, a parade of surly, drunken rioters appears
around the corner, bearing torches and striding directly toward the
newspaper offices. "The newspaper you're defending is an organ of the
corporate state!" shouts the mob's leader, climbing atop a car hood. "Its
pages are bought and paid for by the advertising of greedy capitalist
exploiters that keep the working man down! Let us in!"
"What do you aim to do?" asks the pressman in charge of the newspaper's
"We've got sledgehammers to break up the presses, and then we're going to
use these torches to burn the place down," explains the head of the mob.
"Join us! Or are you part of the system that only makes the rich richer,
and never gives a break to the little guy?"
"Well, OK," agrees the pressman. "Let them through, guys. After all, in
this age of ever-widening economic gaps between the 'haves' and the
'have-nots', it's pretty difficult to defend our part in such capitalist
Is there something wrong with this picture? Armed citizens who would
stand aside and watch a newspaper's presses shattered and burned would be
kissing their own freedoms goodbye, wouldn't they?
Of course. The Ninth Amendment assures us Americans have far more rights
than are enumerated in the first 10 articles of Amendment. But the rights
sanctified in the Bill of Rights itself are there because they're the
paramount liberties necessary to preserve freedom. More importantly they
are interlocked, often as firmly as a cat's cradle.
What good is the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a "speedy and public
trial" without the Fifth's guarantee of "due process," as well as its
protection against enforced self-incrimination?
A speedy public "trial" at which the defendant appears bound and gagged,
and the only "testimony" is a reading of his confession, signed under
torture? Thanks for nothing.
How could any of our other rights be long preserved without the First
Amendment's freedom of the press, allowing publishers to raise a loud alarm
against any government attempt to erode our other liberties?
And isn't the very purpose of the Second Amendment to make sure we have
an armed citizenry -- "necessary to the security of a free state" -- to
guard that freedom of the press (among the others) from any mob or tyrant
that aims to take it away?
What then, shall we make of the AP news report out of Tucson, Arizona
last week, that "The city's two daily newspapers will no longer allow
individuals to sell guns through classified advertisements"?
"The Arizona Daily Star announced its policy change Sunday, and The
Tucson Citizen's editor and publisher confirmed a similar policy Monday,"
the AP story continues.
"In a front page notice to readers, Jane Amari, the Star's editor and
publisher, said there was concern that people buying through classifieds
circumvent background checks now required by law."
Background checks (back-door registration) which a free press might be
expected to oppose with all its might, of course, given that the Second
Amendment assures us "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall
not be infringed."
But that would only be the case for a newspaper publisher who sees those
rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights as mutually supporting -- all of
one fabric -- I guess.
Instead, Ms. Amari explained to her readers: "In an age of increasing gun
violence, it is difficult to defend our part in the transaction."
Really? First, if the Associated Press reports accurately, then Ms. Amari
has lied outright to her readers: Private transfers among law-abiding gun
owners remain legal under both federal and Arizona law, without any
But beyond that, Yale law professor John Lott -- along with Gary Kleck at
Florida State -- have now demonstrated beyond refute that the carrying of
concealed handguns by law-abiding citizens substantially reduces violent
crime. The only thing "hard to defend ... in this age of increasing gun
violence" are actions that tend to perpetuate victim disarmament, by making
it hard for free citizens to acquire arms equal to those of their
assailants without getting caught up in the net of government
We will be assured this is a matter of no concern, of course, since it's
"only a private decision," and Tucson readers can always patronize
But Tucson's morning Star and evening Citizen were
the competing papers. They received a special exemption from federal
anti-trust laws to combine their advertising and business departments into
a monopoly, "in the public interest."
Both newspapers will continue to accept ads placed by federally
registered gun dealers, we are assured -- the kind in which the new owner's
name and address are registered with state and federal authorities -- the
very kind of registration scheme which made it easy for authorities to
confiscate firearms in Turkey in 1915, in Russia and Germany in the 1920s
and '30s, and in the past decade alone in England, Australia, Staten
Island, and California.
No, Ms. Amari is under no obligation to defend the Second Amendment. But
when they finally come to seize her presses, and she looks about and finds
no free citizen coming to her aid, perhaps she'll find cause to paraphrase
Pastor Martin Niemoeller, musing as the Nazis hauled him away: "When they
came for the gun owners I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a gun owner