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To unravel Bill of Rights, start with a single thread ...

To unravel Bill of Rights, start with a single thread ...
by Vin Suprynowicz

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 hooligans.

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 defenders.

"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 transactions."

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 "background check."

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 "registration."

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 competing papers.

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."

How droll.

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 ..."

Vin Suprynowicz is one of the most articulate spokesmen serving on the front lines of the Freedom Movement we have. Vin's timely and well written articles are syndicated in newspapers all around the country, and they circulate around the world freely on the Internet and in Libertarian publications. He is the author of Send in the Waco Killers, the book that tells the details the media failed to tell in plain English. The best way to get Vin is to subscribe directly to the e-mail distribution list for his column. Send a request to with "subscribe" in the subject line.

It is an honor to host this man's work, and we encourage you to visit his site and read his book. To read other articles by Vin on this site, click here. You can also see his full archives at these two sites:

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The writings of scholars who have written on the subject are virtually united on the point that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, not simply the state national guards. PROFESSOR GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS

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