New Anti-Gun Argument Pits the First Amendment Against the Second

Armed protests chill First Amendment rights, according to this argument. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue, Flickr)

A new article published in The Atlantic last month offers a glimpse into one of the anti-gun arguments likely to be pushed by gun controllers in coming years.

Titled “The Second Amendment Has Become a Threat to the First,” authors Diana Palmer and Timothy Zick argue that gun rights threaten the right to peacefully protest.

“What most people do not realize is that the Second Amendment has become, in recent years, a threat to the First Amendment. People cannot freely exercise their speech rights when they fear for their lives,” they write.

As evidence, the authors cite a new study funded by Everytown for Gun Safety that purports to prove that openly carried firearms scare people away from protests.

Armed demonstrations, the study asserts, are nearly six times as likely to turn “violent or destructive” compared to unarmed demonstrations.

SEE ALSO: Everytown Cheers Reintroduction of Universal Background Check Bill: A ‘Critical First Step’

“Even when no shots are fired, the presence of armed demonstrators is in and of itself a show of violent intimidation,” Everytown writes on its website. Among their list of highlighted examples of “armed protests” is the incident in which Mark and Patricia McCloskey pointed firearms at a group of protestors who broke into their neighborhood.

These allegedly violent armed protests, Palmer and Zick write, dissuade people from attending First-Amendment-protected events they would otherwise attend.

“Whatever the motives of firearms carriers might be, the clear social perception of would-be participants is that armed protests are unsafe,” they write.

The authors also suggest that even permissive concealed carry laws might have the same chilling effect.

“Further study is needed to evaluate the public safety concerns that may still be present when protesters or counterprotesters bring concealed firearms to demonstrations,” they say. “It’s possible that without weapons visible, protesters will not be deterred. But at the same time, merely knowing that people might be armed could keep people away from public protests.”

SEE ALSO: Law Professor: Rioting and Looting Prove Second Amendment Not Outmoded or Anachronistic

The authors conclude by worrying that Second Amendment rights could lead to the end of peaceful protest as we know it.

“Even if public protest survives, only those willing to risk their life, or who are inclined and able to carry weapons in defense of their own right to protest, may want to participate,” they say. “Rather than serving as a democratizing means of expression, protest may become an armed contest and the exclusive preserve of the non-peaceable.”

But Everytown’s data is far from reliable, as even a cursory analysis proves.

Researchers did not publish their full data set, which is a major red flag. They also admit to including both violent and “destructive” protests in their list, but do not differentiate between the two.

They also include protests that became violent without firearms being discharged. This protest from Tyler, Texas, leads their short list of published examples, but despite armed protestors “swarming” the town square, no one fired a single “military-style” rifle during the conflict.

Everytown claims that this incident “exemplifies how the presence of firearms at demonstrations can endanger demonstrators, bystanders, and police” but does not explain the causal connection.

Of course, the anti-gun lobby has never relied on consistent, reliable data to make their arguments. Emotion and hyperbole carry the day, and that appears to be the case with this new line of attack.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • dit November 5, 2021, 5:33 pm

    I think they have it backwards again. Their abuse of the first amendment, using lies, innuendo, hate speech and uncorroborated statements without any data to back them up, is their attempt to undermine our second amendment.

    So again, I propose that all journalists should be licensed and registered with the government and they should have to pay for tons of ethics training and if they print anything that is a lie, they lose their license and not only pay damages, but have their license removed forever. Maybe 10 years in a federal penitentiary for slander and destroying reputations will silence them. Maybe billion dollar bonds paid by the major media outlets to hold them accountable will shut them up.

  • James Spangler November 5, 2021, 3:16 pm

    I like their idea and put forth the proposition (using their logic) that the 16th Amendment is likewise damaging the rest of the Amendments and should be repealed IMMEDIATELY.

  • EasyEddie November 5, 2021, 11:30 am

    If I wanted an unbiased poll, Everytown for Gun Safety would be the ones I’d commission to do it. Not! What a joke. This ranks up there with feeding a lie to the press, then taking the article they write and give it to the DOJ, which then opens an investigation based on the ‘evidence’ presented in the article.

  • Kane November 5, 2021, 11:08 am

    “The study also found that 84 percent of armed protesters at Black Lives Matter protests were counterprotesters from extremist groups such as the “boogaloo boys,” the Proud Boys, and other right-wing groups. Rather than being motivated by self-defense or civil-rights concerns, the decision to carry a gun tends to follow far-right political ideology.”

    I am supposed to believe these columnists? Why was the BLM armed protest in Dallas where 5 DPD Officers were killed and 9 others injured ingnored by the “mainstream media”? Why was the important details of the racist motivated killer in DallasMicah Xavier Johnson swept under the rug? I will never trust people like Palmer and Zick and I reject their disinformation campaigns out of hand.

    Here is a challenge to anyone, list just one decent city in the US that was run into the ground and destroyed by the supposed threat of “White Supremecy.”

  • Mike coyle November 5, 2021, 10:47 am

    In 1st amendment against 2nd amendment what exactly is an armed demonstrator. Antifa with a state board? They say armed demonstrators are much more likely to become violent. The way its written would lead one to think armed means with a gun. Did you verify this before you printed it?

  • Roland November 5, 2021, 10:28 am

    Anybody that uses a quote from Everytown has nothing to say. Everytown quotes are like blasts of gas from your ass. There is no benefit to anyone but themselves and they smell like shit.

  • Lumberjack November 5, 2021, 10:27 am

    So, the presence of armed protestors cause the “Second Amendment has become, in recent years, a threat to the First Amendment” via violent intimidation.

    However, I’m sure that the leftist/socialist authors of the article have no problem with large mobs of protesters attempting to violently intimidate people into doing their bidding, such as on 8/26/20 when a large mob of BLM protesters confronted a woman who wouldn’t raise her fist in solidarity. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA-mbSkQM6M.

    Typical leftist/socialist hypocrites!

  • Billy M November 5, 2021, 9:57 am

    Lost me at the ‘…evidence study funded by Everytown for Gun Safety’. We all know how accurate Everytown is with facts . MOST gun owners also believe in freedom of speech. I would defend any persons right to free speech, even if their belief is contrary to mine. Most of the violence that has occurred at these places were not started by gun owners, but by outside forces (Antifa), wanting to create a disruptive and violent atmosphere so that peaceful protesters are attacked. In the confusion, who knows who started it. And if a law abiding gun owner is faced with a self defense situation, now it appears the pro-gun crowd is the cause. We need to look into who is really the disruptive/violent actors at the gatherings, then look at who is funding them.

  • DEFENDER November 5, 2021, 9:23 am

    These anit-gun people “KNOW” they are “Right”
    and will Kill You, if necessary, to prove it.

    All Funded by millionairs surrounded by Armed Guards,
    living in Compounds surrounded by Armed Guards.

  • Sam November 5, 2021, 8:57 am

    If this doesn’t scare the you know what out of you, then nothing will. The 2nd is there to protrct the 1st, regardless of what the left says. More “science” to strip a nation ,and it’s citizens of freedom. Look at what has happened to all of the countriesnwhere their people have been disarmed.

  • Ants November 5, 2021, 8:40 am

    Funny how trying to prove that armed citizens may keep people away from these protests, but cannot make the intuitive leap that knowing citizens may be armed actually deters crime. It’s ok a normal to have a “mostly peaceful” with buildings burning in the background. But someone exercising a constitutional right is violent. More of the rules for thee but not for me crap.

  • Dr Motown November 5, 2021, 6:50 am

    How is the McCloskey incident (protecting your house from violent protestors) even remotely considered “suppression” of a legitimate protest? All the agitators had to do was walk on by and keep off private property. Their “protest” could’ve continued peacefully if they had chosen so. Progressives are becoming crazier by the day….

    • Gutsy63 November 5, 2021, 10:03 am

      Also if the protestors had not broken through 2 gates to get there, the McCloskys would not be out there protecting their property while armed.

      • POKESHOMER November 5, 2021, 11:07 am

        You would think they would be smart enough to refrain from saying the protesters BROKE into the neighborhood if they were trying to use it as an example.

    • Loggerman November 5, 2021, 9:54 pm

      I was wondering the same thing myself. “The protesters broke into the neighborhood”??? The protesters broke down a gate that belonged to the McCloskey’s and then entered upon their property. It should be noted that at this time, the protesters were threatening to burn down the McCloskey’s home and were debating which bedroom that they were going to occupy when they broke into the house. Then, to add insult to injury, the McCloskey’s were arrested and were going to be tried by “another” George Soros funded prosecutor. This Country has gone mad.

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