Along with several local representatives, county chairpersons and speakers — including former Sen. Paul Sanford and Reps. Barry Moore and Mo Brooks — I had an opportunity to speak at a “Free the Speech” rally last month in my home state of Alabama. It was a great gathering of individuals who support our First Amendment and the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.
Contemplating the Amendments
Admittedly, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to share with this particular group. I would venture to guess that, in most cases, those who are willing to stand up for our Bill of Rights are pretty receptive to messages about all of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution! But I typically speak at 2A rallies and events, and this crowd may not have wanted — or been prepared — to hear about guns, gear, national reciprocity or permitless carry.
With only a few short minutes to speak at the rally, I really wanted to think it through. And I started to consider how much our first two amendments (particularly) protect us from the government and guarantee civil rights and liberties to each individual.
I also thought about how much our first two amendments get targeted and attacked.
It’s been painfully obvious for some time that “they’re coming after our guns.” But nowadays, many politicians, private companies and media outlets are making it clear that they’re coming after our words too. The idea of being free to speak one’s mind is one of America’s most fundamental and foundational values. And most of us at one time or another have probably used the phrase: “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
As a writer, editor, speaker and instructor in the firearms industry, my professional life depends immensely on both the First and the Second Amendments, so the topic is of utmost importance to me. Of course, the scariest and most unacceptable part of this is not people seeking to ban firearms or censor conversations. They’re coming after our natural-born, God-given rights, and it feels as if they are wanting to ban and censor us.
Ultimately, I decided to share some of these thoughts with the crowd, along with the idea that some people would say that the Second Amendment serves to protect the First. We can all attest that without the Second Amendment and the protected right to defend ourselves against danger and stand up to tyranny or oppression, the First Amendment is undoubtedly left vulnerable. But I believe it works both ways. Without the First Amendment and the right to freely support our beliefs and speak up for our inalienable rights, the Second Amendment suffers greatly as well.
So just as much as the Second protects the First, the First protects the Second. They work together. They support one another. They are mutually dependent and equally significant. And it’s imperative that we never forget that!