Guns and Speech Technologies: How the Right to Bear Arms Affects Copyright Regulations of Speech Technologies

By Lee, Edward | The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, May 2009 | Go to article overview

Guns and Speech Technologies: How the Right to Bear Arms Affects Copyright Regulations of Speech Technologies


Lee, Edward, The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal


ABSTRACT

This Article examines the possible effect the Supreme Court's landmark Second Amendment ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller will have on future cases brought under the Free Press Clause.1 Based on the text and history of the Constitution, the connection between the two Clauses is undeniable, as the Heller Court itself repeatedly suggested. Only two provisions in the entire Constitution protect individual rights to a technology: the Second Amendment's right to bear "arms" and the Free Press Clause's right to the freedom of the "press," meaning the printing press. Both rights were viewed, moreover, as pre-existing, natural rights to the Framing generation and were separately called during the Framing the "palladium of liberty" and essential to "the security of freedom in a state." The development of both concepts traces back to the abuses of the Crown in disarming the populace and restricting the printing press in England. During the seventeenth century, the people in England were deprived of both technologies-in the case of the printing press, by the copyright holders of the period known as the Stationers' Company, which conducted warrantless searches to seize unauthorized presses with the backing of the Crown. The Bill of Rights was enacted to stop these abuses in the new Republic. Both clauses developed in direct reaction to the perceived threat of government restrictions on the respective technologies. Given this historical connection, the analysis of the Second Amendment in Heller may provide a useful point of reference for the Court in future cases interpreting the Free Press Clause. Just as Heller held that banning handguns for the purpose of gun control violates the Second Amendment's core protection of the right to possess arms for self-defense, banning speech technologies for the purpose of copyright control violates the Free Press Clause's core protection of speech technologies for self-expression.

INTRODUCTION

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court defined, for the first time in 217 years of the Second Amendment's existence, an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense purposes.2 This landmark decision settled, once and for all, the lingering question of whether the Second Amendment recognizes a general right to bear arms for all individuals, or instead limits such right only to the context of a militia. In a 5-4 decision, the Court opted for the broader interpretation and struck down D.C s gun control law that barred individuals from owning handguns in D.C.3

The Heller decision will likely have ramifications that are far-reaching.4 A day after the Heller decision, the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed five different lawsuits against gun control laws in San Francisco, Chicago, and three Chicago suburbs, to extend the Court's ruling to the states through the doctrine of incorporation and to test the constitutionality of other gun control laws.5 Only a month later, Dick Heller, the same plaintiff in the Second Amendment lawsuit, filed a constitutional challenge to D.C.'s newly revised gun control law that banned semiautomatic handguns capable of shooting more than twelve shots without manual reloading.6 The Heller Court itself recognized that future litigation may arise to test permissible exceptions to the Second Amendment right, which the Court concluded "is not unlimited."7 As the Court emphasized,

[N]othing in [its] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.8

That admonition did nothing to deter subsequent Second Amendment challenges to laws forbidding gun ownership by those convicted of felonies9 or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.10 Although virtually all of these challenges have been rejected thus far, the stream of cases with similar challenges continues unabated.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Guns and Speech Technologies: How the Right to Bear Arms Affects Copyright Regulations of Speech Technologies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.