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ACLU Defends the Second Amendment

Lee Phillips
July 14th, 2014

I support the ACLU. I think they do important work in defending the parts of the Bill of Rights that they like, mainly the First and Fourth Amendments.

I also support the Second Amendment. Apparently this makes me strange, because for cultural reasons that I don’t understand people who support gun rights tend to be hostile to the ACLU. This may partly be due to the fact that the ACLU does not get involved in Second Amendment cases. For reasons most likely due, again, to cultural biases rather than law, lawyers drawn to ACLU service probably consider Second Amendment cases unimportant, or may be actually hostile to gun rights. But the Second Amendment has a strong advocate in the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action; between the ILA and the ACLU most of the important parts of the Bill of Rights are covered. So the ACLU’s specializing in their favorite parts of the constitution doesn’t bother me.

The ACLU takes freedom of speech so seriously that they have, famously, defended the rights of American Nazis to hold their idiotic marches and rallies. They have reminded us all of the insight that it is only unpopular speech that needs defending, and that it is a mistake to allow the suppression of speech that we don’t like.

Even so, I imagine that many in the leadership held their noses when they defended Jordan Klaffer, who was confronted by a policeman responding to a noise complaint generated by Klaffer’s discharging firearms on his own property. He refused to turn over his guns and was arrested. None of that concerns the ACLU, of course. What did get them involved was the court order that the policeman obtained, prohibiting Klaffer from publishing any material critical of the policeman on the internet, including suppressing the video of the initial interaction leading to the arrest.

Klaffer and the ACLU prevailed, extracting a written apology and legal costs from the policeman, and a promise from the town to stop trying to get similar unconstitutional court orders.

Thanks to the ACLU for once again reaffirming that our First Amendment rights apply to the internet as much as they do to ink on paper, and that we may record our interactions with the police and make those recordings public. And while they, characteristically, displayed no concern over a policeman’s assuming the authority to confiscate someone’s legally owned firearms without due process, they did at least in this case, although incidentally, come within spitting distance of actually defending the right to keep and bear arms.

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