Senator Russell Pearce And His Selective Protection for the U.S. Constitution
When Arizona Senator Russell Pearce voted in favor of a law prohibiting protests and pickets near funeral services, he called it a "balance of rights," according to Arizona Republic reporter Alia Rau.
Where is that balance of rights when Pearce proposes other laws that impact the rights and freedoms of Arizona residents?
He and other like-minded politicians have successfully abolished training and licensing requirements to carry a concealed weapon. The Constitution, they say, is their license to carry. Now, they want to allow guns on college campuses.
When Governor Jan Brewer signed the funeral protection bill into law on Tuesday, she said that families have the right to grieve without feeling intimidated or harassed.
Lawmakers adopted the law specifically because they didn't want members of the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas, to protest too close to the funerals of a 9-year-old girl, federal judge and other victims of suspected shooter Jared Loughner.
The fundamentalist church preaches extreme and hate-filled messages, and keeping them away from the funerals of victims in this high-profile shooting rampage was a politically popular "balancing of rights."
Imagine if Pearce and other had voted against that measure? If they said that they could not even consider it because they stood in "full support" of the First Amendment?
But in Arizona's current political climate, there is no balancing of Second Amendment rights.
Guns on college campuses? Is there any consideration for students who might be intimidated sitting next to a gun-toting classmate? What about the rights of university or college officials to make decisions about creating the best learning environment for their students?
Second Amendment says that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."
When Pearce and the rest of Arizona's lawmakers voted on Tuesday to keep protesters 300 feet away from a funeral or burial service, they managed to find a balance by not outright banning protests of funerals, but limiting the protests in time and scope.
It's not the case when it comes to the Second Amendment. How can he and other politicians reconcile the hypocrisy?
They allow the discomfort or intimidation caused by a protester spewing hateful speech to abridge, if even in a small way, the First Amendment, but do not consider the discomfort or intimidation felt by students in a learning environment with guns.
It seems that when it comes to the First Amendment, Pearce stands with the grieving families of those who lost their lives in Saturday's shooting in Tucson. Yet, when it comes to the Second Amendment, Pearce stands with Jared Loughner.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- Diane Douglas Recall Petition Filed; Now Her Opponents Need 360,000 Signatures
- Mexicans Most Likely of Immigrants to be Locked Up in Detention Centers
- Violent Monsoon Microburst That Exploded Over the Valley Caught on Social Media