Europe, Free Speech, And How The Second Defends The First

AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File

By virtue of what I do, I spend a lot of time talking about rights. In particular, our Second Amendment rights.

In a way, I’m fortunate. I live in a country where even many anti-gunners are forced to at least pretend the right exists, even if they distort the reality of what that right entails. After all, the Second Amendment is pretty clear.


Europeans, however, don’t have those protections.

That’s why most European nations have effectively banned firearm ownership. They’ve made it virtually impossible to exercise one’s right to keep and bear arms. Legally, anyway.

But that’s not the only rights under assault, and I can’t help but believe at least some of that stems from the fact that no one can resist.

You see, in England, they banned guns, but now they’re banning words.

More and more, we see people in England arrested for so-called “hate speech.” What’s more, it’s not the truly vile kind of speech that’s being considered as such. No, it’s things like calling someone born male “a man” when they say they’re not. Is doing so rude? Maybe. Should it be criminal, though?

I can’t help but wonder what is next for our nation’s closest military ally.

This is the same nation that prosecuted a man for teaching a pug to make a Nazi salute as part of a joke. While I didn’t find it funny, I damn sure didn’t think he should have been prosecuted for it. Bad humor is still humor, after all.

I can’t help but notice that this crackdown on speech–legal limits on what you can say and how you can say it–didn’t happen until after the nation made it legally impossible to have the means to resist tyranny. It’s almost like government officials knew they’d never get away with this crap if people had guns, so they took them away before pulling these shenanigans.


To be clear, that’s not the case. I don’t think there was some dark plan to restrict gun ownership so the UK government could arrest a man for teaching his dog to raise a paw every time he heard an anti-Semitic phrase.

I do, however, think that these officials wouldn’t have tried this with an armed populace.

The truth of the matter is that our Bill of Rights exists for a reason. Each of those 10 amendments was put in place as a bulwark against tyranny. The First Amendment exists to protect the sharing of ideas. By necessity, it means sharing ideas regardless of whether they’re good ideas or not. The marketplace of ideas will determine that just fine. There’s a reason why the abolitionist movement grew, after all.

The Second Amendment, however, is an insurance policy. It’s how our Founding Fathers wanted us to be able to make damn sure we could hold onto that freedom. The reason it’s phrased the way it is with the opening clause isn’t because they were worried about states having guns, but people. They knew damn good and well that we might need to protect our rights.

As such, efforts to follow the lead of the UK is failing. We value our rights, and lawmakers who want to take them away have to be more subtle because there’s an armed population that will eventually see what’s happening and respond.


Right now, I wish that existed in Europe. If more European nations had such gun rights protections, then maybe we’d stop seeing people prosecuted for saying the “wrong” thing.

If it still happened, it wouldn’t be happening for long.

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