I’ve said it before on this bloggy thing, but it bears repeating: I am not a gun person. I don’t own a gun and have no desire to own a gun, but that’s just me. I have fired a gun, though; as a kid I went skeet shooting with some friends and I liked it when I hit the target, but when I didn’t … not so much.
That said, I don’t want to take away people’s guns even if I want to see people register their guns, license their guns, be responsible for their guns. That’s all. But gun owners in this country — at least some gun owners — seem to think that if you’re pro-gun control, you want all the guns banned, taken away, destroyed. It’s that fear-mongering thing again; it’s gun folks versus non-gun folks and, at least in Rochester, Minnesota, it’s gotten crazy.
Kimberly Edson recently planted a sign in her own front yard that features a picture of Matthew Halleck, a man who lives in the area, and the words:
"This man carries a loaded gun around your children every day."
Naturally, Matthew Halleck isn’t happy with it and he wants the sign removed. See, he doesn’t think Edson has a right to say what she wants to say — possibly because it’s about him and his gun-toting ways — and wants to shut her up; he wants to limit her speech because she’s worried about his carrying a gun. In fact, he’s thinking of suing her for libel, though he needs to get to a dictionary and look up the word and then realize he hasn’t got a case.
What he does have, however, is a state-issued permit to carry the gun and, in the state of Minnesota, residents don’t need a permit to purchase, use or carry rifles and shotguns, though they do need a license to purchase and carry a handgun; open carry is prohibited in all public areas unless one possesses a recognized permit.
And Matthew Halleck insists he needs to carry the gun for protection because, well, walking down the street in Rochester is, I’m guessing, dangerous. And Kimberly Edson may not disagree with that, but she does feel that people have a right to know who’s coming down the street with a firearm:
"Since we don't have a way to stop him, we felt it was important to notify the neighborhood and the parents that there is an armed man in their presence. The first couple days of school he had it very visible, we saw it and were quite concerned. I have a responsibility to help create the kind of community I want to see, and I don't want to see a community where there are guns around schools.”
So, when Edson saw Halleck carrying his gun — she saw him meaning it was out and on display — she called the police who told her Halleck has a legal right to carry off school property. Then after Edson posted her sign — with Halleck’s picture on it — he promptly called police to tell them about it. The sign was taken down, briefly, but then Halleck was told that Edson was not breaking any laws either, so it went back up and that’s where it stands.
Here’s how it breaks down, though: Matthew Halleck has a Second Amendment right to carry the gun, and Kimberly Edson has a First Amendment right to say she doesn’t like it, so who’s right and who’s wrong?
Well, for me, Matthew Halleck can own a gun, but does he have to open carry it while walking down the street? I don’t think so; he might be one of those responsible gun-owners, but what about the not-so-responsible people on the sidewalks? What if one of them decides to take his gun from him and start shooting? Who’s to blame then?
For me, I’d wanna know who’s got a gun, and where they are so I can avoid them, and I should have the right to say that, and to tell people that. I’m not saying he can’t carry his gun, but he can’t say that I don’t have the right to spread the word about it.
If he wants us all to honor his Second Amendment right to carry a gun, then he has to honor Edson’s First Amendment right to Free Speech.