Open Carry Tarrant County is claiming a “win for freedom” after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday stating that an Arlington city council ordinance violated their First Amendment rights to hand out flyers to motorists at busy intersections.
The council argued that the ordinance, which dates back to 1994, was a matter of public safety but the gun advocates claim they were being unfairly targeted. OC TC pointed to “fire-fighting fundraising” events and other charitable efforts that took place along the same corridors without enforcement as evidence.
More below the jump…In May, seemingly in anticipation of potential lawsuits, the council tweaked the ordinance to be somewhat less restrictive creating free zones of 500 and 1,000 feet around the intersections deemed off limits. But, Justice Reed O'Conner ruled that, “these restrictions burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further Arlington's interests in pedestrian and traffic safety.”
Essentially OC TC's attorney argued that the council was reacting to guns and not “public safety” and that their questions regarding what type of gun the plaintiff was carrying and whether or not it was loaded were “irrelevant.” The answers for readers' sake are “an AK-47″ and “yes it was loaded.”
This is not the first act of this play. Back in April the Arlington city council passed an ordinance that banned deadly weapons and simulated weapons from City Hall. The council's reasoning was that citizens might be discouraged from attending public hearings and meetings if they feared open carry demonstrators.
Sure that makes sense, but it also gets at the root of why this issue is so controversial. OC TC says they demonstrate in order to educate people about guns and desensitize them to seeing them in public, but by admission that means most people are not desensitized to seeing them openly displayed. Besides that, there is a sizable portion of the population that will never be comfortable with such demonstrations to which they (open carry groups) seem well aware by their constant prodding of gun safety advocates Mom's Demand Action.
It may be true that we can't start limiting free speech because it makes someone uncomfortable, but it is also true that we can't yell fire in a crowded theater — meaning all rights have limits. Open carry advocates would have a better argument for reducing restrictions on their Second Amendment if only they would learn to better self regulate.
View the ruling here.
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