Stoneman Douglas students are once again the center of the gun control conversation. Now though, it’s because of the school’s response to the tragedy. They’ve mandated that the students wear transparent backpacks.

To say that this did not go over well is an understatement.

Others, though, saw it pyrrhic victory.

The thing is, though, is that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. To see why, consider this thought experiment.

A man walks into a crowded theater and announces that he has a bomb that he is going to detonate it 60 seconds or right then if someone rushes him. The crowd devolves into a frenzied mass. A few people fall and get trampled to death by the panicked mob hurrying to escape.

A minute passes, but nothing happened. Two. Five. Ten…

There was no bomb. The man lied.

The government needed to respond but they didn’t want to curtail people’s first amendment rights. So, instead, they mandated that all future movie-goers will be subject to a full TSA-style search. If someone yelled “bomb!” again, attendees could relax knowing that they had to be lying. After all, a real bomb would have been found by the security screening.  

Does this seem like a reasonable response? We ought to be leery about restricting people’s free speech — but is this the solution?

The obvious answer is no. The first amendment is not without limitations. You can’t slander someone. You can’t whisper military secrets into the ears of a hostile foreign power. You can’t yell “fire” (or, in this case, “bomb”) in a movie theater. To do so would be to tread upon the rights of others. So, to maximize overall liberty, we must accept clearly-defined constraints on even our most foundational rights.

I’ve written before that people ought to be pro-second amendment. But to be so is to acknowledge, as none other than Scalia insisted, that the right is not without limitations.

If you believe that the purpose of the second is to defend all our remaining liberties, it makes little sense to force them to fall on their own swords just so it can continue unconstrained

SOURCEPhoto: Fox News
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Peter Licari
Peter is a PhD student in American Politics and Political Methodology at the University of Florida studying political behavior, elections, and polling. He identifies as an ideological moderate and a center-left Republican. While he departs from the party line on a handful of salient issues (Gay Marriage, Climate Change, and Abortion), he tends to identify strongly with many of the party's core values including equality of opportunity, empowering individual liberty, the importance of state and local governance, and the power of a fair market. He firmly believes in the necessity of limited government intervention on those issues enumerated by the constitution and by legal precedent but is leery at expansion beyond that sphere. He also blogs at and doodles web-comics at What little spare time remains is dedicated to long-distance running, reading, playing video games with his ever-patient fiancee, Stephanie, and to oddly productive one-sided conversations with his cat, Asia.