In targeting journalists like David Gregory and Piers Morgan, gun industry supporters show they believe the Constitution consists of exactly fifteen words…. (More)

I usually worry about TV news personalities about as much as they worry about me. They never have to ride in a pet carrier in the cargo hold, because their organizations can afford airline tickets. Some also talk about politicians being “squirrely” as if that’s a bad thing.

I’m not bitter, mind you. Roving reporter is just my work-study job here at BPI, while I finish my thesis on 21st Century Political Nuttitude. Still, I rarely fret when TV news folk get criticism. Frankly, they often deserve it.

What they don’t deserve is calls for their arrest or deportation.

Sunday on Meet the Press, David Gregory challenged NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on the issue of mass shootings involving high-capacity magazines, and held up an empty 30-round magazine of the kind used in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Or, as the right wing described it, Gregory “brandished” the high-capacity magazine … because that word sounds threatening.

Turns out it’s illegal to possess such a magazine in the District of Columbia, where Meet the Press is recorded, so gun industry supporters immediately began calling for Gregory’s arrest and prosecution:

But assuming, as Gregory stated, that the magazine was for an AR-15, then why shouldn’t Gregory and the staffers to and from whom the magazine was transferred, be prosecuted? Particularly in light of Gregory’s aggressive demand for more guns laws.

Certainly, if LaPierre had shown up with that magazine, there would be howls of gotcha, and widespread media demands for prosecution. Why should NBC News and its star be above the law?

There’s another lesson here.

Gregory’s possible violation of the law was exposed by the conservative blogosphere, which also pointed out that Gregory sends his kids to a school with armed security at the same time he was mocking the NRA suggestion of armed security in schools.

We have to do more of this, investigating the investigators and inquiring of the inquisitors. It’s one of the legal insurrections for 2013.

This isn’t about enforcing D.C. gun laws. The writer complains there are too many such gun laws anyway. It’s about using the law to silence journalists who dare to challenge the gun industry.

That’s not mere speculation. Consider the petition to deport CNN host Piers Morgan:

A petition asking President Obama to deport CNN anchor Piers Morgan gathered more than 33,000 signatures in just three days.

The petition on the White House’s “We the People” website posted Friday has crossed the 25,000 threshold needed to solicit a response from President Obama. But unlike the petitions to reduce gun violence that Obama addressed last week, this one isn’t likely to receive a favorable response.

The petition takes aim at Morgan for his impassioned defense of proposed gun control legislation on air this week. It accuses him of launching “a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment.”

Morgan, a British journalist living in the U.S., had the audacity to call Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt “a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense,” and to rebut false claims by gun industry supporter John Lott about gun violence in other countries. For this, gun industry supporters say, Morgan should be thrown out of the country.

Both Gregory and Morgan can and, if their cases ever reach a courtroom, probably will cite the First Amendment’s Freedom of the Press Clause. As well they should. But gun industry supporters lean more toward the logic of former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who said back in February, “the Second Amendment is there to protect the First Amendment!” By that reasoning, if Gregory and Morgan want the free press guaranteed in the First Amendment, they should arm arm themselves and be ready to shoot it out with cops or immigrations officials.

Or maybe gun industry supporters just don’t think the First Amendment applies to criticisms of gun industry supporters at all. Never mind that the Second Amendment is the only one in the Bill of Rights that specifically includes language allowing Congress to define its limits:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state[…].

Note those words “well regulated.”

There’s nothing like that in the First Amendment guarantees of free speech, free association, or freedom of the press and religion. Even so, the Supreme Court has held and most Americans accept that there are reasonable limits on each of those freedoms. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. You can’t block traffic without a parade permit. You can’t maliciously publish lies to destroy someone’s reputation. You can’t abuse your children under the rubric of religious belief.

Most of us accept that such regulations are necessary, even without the words “well regulated” in the First Amendment. And those words are right there, explicitly, in the Second. Yet gun industry supporters oppose any regulation whatsoever. After all, they say, the Second Amendment exists to protect us from tyranny. Never mind that armed combat against our government is mentioned in an entirely different part of the Constitution … Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them[…].

The Second Amendment does not guarantee, as some claim, “a right of revolution.” We have no such right, no more than did the Founders when they rebelled against Britain. They committed treason in doing so, and they knew it. As Benjamin Franklin famously said upon signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Nor is the Civil War proof of a ‘right to revolution.’ President Andrew Johnson pardoned most of those who took part in that rebellion, and several others were tried for treason. While the Supreme Court held in Ex Parte Milligan that those defendants should not have been tried in military courts, Justice Chase added:

It is proper to say, although Milligan’s trial and conviction by a military commission was illegal, yet, if guilty of the crimes imputed to him, and his guilt had been ascertained by an established court and impartial jury, he deserved severe punishment.

Had Milligan and others like him been tried and convicted of treason in civilian courts, their convictions would have been upheld. The Second Amendment does not supersede the Article III Treason Clause.

Simply, gun rights supporters believe in a constitution that consists of exactly fifteen words: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” They like to quote China’s Mao Zedong, who wrote: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Of course, gun industry supporters leave off the first part of that quote too: “Every Communist must grasp the truth.” Like the bit about the “well regulated militia,” the rest of Mao’s quote would be … inconvenient.

Kinda like the First Amendment, at least when a journalist dares to criticize the gun industry….

Good day and good nuts.