In a whining opinion piece in the Washington Post yesterday, a “protester” named Ryan Albert sniveled that he publicly posted his opinion that he doesn’t “want military-grade weapons in [his] town” and is now getting sued merely for expressing his opinion. Before I fisk this particular piece of written dreck, I want to note the irony of someone who is complaining about being rightfully sued for abusing his First Amendment right in order to defame another human being and endanger his livelihood and his family, claiming to be a victim in this scenario.
Apparently, bullies don’t like it when their victims fight back. Well, a fight they got, and now they’re publicly whining about it.
I grew up shooting shotguns and rifles with my grandfather in rural Georgia. He would take this city boy out to the farm that has been in my family for more than 150 years. He would teach me how to safely load, discharge and clean the weapons.
Congratulations, so have many others. This does not give you credibility when talking about firearms – a subject about which you know about as much as I know about neurosurgery.
I understand why people want firearms and I believe there are reasons to own hunting rifles, shotguns and, with proper training, handguns for self-defense.
It’s called the Second Amendment. It has nothing to do with what you believe. It is clear why the Founders ensured that We the People retain the right to keep and bear arms. If you are confused, may I point you to Federalist 28?
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.
Ryan then continues, as if his beliefs are somehow legally applicable to others.
I do not believe, however, that there is any legitimate reason for ordinary citizens to own military-grade weapons or use suppressors (better known as silencers by many among us). Yet these are somehow legal to be bought and to own.
The “legitimate reason” is enshrined in the Constitution. It has nothing to do with what Ryan believes, but apparently he considers his puny little, uninformed belief system more important than the actual, legal rights of other people.
FACT: selling sound suppressors is legal in Virginia.
FACT: what Ryan calls “military-grade weapons,” as he nervously clutches his pearls in despair, are regular, semi-automatic rifles that just look scary. Not to mention that historically, the citizens had better and more advanced firearms than the military, and it was the military that was catching up prior to the implementation of major gun control laws. But Ryan is both historically ignorant and arrogant enough to think that his ignorance on the subject should be the arbiter of others’ rights.
It is because of these beliefs that I posted on Facebook my opposition to Broadstone Security’s Nova Armory opening in Arlington County. The owner opened an online store that sells variants of AK-47s, AR-15s and other semiautomatic weapons, short-barreled rifles and silencers. Those weapons belong in the hands of our trained law enforcement and military personnel. An AR-15 makes a lousy self-defense weapon unless you are worried about guerillas invading your home from a distant ridge.
Because I expressed these beliefs in two Facebook posts, I have been named as a defendant in a frivolous lawsuit that seems designed to intimidate me and 63 of my neighbors and state legislators into silence.
The AR-15 makes a “lousy self defense weapon,” eh? I guess those days on grandpa’s farm didn’t teach Ryan much.
At least one expert prefers the AR as his weapon of choice for self defense.
I guess this homeowner thinks his AR was pretty lousy in preventing a home invasion.
And maybe this tax preparation business considers an AR an unlikely self defense weapon as well.
And yes, an AR is a terrible self defense weapon, especially, when merely brandished to scare the intruder away!
In other words, Ryan, you’re a moron.
Here’s what Ryan just doesn’t seem to understand. He can believe anything he wants, including that the sky is yellow, and as long as he doesn’t try to impose those beliefs on others, he will merely be mocked and ignored by all but the most catatonically stupid.
No, Ryan – your beliefs are not what spurred this suit.
No, Ryan – your posting them publicly on Facebook did not spur this suit.
No, Ryan – your beliefs are not a legal basis for a LEGITIMATE business to be bullied out of existence.
No, Ryan – your ignorance about what types of weapons law-abiding citizens should or should not have, has nothing to do with the law, and your intimidation tactics – as well as those of the legislators in question who colluded and conspired to bully the store’s landlord, and who tried to use their authority as government officials to bully a legitimate business out of existence – are not covered by the First Amendment.
In most states, a blatantly abusive lawsuit would be illegal. The irony is not lost that I can be sued for exercising my First Amendment rights while the owner of a gun store cannot be sued for negligence even if he knowingly sells a weapon to a mentally unstable customer who will later use it to murder innocents.
Is Ryan implying that Dennis Pratte knowingly sold weapons to prohibited persons? Prove it, or shut the fuck up, Ryan, because libelous statements are not helping your cause. And, by the way, you pernicious wart on the ass of everything that is decent, a gun store owner can be prosecuted for knowingly selling firearms to prohibited persons, and that crime is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
My constitutionally established right to freedom of speech and right to assemble have been directly attacked. I must decide whether to surrender and be silent or endanger my welfare and that of my family. And that is before we consider that my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are threatened every day by the presence of military-grade weapons in the hands of untrained or, in a worst-case scenario, violent people.
Your rights stop where others rights begin, Ryan. Your right to speak freely does not include libel. It does not include defamation. It does not include threats and intimidation. I’m going to quote attorney Daniel Hawes here, so you can better understand what this lawsuit references.
Simply put, free speech begins and ends with speech. When you take active steps to put someone out of business, that’s a crime in Virginia, even if you do it mainly by the use of words. That goes beyond “free speech”. If I can make an analogy, the fact that, in Virginia, I’ve got a perfect right to strap on a gun and walk around in public with it doesn’t give me the right to pull it out and shoot someone I don’t like. There is a point at which the privileged conduct stops and wrongful action begins. These people are not “random protesters” – they’re not protesters at all – they’re people who have communicated among themselves to effect an unlawful purpose using unlawful means. NoVa Armory is not a governmental agency, and a letter to its landlord is not “petitioning the government for a redress of grievances”. Trying to shut down that business is not an exercise in free speech.
The unlawful acts include defamation, calling NoVa Armory’s manager “gun-slinger Denny” and accusing him of being a terrorist, a liar, and a person who would sell guns to “those people” who live on the other side of the Anacostia river thereby promoting an illegal “black” market in guns and drugs. But it’s not a suit for defamation, it’s a suit for unlawfully conspiring to injure NoVa Armory in its trade or business in violation of Va. Code sections 18.2-499 and 18.2-500.
I’m assuming, Ryan, that you’re literate enough to read the lawsuit that was filed. You might want to do so before publicly whining about your beliefs being threatened. It’s not your beliefs, but your actions that caused harm to another human being, that have you named as a defendant in this suit, despite your continued efforts to pretend that you’re a victim in this scenario.
It saddens me that we live in the only industrialized country with gun-death rates equal to or greater than those of many developing countries. It saddens me that somewhere along the way, we forgot that all of our rights matter, not just those of people who want to make money by selling military-grade weapons. And it saddens me that we are being silenced into not expressing our beliefs and opposition for fear of being financially attacked, vilified and threatened by a minority of armed and aggressive neighbors.
It saddens me that in this day and age, ostensible adults 1) think that their beliefs trump others’ rights and b) think harassment and intimidation are legitimate forms of self expression.