Yesterday’s sit-in by House Democrats was an impressive display of the power of Periscope and Facebook Video, and it certainly got a lot of publicity, but it’s not going to change anything as long as Republicans hold the majority in both houses of Congress. They’ll do anything to avoid endangering the flow of funds they receive from the NRA.

One of their favorite arguments against any sort of gun safety legislation is that it’s akin to abolishing the Second Amendment when it’s not actually about revoking the right of Americans to be armed, but modifying it.

If I interviewed any of the pro-gun legislators — which is not going to happen — I’d first ask about why it’s okay to legislate limits on the First Amendment, but not the Second. What kind of limits am I talking about? Addressing only the free speech clause of the First Amendment, here are four examples:

  • When I do a radio show, I work in a federally licensed facility where it is against the law for me to say certain words.
  • If I were to name you as a pedophile without proof, you could sue me for defamation and slander (or libel, if I did it on this site).
  • You can’t advocate the assassination of the president without violating federal laws and earning a visit from the Secret Service.
  • You can’t stand up in the gallery of the House Of Representatives and start giving your own speech while Congress is in session without being removed and subject to arrest.

If the First Amendment is open to such modifications, why isn’t the Second Amendment malleable enough to allow universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons?