Jim Sleeper and Daniel J.H. Greenwood: To Stop Gun Violence, We Need to Remember We Can Regulate Corporate Speech and Advertising

tags: guns, gun control, The Atlantic, Jim Sleeper, Daniel J.H. Greenwood, Citizens United, corporate speech



Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in Political Science at Yale, is a former New York Daily News columnist and the author of The Closest of Strangers. Daniel J.H. Greenwood, professor of law at Hofstra, writes on corporate governance and coauthored a brief in the Citizens United case.

The Obama Administration's gun-control agenda is unlikely to prevail unless it's accompanied by a wrenching national struggle on two fronts: re-thinking the "well regulated" part of the Second Amendment, and curbing paid corporate gun glorification that undermines "free" speech under the First Amendment. As the president said in his inaugural address, we must re-impose rules of fair play on markets.

National Rifle Association vice-president Wayne LaPierre was right to charge that violent video-games such as Doom and Call of Duty seed social storms of fear and mistrust with gladiatorial spectacles that have been virtual instruction manuals for mass shooters in Colorado, Connecticut and Norway, who were inveterate players of those games.

But LaPierre didn't note that game producers had "a mutually beneficial marketing relationship" with the very gun manufacturers that support his own NRA. As the New York Times reported, the games' pictures of real guns come with embedded links to sales sites. Commercial speech like that can be regulated without violating the First Amendment.

Most of these games' content isn't free "speech" at all. Only the Supreme Court's confusion of free speech with anything that profit-driven corporations pay anyone to say or depict makes it seem otherwise. Regulating some games' marketing -- or even content -- would not suppress speech that a republic should protect....



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