Amendments 101

By Gabriel Wetzler

The 1st amendment states that you have a freedom of speech. Most people have a different opinion or view on what it means. Some people thinks it means you can say whatever you want. Whenever you want. Other people think your speech should be limited. For example, some people think you can walk into a crowded place and shout fire. The people who believe your speech should be limited think their should be penalties for that because people can get hurt. One of the reasons they have given U.S. citizens freedom of speech is because when there was a king you could be arrested or killed for saying something bad about the king. An example that has been current or in the past 50 years is when the Vietnam War was going on some kids used to wear bands on their arms to school. If you wore the band it meant you were against the war. The schools didn't like the idea so they made rules you couldn't wear the bands. The people argued that it was unconstitutional and it limited their freedom of speech. The people took it to the courts but before the could make a final verdict the war ended. My opinion is you should be able to say what you want as long as it doesn't cause dangers to groups of people.

The first amendment also states that you have a freedom of religion. It states that you have the right to practice any religion you want. The reason the amendment was made is because in history, their was situations where countries were killing the Jews, Muslims, and other religions because the weren't Catholic. The amendment helps people feel safe and makes them want to live in the U.S. so they can practice religion without danger. A current example was in 2011. In 2011, some Muslims were being targeted and weren't allowed to practice their religion. My opinion about the freedom of speech is everybody should be able to practice their own religion without being put in danger.
Another thing the 1st amendment also states that you have a freedom of press. The freedom of press says that you have the right to post media without the government stopping you. There are some limitations though. The government has the right to stop you from writing media that isn't true, gives away government information, or is hurtful. One of the reasons there is a freedom of press is in history, or when their was English colonies, was Churches weren't allowing authors to publish books because it spoke against the priests beliefs. A more recent issue with freedom of press was the case of Branzburg v. Hayes. In the case the Court refused to create a Constitutional right for journalists to refuse to testify when their story wan't allowed to be published. My opinion is you should be allowed to publish things unless it hurts a person or reveals government or certain individual's secrets.
The 1st amendment states that you have the freedom to assemble. It means that you can have private meetings without the government's interference. An example in history was the Continental Congress, The Continental Congress was a private meeting to overthrow the king. The king heard the meeting was to overthrow it so he stopped the meeting and tried to arrest or kill everyone for treason. a more current example was Boos vs. Barry. My opinion on freedom of assembly is you can meet without government interference.
Finally, the 1st amendment states you have the right to petition. You have the right to petition against something you don't believe in like eggplants at lunch or something bigger like a new law that was passed. An example of a petition in history was when the Continental Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition to the king asking to become their own country. A more recent example of a petition was in a town the people were mad because there was a water slide and people were getting hurt. The petition said they shut down the water slide. My opinion is you should be able to petition something only if it is unfair or harmful.

The Second Amendment- The Right to Bear Arms

The second amendment says that you have the right to bear arms. Having the right to bear arms means you can own, or possess, a gun. Many people have different opinions on the second amendment. Some people think you should be allowed to have guns for safety or for hunting purposes. Other people think it is not safe and think you should not be allowed to have a gun no matter what the cause. My opinion is you shouldn't be allowed to have guns more powerful than what the army uses. A current situation where there was gun control problems was in Colorado. At a movie theater, a man left in the middle of a movie and left the exit door open. He went to his car and got a bunch of powerful guns. He went back in the theater and killed a bunch of people. People think you shouldn't be able to own guns because of situations like that. A situation in history with guns was the king was shooting people.