Presidential hopeful Donald Trump recently gave a speech that created a firestorm, as many people said he had tried to incite violence -- with the target of that violence being Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton, his rival in the race for the White House. Had he incited violence, he could have been charged with a felony, so these were serious accusations. However, by the letter of the law, many experts believe he didn't do anything to warrant those charges.
The controversial statement that Trump made is as follows:
"[Clinton] wants to abolish...essentially abolish the Second Amendment...If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Those who said that Trump broke the law say that the implication is clear. He's telling those who strongly support the right to bear arms that maybe there is "something" they can do if Clinton is elected and gets to pick her own judges. It's not hard to imagine what that "something" is, though he never comes out and says it.
Why Experts Feel It's Not a Crime
By implying that gun owners may need to use violence against his opposition, it appears clear that he's giving that course of action a nod. However, he's not technically inciting violence because the courts have ruled that there needs to be a more immediate call for the violence in order for the law to be broken.
The precedent set comes from a case known as Brandenburg v. Ohio, where a speech seemingly advocating potential violence was given at a small KKK meeting. In that case, the court stated that advocacy of violence wasn't criminal in and of itself, except in circumstances where it was used to promote imminent lawless action.
Had Trump directly asked for people to take violent action right then, he could have been given felony charges. By noting that perhaps there was "something" gun owners could do at an unspecified future date, he skirted the violation.
Free Speech and Violence
This important event reveals ties between free speech and the right to discuss violence under current laws. There can be a lot of gray area regarding what can be said and what crosses the line, so it's important for people to know their rights if accused of saying something that breaks the law.
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