[Baltimore Sun] First Amendment concerns over gun safety pamphlet are valid | READER COMMENTARY

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In a recent letter to the editor, (“Gun dealers show ‘gleeful indifference’ to safety,” Nov. 26), Jim Giza criticizes local firearm dealers for resisting Anne Arundel County’s requirement to distribute suicide prevention literature with firearm purchases. I think that the writer is excessively dismissive of the First Amendment concerns associated with this situation. In this case, he approves of the government message and disapproves of the people who are being forced to deliver it. But it should not require too much imagination on his part to conceive of a scenario in which those conditions are reversed.

With rare exception, the First Amendment should shield private parties from being compelled participants in government speech. For the protection of all citizens from government coercion, this principle should not be altered simply because a particular instance of government speech is well-intentioned.

— Bradford Sharpless, Reisterstown

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