If a person who is clearly mentally disturbed threatens to kill someone, can such a statement be used to get appropriate authorities to intervene?
The First Amendment properly gives the broadest protection to citizens’ speech. As such, Courts and most other authorities are reluctant to intervene solely based on such a threat, which has not been demonstrated as serious by some real action.
Consequently the Second Amendment interacts with the First Amendment in a very dangerous way. Because courts have generally interpreted the Second Amendment as permitting essentially unregulated gun ownership, it is nearly impossible to determine what threats are credible and actionable. Almost anyone can buy a gun for any reason. So far it has been very difficult to argue that buying a gun is the sort of action by itself to make a threat credible enough for the government to act.
The consequence of this “somewhat” hidden interaction between these two vital constitutional rights is that threats alone tend to be treated with kid gloves despite obvious risks.
Perhaps the time has come to deal with this increasingly serious problem by clearing up the historical mistake that is an integral part of the Second Amendment.
It is widely known and accepted today that the Second Amendment was intended primarily to enable an armed citizen militia, which was necessary because the army that won the Revolutionary War had to get back to normal life and work. Today we have a large standing army and basically no longer rely on anything like standby militia.
Courts have long been reluctant to take that point head on. With well over 2/3 of the population now in favor of gun control, perhaps this might be a good time to fix the Second Amendment to clarify this basic long standing misunderstanding.
The Constitution must be made explicitly clear that ALL military-style, rapid-fire weapons are NOT covered by the Second Amendment. This same interpretation already applies to tanks, airplanes, and other weapons of potential mass destruction.
If things ever get to the point that citizens at large could own military hardware, the consequences would be too grave to imagine.