Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that suggest more and more Americans are encountering problems when trying to exercise their 1st amendment right to freedom of speech and expression.
In Westmoreland, Tennessee, a sheriff’s deputy came across a window sticker on a car. He deemed it ‘obscene,’ and promptly gave a citation to the driver.
This move was not taken well by the driver, who claimed that getting cited for displaying a sticker that portrayed guns was a violation of his first amendment right.
Nicholas Ennis’ pickup truck showcased a green sticker on the side. The sticker featured an M-16, which was followed by two letters and an AK-47 with the words “gun control” written below it. According to Ennis, the AK-47 did not symbolize the F word.
He told News 2, “I mean… not to me… looking at it, no. You wouldn’t be able to tell. It was made that way so it wouldn’t be vulgar, so I wouldn’t get in trouble for it, but they’re saying it is.”
When the Summer County Sheriff’s deputy came across Ennis’ sticker, he used the Tennessee law that prohibits “obscene or patently offensive bumper stickers, window signs, etc.,” as the basis for issuing the citation.
Ennis stated that he had the sticker on his car for about a year, and that his cousin’s boyfriend had two of them on his jeep.
“Why is it, I’ve had it on there, no other officer has said anything but him?” he asked.
Speaking to News 2, Sam Monaghan said, “I don’t see an F or K on there at all, I see two guns.”
Ennis added, “I feel like I was singled out and it’s going against my first amendment right for freedom of speech.”
The Summer County Sheriff maintains that the sticker does display the F word, and that the citation was not a violation of Ennis’ rights. He also maintained that an officer could issue a warning or a ticket based on their own discretion.
When asked about the meaning of the sticker, Ennis stated, “I don’t believe in gun control. You know, everybody should have the right to bear arms.”
He added, “Kids can’t determine, a minor can’t determine if it’s an F or a K, they just see guns.”
Tennessee law states that the ticket amount should not exceed $50, which Ennis is unwilling to pay. Instead, he stated that he would find a lawyer to help him fight the ticket. He also maintained that he would not remove the sticker from his car.