Examiner Sunday Reflection contributor Glenn Harlan Reynolds – aka the cyber guru behind Instapundit.com and author of “An Army of Davids” – tells of a revealing incident that occurred recently in Washington, D.C.’s historic Union Station:
“Here’s how bad it has gotten: Not long ago, an Amtrak representative did an interview with local TV station Fox 5 in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station to explain that you don’t need a permit to take pictures there–only to be approached by a security guard who ordered them to stop filming without a permit.”
How bad has what gotten, you ask? Your right to take photographs in public, that’s what. Reynolds’ anecdote is part of his piece in the latest edition of Popular Mechanics making the case that “taking pictures in public places is not a crime.”
That clicking the shutter in public is not a crime will come as news to a disturbingly large body of public officials, which is why Reynolds’ piece is well worth your reading. It highlights an aspect of the growing assaults on First Amendment rights that normally gets little attention.
“Legally, it’s pretty much always okay to take photos in a public place as long as you’re not physically interfering with traffic or police operations,” Reynolds writes. “But this doesn’t stop people from interfering with photographers, even in settings that don’t seem much like national-security zones.”
It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the War on Terrorism and passage of the Patriot Act, which does NOT limit your right to use your camera in public. The problem is a lot of people who ought to know better think the law gives them the right to stop you from using your camera.
You can read the entire Reynolds piece here. As Glenn would say, just keep scrolling.