I have been following and thinking about the ongoing and often rancorous gun control debate for more than a year now, but I have purposefully resisted writing more about it not quite sure where or how to add my voice. But it was this article which pushed me to finally risk writing what I have been thinking.
The gun control debate focuses largely on rights.
My right to own a gun.
My right to own any type of gun I want.
My right to not have my guns registered or limited in any way.
But it seems to me rights which apply to all of us are always more nuanced than just my rights.
First, my rights always stand side-by-side with your rights.
And those two rights are sometimes at odds or in tension with one another.
Both rights – yours and mine – need to be not only protected, but understood and honored and upheld. If your insistence on your rights denies my rights both of us have already lost.
Second, rights always walk hand in hand with responsibility.
The right to own a gun means to store it and use it responsibly.
The right to free speech means speaking clearly and forcibly and courageously, but not slandering or lying about another.
The right to drive a car down the road comes with the responsibility of knowing the rules, learning to drive, passing a test and not drinking and driving.
Do some abuse both rights and responsibility?
Yes…and sometimes tragically so.
But, when that happens we name what occurred and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
We make laws stricter.
We make cars safer.
We clarify which speech is allowable and what type of speech is not.
We need to address the right to own and use a gun in the very same way because if me and mine becomes the only vantage point from which we live, act, think or respond, we face a long, rough,destructive road ahead.