Today the U.S. experienced another dreadful gun-related tragedy, this time in the Naval Yard in Washington, DC. They are reporting that thirteen people, including a shooter (and there may have been more than one), were killed when Aaron Alexis opened fire from above.
My sincerest, and most heart-felt prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and with the people who witnessed the disaster that will face the inevitable after-effects of crises.
Mass gun violence is growing, it seems, and as weapons technology increases, incidents become more catastrophic. However, is this all attributed simply to gun technology? Is this all because of mental health support crumbling? I would argue that it also has to do with an erosion of the concept of “right.”
I consider the rights given to us by our Constitution to be highly privileged. These are rights which were hard-fought, and people lost life, love, and limb in order to secure them for future generations. We all – every one of us in this country, regardless of background, race, religion, sex, gender, all of us – have the right to certain privileges under our Constitution: free speech, bearing arms, electing leaders, the list goes on. However, many of these rights have been stripped of the concept of privilege in recent times.
Yes, you have the right to an entire arsenal of weapons if you pass state-mandated background checks. But do you respect the privilege that entails? It takes on a set of responsibilities. You are responsible for those weapons, and you are responsible for the lives that they may take. You cannot simply cling to your conviction that “The Second Amendment says that I can do this.” It shows a lack of respect for those that fought to secure for you the right to defend yourself and to hunt for yourself, should you choose.
This doesn’t take into account mental instability, this is true, but the stigma and fear associated with mental health, and the reluctance for people to speak up when they have concerns about another being, is another story entirely. But if you want to own a gun for protection, for hunting, or for simple sport, please remember this is a privileged right. This is a right given to you with the trust that you will do honorably, and will uphold the spirit with which the amendment was written. That is to give people responsibility for their own actions in their own lives. If you act without this responsibility and without regard for your own actions or their consequences, then the so-called “Great American Experiment” will inevitably fail.
The outcome is in your hands. And mine. And I trust you to uphold your end even as I do my best to uphold mine.