The Privilege of Right

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.

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2 thoughts on “The Privilege of Right

  1. Absolutely right! With freedom, there must be responsibility. I agree that mental health does have its own issues but I think that over the past fifty or so years responsibility and accountability have declined to such a degree that we have rampant crime as a result. If we were to set the example of “being responsible” and hold our children to that same standard, we might be able to create a positive change. Responsibility would have to be part of the core make up of ALL of our activities, not just gun ownership.

  2. Responsibility is not a word well liked in this society. The concept that rights are privileges is a hard sell when people will not take responsibility for their own actions.

    I am coming to the conclusion that random shootings, political hostage taking (as in government shut down) are signs of the basic instability of our form of government. For 200 years we have had the ‘best game in town.’ But it has also taken 200 years for people to throw off values, morals, absolutes, ethics and get to the point where they feel FREE to be who they heck they think they are. We want to say religion is to blame for all that is judgmental in society but one thing that the ‘fear’ that so many religions taught did accomplish was to minimize extreme acts of aggression against fellow citizens. And having thrown off religion, having thrown off absolutes (It’s wrong to spray bullets into a …… fill in the blank) there’s nothing to reign those behaviors back into line.

    I’m eager to hear how anyone is going to put the genie back in the bottle.

    Cheers,
    Peter
    A retired photographer looks at life from behind an RV steering wheel.
    Life Unscripted

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