“It’s my right, you can’t take my rights away from me”
So goes the defensive cry of thousands who are upset with the anti-gun rallies taking place in the US following the Florida shooting last week.
But really, all I can think every time I hear this is:
So. F**king. What?
Saying you should be able to own a gun because “It’s my right” is not an argument.
That is just clarifying the current state of affairs.
Most people are not debating whether or not you have the right to own a gun**.
Just because you currently have the right to do something though it doesn’t necessarily follow that you should have that right.
People can be wrong. And we have been wrong numerous times before in the past. The second amendment was passed in 1791. That’s a LONG fricken time ago.
You know what was also cool in 1791?
Yup, owning slaves was a legal right back when it was decided people should have the right to bear arms.
“In 1842, the novelist Charles Dickens, on a book tour of the United States… listened with a mixture of horror and contempt as Americans defended their utterly indefensible “rights” to tote guns and carry Bowie knives, right along with their “right” to own other human beings who could be shackled, whipped, raped, and mutilated at will…
… keeping slaves was defended as a Constitutional right with the same vehemence that we hear today when it comes to keeping and bearing arms, and perhaps with more foundation.”
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY for The Daily Beast
I’m not America bashing here, we did the same thing in the UK in 1791 too. In April 1791 William Wilberforce tried to enforce a bill in parliament to abolish the slave trade but we were still so attached to our “right” to own slaves at the time that it was defeated.
In a lot of countries people had the right to own slaves in 1791.
That doesn’t meant anyone should have had the right to own slaves.
Just because something is someone’s “right”, i.e. they have a legal entitlement to do so, it doesn’t mean it’s actually correct that they do.
We have been wrong about a lot of things in the past.
We were very wrong about whether people should have had the right to own slaves. So much so that slavery was declared a violation of global human rights in 1948 by the UN.
Why should the right to bear arms be exempt from such scrutiny?
If you own a gun, think it’s ok for average citizens to own guns or are a staunch defender of the second amendment, ask yourself why? Why is it that you care about having that right and think that you need it? What benefit does that right actually give you?
Are those answers worth the harm that right has already caused and will probably cause again in the future?
None of the reasons I’ve heard anyone voice so far even come close to justifying the potential harm of defending that right. The most frequently cited reasons being:
1. It’s in the constitution. If you take away this right what’s to say you won’t take away others
The right to bear arms has been taken away in a lot of countries before without other rights just randomly being retracted too. There is no evidence to suggest that in deciding that actually we shouldn’t have a specific right, because it causes harm, that other rights will be taken away.
Unless other rights were also deemed to be causing harm there would be no reason to change them as well.
Someone isn’t just playing eeny meeny miny mo and picking rights to take away at random. The right to bear arms is doing active harm to the American population therefore it would make logical sense to take it away to protect the freedom of the American people.
“I know the Forefathers said you had a right to own a gun, but they also said you could own people … the Constitution is a lot like our grandfather. He’s wise, we love him, and he means well. But, he’s getting really, really old and every once in a while he says something crazy and we gotta go to the other room and discuss what we’re gonna do about him.”
Michael Che on SNL
2. We need this right to be able to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government
Look I can understand why you all are a little more worried about that than normal at the moment with the giant Cheeto in office, I would be too, but those of you who own guns, ask yourselves honestly is this the real reason you own them or think you need to own them nowadays? Yes, to be able to protect yourself from a tyrannical government was one of the original reasons the right was granted in the first place but that was written less than 10 years after the American Revolutionary War making it a very pertinent concern at the time.
How much of that is a real life concern that you actually have, on a daily basis, now?
There are certainly a lot of other countries out there that no longer have the right to bear arms but who haven’t been over thrown by tyrannical governments as a result.
3. To protect myself
I agree to a large extent with the desire to have a gun for protection. If I were living in a country where almost anyone could get themselves a gun in 10 minutes then I would probably feel like I needed a gun in order to be able to protect myself too. Let’s face it without one I wouldn’t stand a chance up against another gun.
But that misses the point. If the right to own a gun were taken away then guns wouldn’t be what you would have to protect yourself from in most instances if attacked.
You can tell me that you don’t think stricter gun control (or getting rid of the right to bear arms) will stop gun violence. And of course it won’t stop ALL gun violence but in places like the United Kingdom, Australia, a lot of Europe and Japan to name a few, where it is much harder to get a gun, the incidences of mass shootings and gun violence in general are much lower.
Of course certain criminals still get their hands on guns but only the most dedicated ones. It’s so difficult to get a gun the average criminal just uses weapons more readily at their disposal. And while I don’t want to be stabbed with a knife any more than I want to be shot with a gun at least harm can only really be inflicted on one or two people at a time and the person using the weapon has to be much more skilled if using a knife.
How much harm would the shooter have caused in the Florida shooting if all they had was a knife instead?
Or how different would the attack in Las Vegas have been if the perpetrator had only had a knife?
A knife being used instead of a gun wouldn’t have stopped these tragic events taking place but the number of people injured and killed would certainly have been greatly reduced.
By stopping people from having easy access to guns the amount of damage that can be done in a short space of time is greatly reduced. That leaves more time for law enforcement to arrive to apprehend the perpetrator and more chance of people being able to fight back and defend themselves. It would also make it less likely that people without any form of combat training, i.e. your average Joe, would think they can pull off a large-scale attack.
If there is any chance that you giving up your “inalienable right” to own a gun could save even one child’s life wouldn’t that be worth it? What negative impact on your life could giving up that right possible have to make it out weigh the potential benefit of saving a child?
While I strongly believe the only true solution is to get rid of access to all guns for civilians this is at least a very good start and full respect to this man for doing something that is so counter to his other strongly held beliefs.
Mental illness did not cause the Florida shooting or the Las Vegas shooting or the Orlando massacre, access to guns did. There are mentally disturbed people in all countries in the world but in those with strict gun control they still don’t have shootings like these. That’s because people don’t have access to the guns to carry them out.
Neither did a lack of teachers being armed cause the Florida shooting or any of the other similar high school attacks. In a lot of countries where there are little to no school shootings the teachers aren’t armed. The shootings just don’t take place because the kids can’t get their hands on the guns in the first place.
Access to guns causes these tragedies.
Whether or not there are responsible gun owners is irrelevant. If there are ANY irresponsible gun owners would it not be worth it, for the greater good of your country, to take away access to all to be safe?
Are there really any benefits you get from owning a gun that are greater than the right children should have to go to school without fear of death, or of people to go to a concert or a nightclub and feel safe?
Just because it’s your right to own a gun it doesn’t mean it should be.