Saturday, January 26, 2013
A recent letter writer suggested restricting access to guns would lead to restricting other constitutional rights.
His warning is a little late. All our rights are already restricted. Without some system of restrictions we would be living in anarchy.
I grew up with the saying, “Your rights end where another’s rights begin.” In other words, no right is absolute and totally free.
For example, we have the right of free speech, but it is illegal to threaten to kill someone. We have freedom of the press, but we cannot libel or slander others. We have freedom of religion, but children are protected if their parents’ religious practices threaten the child’s well-being. We have the freedom to assemble, but not to block the road if we don’t have a parade permit.
Another writer pointed out that automobile crashes cause more deaths than guns, which is a great comparison. We have millions of cars in the U.S. They are being used constantly, often with multiple people in them. It is amazing more people don’t die from car crashes.
It is even more amazing that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control shows motor-vehicle deaths have dropped 22 percent. And why is that? Because our “freedom of mobility” is being controlled and restricted. We have to limit our speed. We have to stop at red lights. We can’t drink and drive. Manufacturers are required to install airbags.
We also have millions of guns in the U.S. They are used rarely because we are safe from criminals (violent crime has dropped significantly); hunting season is limited; and we aren’t in the middle of a revolution.
Nonetheless, unlike vehicle fatalities, gun fatalities (including mass murders, suicides, homicides and accidents) are increasing. In fact, by 2015, gun deaths are expected to surpass motor-vehicle deaths (CDC data). The logical conclusion is that we should register and control guns, like we do cars, to reduce gun deaths.
Finally, Japan has the strictest gun control laws, and the lowest gun ownership per capita, but the government is not repressing its citizens. They have a working democracy and a capitalist economy. A recent Gallup Poll shows the Japanese are about as happy as U.S. citizens.
Thus, the rational restriction of gun rights does not pose a threat to our freedoms, our system of government or our way of life.