The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. Anyone can say whatever they wish, without government interference. A basic truth, not stated in the Amendment, is you are free to say what you wish, but you are responsible for what you say. The popular example is shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. You can be prosecuted for the damage it causes. Another proof of the responsibility for what you say involves saying something that damages a person or a person’s reputation. In short, freedom of speech does not free you from being responsible for your words.

Many people believe the Second Amendment gives people the right to bear arms (i.e., own a weapon). The missing link is not holding the weapon owner responsible for their weapon. Responsibility means civil and criminal responsibility. The Sandy Hook School shooter used his mother’s weapon. She is free to own the weapon, but not morally free to make her weapon available to her mentally unstable son. She was negligent with a lethal weapon, yet she goes scot free and without even criticism. She and other people, who want to own weapons, must be held responsible for their weapon’s use.

We must do everything possible to insure those that own weapons secure them from unauthorized use. That means a weapon owner must keep it or vital parts of the mechanism “locked-up.” The best control would involve licensing people to own weapons and registering each weapon owned to that owner. It therefore follows that people not stable enough to be responsible (i.e., use a weapon responsibly), should not be given the privilege of a license. Also, I would not license a criminal. Licensing is called for, but not essential to the principle of responsibility.

The fact that millions of guns are now in the hands of unknown people is not a reason to disregard instituting proper rules— responsibility. Time will bring compliance and people will apply for licenses because they generally desire to be law abiding! The fines that are levied on non-licensed weapon owners will convince non-compliers to comply. There is better control of the selling new weapons, because they legally would be saleable only to license holders.

Licensed or not, the owner must be responsible for negligence in securing their arm, gun and weapon from unauthorized use. Holding people responsible for exercising free speech is not an attack on the Amendment. It is logical. Holding people responsible for their weapon is not an attack on the Amendment. It is logical.

Rights also imply responsibility. The automobile is a good example. You must be licensed to use one and if you own one, you are responsible for its use. Surely automobiles are less lethal than guns.

Related Posts