Spokelogic supports the rights of individuals to bear arms. Now, let’s take a look at what that means…
Swimming in the mythological land of the free, or close enough to its floating boundaries, it is easy to lose track of a fundamental truth: Freedom and Responsibility are directly proportional. With increased freedom comes an equal increase in responsibility. When it’s handed to individuals, Freedom is easily snatched up and greedily stuffed into pockets. What is not immediately evident is the doubling effect of responsibility. It’s the ferryman’s levy, the wages of sin, the glory tax. Ask Faust or Robert Johnson. You don’t have to sell your soul necessarily, but if you are free to do something, you cannot do it (for long) without due consideration of how your actions affect the world around you. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are forever tethered together in balance. The rope never gets any longer, but the spaces between the three are always vying for advantage. The balancing arbiter is Responsibility, each for the other two.
So, when you are granted a right or a freedom, what you are really gaining is a responsibility. Take for example the right to bear arms; you should have that right. But remember: the right to bear arms is really the responsibility for arms borne. If truth be told, those on the “pro” side of the gun lobby should be trading their call for rights to a proclamation of responsibility. Yes, the rights should be yours, but know that when you ask you will receive responsibility in equal measure – not just individual responsibility, but a greater civic one. When a kindergarden class is strafed by an irresponsible free man, the responsibility is not his alone. And if an individual breach of responsibility can have such tragic, civic consequences it is not good enough to throw our hands up in profound despair. If a law-abiding gun owner, one fully conscious and attentive to his or her personal responsibilities is rendered impotent against a neighbour’s lack of responsibility, society must implement regulatory safeguards to ensure against our neighbour’s shortcomings.
So, how do we do this? Some recommendations:
1. Licensing with thorough background checks. If your ability to purchase on credit the most innocuous of consumer products is limited by your credit score, surely your ability to purchase a firearm should reflect an absence of anti-social, illegal, and emotionally unstable behaviour in your personal history. Any vendor of firearms or ammunition who fails to adhere to these protocols and their regulatory reporting requirements becomes criminally liable for any damage or death inflicted by their customers’ use of the vendor’s products.
2. A license is not for life. If you have to renew a driver’s license, a passport, or any other regulated right, the same should pertain to firearm ownership. If any of the personal qualifiers mentioned in Item #1 comes into question, so too should the gun owner’s right to bear arms. If ones eyesight fails, the authorities should step in to prohibit driving of a vehicle. If the right to personal transportation is not assured, surely that should extend to ones right to walk the earth on a hair trigger.
3. Buyers’ contract of legal responsibility. You own the gun. It’s in your name. You are fully responsible for its maintenance, safe keeping, proper handling, and inaccessibility by anyone but you. Should any of these conditions break down and an injury or death result, you are responsible as though you were the perpetrator up to a level equivalent to manslaughter. Owner beware: if you choose to exercise the right to own a firearm, these are the measures of responsibility. The only way these responsibilities would be lifted would be if the firearm were stolen from you, and only then if the theft was reported within a legally designated timeframe.
Death by firearms will never go away completely. By their nature and creation they ensure this. In so far as gun ownership is supported under the auspices of ones right to defend oneself, it has never been, nor should it ever be society’s responsibility to simply consign our trust to the volition behind a faceless trigger finger.
Photo Credit: Erich Ferdinand