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 your words cause. In short, freedom of speech does not free you from being responsible for the consequences of your words.
Many people believe the Second Amendment gives people the right to bear arms. The missing link is not holding the weapon owner responsible for the use of their weapon. Responsibility means civil and/or criminal responsibility. The Sandy Hook School shooter used his mother’s weapon. He was not stable mentally but the mother was stable and therefore she was free to own the weapon. However, she was not morally free to store her weapon so it was available to her mentally unstable son. Her negligence with her lethal weapon was the basic cause of many deaths. Not a word of criticism of her was heard even though her irresponsibility caused the death of so many very young children.
The National Rifle Association is correct! Guns don’t kill people. People (using guns) kill people.
However, they propose nothing and oppose everything to keep weapons from those who should not have them. Our job must be to prevent criminals and mentally unstable people from getting guns. It is simply a logical step that we must take to make guns unavailable to unstable or criminal people. A recent event reminds us that we must also keep guns away from children, who mistakenly think a gun is a toy and may not understand a gun is a lethal weapon.
There are 2 things we must do to stop the slaughter of innocent children, women, and men. First, we must sell guns to only noncriminal and stable people. Second we must hold gun owners responsible for the use of weapon(s) they own.
We have controlled who can use and who is responsible for an automobile. We have done that 50 times (i.e., every state) in this country and it works. The same procedure that works for automobiles will work for guns. Licensing gun owners and registering each gun to an owner will work. That would eventually result in only responsible people owning weapons and society holding them responsible for their weapon’s use. Certainly guns are more lethal than automobiles. How dumb is it to control automobiles and drivers and not control guns and their owners?
The fact that millions of guns are now in the hands of unknown people is not a reason to disregard instituting proper rules—responsibility going forward. Time will bring near universal compliance. People will apply for licenses because they generally are law abiding! When the Federal Beef Inspection Act of 1906 was enacted, the fact that there were hundreds of farmers selling beef without inspection did not negate the need for healthy beef entering the market and the health regulations becoming universal going forward.
The opposition to gun registration and owner licensing or a similar scheme is even more irresponsible than owners who leave their guns unlocked and make the guns easy for the young, for criminals and for unstable people to obtain. People carefully lock their automobiles but leave their guns around in a basement or closet. It is shameful! The cost of registering and licensing should be recovered from the license fee and registration fee. Not wanting to pay a fee for controlling weapons owned is an invalid reason and an excuse for opposing responsibility. You need a license for using a fishing rod, but not for a gun. How ridiculous can we get?
Under the plan described above, guns would only be saleable to a licensed gun owner regardless of who is selling it (i.e., dealer, organization, or individual). If a gun is given or sold to an unlicensed person, the legal liability for the gun’s use would not be transferred. If the gun owner does not secure the gun or vital operating parts reasonably well, the registered owner will be held responsible for its use.
We hear lots of noise regarding the type of gun (e.g., AK-47) that should not be available to citizens but I personally think that is a separate and less vital issue. If you want to own cannon, I could care less as long as you have a license and assume responsibility for the cannon’s use.
The suggestion of having armed guards in all schools is a highly impractical method to stop the killing. Should we post armed guards in theaters, stadiums, libraries, and every place groups of people gather. Further, treating the symptom is never effective. You must deal with the source of the problem—gun users and ownership.
If the above control plan or another effective plan that accomplishes the objectives of restricting who can legally own a weapon and who is legally responsible for its use is not adopted, the status quo—killing innocent people—will continue out-of-control.
If we hold people responsible for their words in the face of the First Amendment and thereby do no harm to the First Amendment, then holding people responsible for the guns, arms, and weapons they bear under the Second Amendment, does not harm the Second Amendment. It is logical!
Guns (by themselves) don’t kill people. People kill people. That is why we must control those who are allowed to own guns and they must accept responsibility for the guns they own.
Rights imply responsibility when exercising those rights!