I struggle with gun control because, while I don’t like guns, I don’t like anyone’s fundamental liberties being taken more.
I am against the Patriot Act and indefinite detentions and the existence of Guantanamo Bay’s prison. These were and continue to be seen as necessary to protect Americans. We are told that we must give up some of our freedoms to win the “war on terror.”
But I would rather my home blow up than not have due process. I believe the price of losing my freedom to not be jailed for no reason or for reasons I’m not allowed to know is worse the another terrorist attack. Our ideals must be upheld or what are we defending?
When I first think of guns, I wonder: What does everyone feel like they need protection from in our country? What is the point of a handgun except to hurt another human being? And a civilian owning an automatic weapon seems ridiculous. I know the statistics on how more guns do not decrease violence, how many legally obtained guns end up in the wrong hands whether by theft, straw purchases or lax regulations, and how much more likely a child is to die when a handgun is in the home.
I also love humanity, but I wonder if we can truly keep people from hating other people or from being mentally ill. Yes, we can promote diversity, but is that enough to change hate? Yes, we can better our health system, but our understanding and treatment of mental health is far from desirable when, for example, the side effects of the medications most often prescribed to those with psychosis include drooling and feeling nothing.
Our alternative to changing people’s hearts and minds is to ban guns. Or make guns very difficult to obtain. Just as we cannot stop car accidents but we can put measures in to minimize the destructions such as speed limits and seat belts, we can control guns much easier than we can control people. So perhaps we can put in some restrictions to minimize how available automatic weapons are or how much ammunition a person can purchase.
But I want to be careful. Because much of the reasoning behind gun control is similar to the reasoning behind the Patriot Act. Or why people were locked away in mental institutions forever. Or why the American prison population is the largest in the world.
We pay a price for freedom. The cost is jury duty to give us all a fair trial. The cost is listening to hate to give us all freedom of speech. The cost may be another bomb or a convicted felon who rapes again or a family shot on a picnic to give us no cruel punishments, due process, and the right to bear arms.
Are we willing to pay for our liberties? The question of gun control boils down to whether guns are a right. If they are, we have to uphold them whether we want to or even understand why guns mattered to our Founding Fathers and to people today. But in doing that, those who defend gun rights must also defend all the rights outlined in our Constitution such as separation church and state, those cast aside in this supposed “war on terror” or even those missing in our everyday understanding of our prison system. We cannot pick and choose which ones we think matter to us or to our political parties.