When you think of America, you are supposed to think of the American Dream: the ability to be who and what you want and to be able to do anything you want with no restrictions!
However, none of that seems to be the case. Especially when it comes to the things that Americans can do. Heck, even our Bill of Rights has its restrictions and none of them without good reason!
When we talk about rights at large in a society, the discussion is always about negotiation. It always has been whenever people came together. We must be willing to give something up in order to gain something.
Usually these negotiations are codified in laws. For example, we want to be able to live next to people, in large numbers, and participate in commerce and culture exchange. We know that conflict will arise, but this is the situation we want so we say, “Okay, when conflict does arise, we can not murder, we can not assault, we can not destroy property” and so on and so forth.
These are abstract limits placed on our behavior. In other words, there is nothing to stop us from actually committing those acts.
Now, all of that had to be said to say this: Our rights are also a negotiation from that same conversation.
Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr. is quoted as saying, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” Another apt saying concerning our rights covers the First Amendment, that one cannot “falsely [shout] fire in a crowded theater.” We also owe this quote to Holmes.
In the modern day, our arguments and negotiations tend to be over the Second Amendment. Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that assault weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment. The ruling came after two citizens of Maryland sued the state for its ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. This is the fifth time that a federal court has upheld a states right to limit or ban certain firearms.
Closer to home, Tennessee lawmakers have proposed allowing students at public colleges and universities to carry firearms, according to the Johnson City Press. These proposals come one year after the law that allowed faculty members to conceal-carry on campus.
Here we have two radically different examples of how gun politics are playing out in this country. On one hand you have a tightening of regulations, and on the other a more lax take.
These conversations have important implications for all of us. From The Guardian: “In the US, more than 10,000 Americans will likely be killed in gun murders this year. Another 20,000 will likely be lost to gun suicide. The total number of gun deaths and violent injuries will be close to 100,000.”
What does that mean for our negotiation? For me, it tells us we need to discuss mental health, we need to discuss gun safety, we need to discuss gun training, we need to discuss anger management, and we need to discuss gun regulation. I do not have all the answers for the gun question, but I know that we must have the conversation now.