So much have been discussed and written about it but the right to bear arms has always been a right to most Americans (I say most because there are a few I read who are opposed to it), for as long as it is an acknowledged right and enshrined in the American Constitution. And with that legal mandate, it is not for me to discuss the merits or demerits of that right.
I do not intend either to have a lengthy treatise on this. I just like to drive a point here because I think it is so important to discuss people’s safety especially when they are about the lives of innocent kids.
Basically, there are two kinds of rights: one is inherent right as in for example “the right to life” and the other is acquired right, such as “the right to bear arms”, among others. By implication inherent right is non-negotiable while acquired right can be revoked when it is doing more harm than good. I am not saying it is, for now. Maybe, not yet.
However, the right to bear arms is one thing and responsible gun ownership is another thing. Traditionally, we look at responsible gun owners as those who had passed the neuro-psychiatric tests and complied with other requirements. Let’s face the hard truth: it is not until a gun owner had demonstrated recklessness (like Adam Lanza’s mother) that we can tell a gun owner is irresponsible. It was utter irresponsibility when Mrs. Lanza – who knew more than anyone on earth that her son was unstable and yet gave him access to her guns which allowed him to commit the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School with ease and impunity. She also paid that tragic mistake with her own life! She would have lived to witness all of it and killed herself anyway.
The next hard truth: we can no longer disarm the gun owners in America. If only there is a way to do that, I would go for a gunless society. But that is next to impossible. Living with that reality, the more practical option is to arm the school guards and train them. In the Philippines, we do not call them guards at all if they do not carry guns; they may just be traffic aides or sentries in some parlor games.
It may be true that guns don’t kill people; it is people killing people. But those maniacal murderers could not have done it more effectively without the aid of automatic firing rifles; or it would have been a lot different if they were met by armed guards before they enter school gates and premises. Yet, this arming-the-guards option is met with so much opposition. Their protest was: “allow more guns around and you have allowed more killings”.
This prompted the National Rifle Association (NRA) to put forward this question: “Why is it that when guns are used to protect the President (and other high profile politicians), it is good; but when used to protect our kids, it is bad?” This line of thinking may resonate with those parents who lost their kids in this latest shooting spree in schools. Some parents may already be thinking that force should be met with force. But someone said (was it Dr. Martin Luther King?) “Fire cannot be put out by fire, but water; hate cannot be cured by hate, but love”.
I say: please continue discussing children’s safety, or everybody else for that matter. The safety of children cannot be compromised in politics. It is a neutral issue. It cannot be delayed any further.
Given all the pros and cons, there are always two sides of the coin to every issue. But while the debate rages on, the safety of the kids is an everyday concern. May I therefore put forward an unsolicited recommendation: What about selective gun ownership? For example, qualified citizens (by qualified, I mean those who have been tested and proven credible and responsible enough to own a gun) may only be allowed to own semi-automatic hand guns instead of full automatic firing rifles. This was also hinted by some people who had thought of a win-win solution between the NRA and its critics.
Well, I am sure the U.S. authorities have some solutions already in the bag. They had been there, done that. It’s just a matter of showing mettle and meat.