Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rights VS Responsibilities

RIP victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre.

source: AP...

First of all, I want to point out that I'm not an American and that some people might not like what I have to say, and they might think that I don't have the right to voice my opinion because I am not an American and I was not affected by the tragedy at Newtown earlier this week. 

But I was affected by it. Every person on this Earth was affected by this. When something this huge happens, even if it's only in one small corner of the world, it still affects us all. Because we are all people. And as people we are, or at least should be affected by what happens to other people. 

I do concede, however, that I don't know everything there is to know about the Second Amendment, that is the right to keep and bear arms. If I have any points wrong can you please let me know in the comments. 

What I do want to discuss here is the difference between rights and responsibilities. Some people might not see the difference and they get them confused. But there is a distinct difference between things we are owed (rights) and things we owe (responsibilities). 

A great example of the differences is education. In Australia I had the right to an education. It was not only expected and encouraged that I go to school, but it was against the law for my parents to keep me home (unless I was getting home-schooled). While that was my right, it was my responsibility to use that education to the benefit of not only myself, but to my family and the wide community. At the very least, I had the responsibility to pay attention in class and not to be a distraction or disruption to others who were learning. Part of my responsibility was to not obstruct others in their right to an education. 

In America, people have the right to keep and have guns. But don't the owners of these guns also have responsibilities? Some of these responsibilities are law, such as how to properly house these guns and how they can carry them in public. But shouldn't there be other responsibilities by gun owners, such as not using the gun when you're angry or in a similar heightened state of emotion, or only using the gun for the purposes of self defence or target practice, not to scare someone or to win an argument?

Every time I get in my car I think, I could kill someone. No, this isn't me on some sort of power trip, but a fact. I could aim my car directly at another person and cause their death. I could neglect to stop at a stop sign or red light and crash into another car or a pedestrian. I could fail to pay attention when giving way, or I could be distracted by sending a text message, or I could be under the influence of any number of drugs and I could kill someone. And while I don't have the right to drive my car I have the responsibility as a driver to not kill someone. As a motorist I am aware of the damage I could inflict by doing the above so I stop when I'm supposed to and I pay full attention at all times. I would imagine this would be the same thought process for anyone who has access to a gun; you have the power to stop a person from being alive. Shouldn't that give you pause? Shouldn't that stop you from taking the gun out of the safe and loading it? Shouldn't that stop you from buying the weapon in the first place?

I don't want to infringe on anyone's rights, but I think you should think about your responsibilities as well as your rights. My friend Kat posted on her blog "it shouldn't be about an individual's right to bear arms, but about a society's right to be safe", and I wholeheartedly agree. 


Themes: Sandy Hook School shooting, gun control, US gun policy, Newtown massacre, Connecticut, Newtown school shooting, second amendment, right to keep and bear arms, right to bear arms

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