But one of the callers reminded me of a pet peeve that’s developed over the years of listening to gun control activists. It was a woman from Sioux Falls, who said…
…well, we’ll come back to that.
But First: If a thunderstorm springs up, do you have a right to take your family out for a walk without being hit by lightning?
Of course not. You have…:
- A responsibility to not endanger your family
- The free will to decide if you’re going to take a walk in the rain (and lightning, and maybe hail)
- The means to avoid the rain, hail and lightning by staying inside.
But what if humans are involved?
Do you have a right to drive your kids to the mall and not get struck by another car?
No. What you have is…
- A responsibility as a driver and as a parent to assess the risks inherent in driving your family in a car. At 2PM on a Saturday afternoon, those are probably pretty low. At bar closing time on Saint Patrick’s Day, probably less low.
- A moral imperative as a citizen and moral being not to endanger other people via your own behavior on the road.
- An obligation to use all prudent means to keep your family, passengers and the rest of the driving public safe; wear seatbelts, put your small children in car seats, carry insurance, maintain your vehicle, drive defensively, prudently and without distractions.
- You have legal recourse if someone breaks the law and violates the principles above, and damages your vehicle or harms you or your passengers. Law enforcement may also have something to say about it.
You have a right to try to drive your kids to the mall. It is your responsibility to see to it that you get there and back safely.
Anyway: The woman from Sioux Falls referred to something I hear from a lot of less-informed people on the issue – most of whom, I suspect, are repeating a chanting point that neither they nor the person they heard it from understands all that well.
“My kids have a right not to get shot”.
No, ma’am. They do not.
Nobody has a right to shoot them, it’s true (let’s assume “self-defense” is off the table).
But there is no “right not to get shot” .
- Moral imperatives to:
- Not kill innocent people yourself
- Avoid being in a position where “violent death” is a significant likelihood. As much publicity as rampage and spree killings get, you are still vastly more likely to be a homicide statistic if you’re involved in a life of crime
- Keep your children out of danger – whether it’s not hanging out among drug dealers, or being observant of the situation around you as you go about your law-abiding business.
- A common sense imperative to avoid places where lethal trouble might break out, and be observant about the situation around you.
- A responsibility to see to your own safety by whatever means you deem (as a responsible, law-abiding adult) necessary and your worldview finds acceptable. That can mean anything from pure pacifism (being OK with giving up your stuff, and maybe your life, rather than resorting to violence) to avoidance, to prudent preparations for self-defense. For some, that means developing the ability to deter or counterattack against violent attack.
- A responsibility to see to your family’s safety. What does that mean? Oh, boy, is that complicated. Do your kids go to a school full of kids in black trench coats who listen to Slipknot? You might wanna look into their environment. Do your kids to go a school where the official response to the possibility (remote!) of a spree shooter is to hand out suspensions for talking about spree shooters? You may need to have a talk with your principal, as fraught as that can be. (I had a conversation with my kids’ principal after 9/11 – and it was depressing indeed).
Too picky about semantics? Probably.
But even if there is a “right not to get shot”? Like all other rights, it’s your responsibility to know how to practice it, and your imperative to protect it. Because nobody is obliged to do it for you.