It’s been said that all rights come with responsibilities, and it’s something I thoroughly agree with. You have a right to free speech, but a responsibility to use that responsibly. For gun owners, you have the right to keep and bear arms, but you have an obligation to exercise that responsibility.
This isn’t a controversial point of view, all things considered. Oh, we might debate what one’s responsibilities are as a firearm owner, but I think just about everyone agrees that they exist.
So when the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote a headline saying, “The right to bear arms comes with responsibilities, the Editorial Board writes,” I didn’t worry too much.
Then I read it and realized they have a different view of responsibilities than I do.
There are no rights that do not come with responsibilities.
It is no threat to the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms to expect people who own firearms to keep their weapons in such a way that they are not likely to fall into the hands of criminals, children or others who have no business bearing them.
As reported recently by The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah is seeing a troublesome surge in both the number of guns stolen and the number of homicides committed with guns. The former statistic jumped 48% from 2011 to 2020, while the latter number tripled. Gun sales are also up sharply and, while that’s not a crime, connecting the dots strongly suggests that many of the people who legally own firearms are not living up to the responsibility of keeping the community safe from their misuse.
There have been attempts in the Utah Legislature to make responsible gun ownership not just a civic responsibility but also a legal obligation. Sadly, but not surprisingly, every attempt to mandate that gun owners secure their arms, or to make giving or lending a gun to someone who later uses in it the commission of a crime something that a person can be sued for, is rejected on the flawed argument that it would impinge on the rights of gun owners.
Of course, the Tribune editorial board doesn’t see an issue with turning a responsibility into a legal obligation. I sure as hell do.
You see, for one thing, we don’t always agree on what’s a responsibility and what isn’t. For another, what makes sense for one person doesn’t make sense for another.
Firearm thefts are up, but how many of those thefts included guns with some kind of gun lock on them? Many gun owners use those simply because gun safes are big, heavy, and expensive. They’re not an option for a lot of people.
Besides, most mandatory storage laws actually accept the locks as being safely stored.
Yet those locks are relatively easy to defeat if one is given enough time.
See, it’s easy to blame gun owners for the problem and to try to push for some law to make them do what you think is right, but what none of those people ever bother to ask is why are you trying to punish the victims of these thefts, anyway?
Honestly, this idea that gun owners are responsible for gun thefts in some way just sounds an awful lot like telling a woman if she hadn’t been in that part of town dressed that way, she wouldn’t have been raped.
Now, I’m a proponent of securing your weapons when not in use. I actually do think it’s the responsible thing to do. But when it gets mandated, it no longer becomes something you can adjust due to your circumstances. You can’t leave a gun available for your responsible teenager to use to defend themselves from a home invasion. You can no longer keep them in various parts of your home in case you need one and can’t make it to where your weapon is secured.
It removes all ability of the gun owner to determine their own needs.
The truth of the matter is that this isn’t about responsibilities. That’s just a frame the Tribune thought to use in order to make their screed less objectionable. The problem for them is that we see through that kind of thing.
For them, our responsibilities are whatever they say they are and we either do it their way or we’re scum.
I’d say the scum are the people who think they get a say in what we do in our own homes.