As a member of last year's Gun Rights/Responsibilities Committee, I have read with dismay, articles written by members of the Gun Rights contingent. The difference in the way each of us remember the meetings is a stark reminder of how an event or series of events is influenced by one's beliefs and prior experiences. I remember once hearing the adage, "perception is 90% of reality," and it seems to be so. I do not wish to rehash the meetings, and I will not assume to know the motives of any of the participants. I will, however, offer some statements that I believe to be true.
The Supreme Court has ruled that citizens have the right to bear arms, but rights can be regulated. In the Second Amendment itself, the words "well regulated" are used. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition …" But none of the rights in the First Amendment are unfettered.
You can believe in and practice any religion you choose, but if the practice of your religion causes harm to another, you can be prosecuted. Christian Scientist parents have been prosecuted when their children have died because they did not seek treatment because of their beliefs. Bigamy is not allowed; neither is severe physical punishment even though a few sects believe it is dictated by the Bible or Koran.
Freedom of speech and of the press is protected under the law, but you cannot yell "fire" in a theater. You can be held accountable if you libel or defame someone. Glenn Beck is currently being sued by a Saudi man who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings because Beck stated that the plaintiff was the "money man" behind the attack.
You have the right to assemble, but if you are going to have a rally or a parade, you can be required to obtain a permit and may even be denied a permit in some cases.
In our daily lives, we can choose what profession we wish to practice, but we very often need to be licensed. We are required to have a license to drive and to have insurance if we own a car. These requirements may be perceived as impediments to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but they are reasonable, just as universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers are reasonable.
Individual rights can be regulated because we do not live in isolation but in a society. No right is an all or nothing proposition and this includes the right to own a gun.
Answer Book 2016
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