The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 13, 2013

Some individual rights

Daily Item

---- — There is a lot of talk about rights these days, but much of it is without an understanding that there are a few rights that are not without limits. All rights must be counterbalanced with responsibility. If most rights were unlimited, we would live in a chaotic society. Since one's rights may come in conflict with the exercise of another's rights, there must be some limitations placed on the individual's exercise of their rights.

Free speech does not allow for slander. Speech cannot be used to endanger others. Speech should not be used to disturb the peace. The press cannot be used to perpetrate a fraud. We would not allow human sacrifice in the practice of religion. While there may be a right to bear arms, that right, like other rights is not without limits. The boundaries placed on the exercise of our rights are done either by social convention or by law. Many laws exist because social convention has failed to adequately control the abuse of certain rights.

What about the right to life which was denied to children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary? Isn't that the most fundamental right we have? It is so fundamental a right that it did not occur to the framers to include it in the Bill of Rights. It is very clear that our society faces many serious problems because of the existence of firearms in our society. It is a difficult issue. How can we best protect society without denying the right to bear arms? The simple fact is that the background checks and the exclusion of certain types of weapons does not infringe on the second amendment. Background checks already exist and assault weapons have been banned in the past.

Sometimes we must be willing to give up a little or have some inconvenience to do our part to help the greater good. It seems that many gun owners accept this idea. The gun manufacturers and their puppet organization, the NRA, are unwilling to do so. Profits by these corporations trump any moral responsibility. The NRA is doing all it can to disrupt the reasonable exercise of democracy. This issue demonstrates for us, again, how corporate power and money have warped our representative democracy. One only has to listen to their paid representatives in Congress.

Will the proposed new gun laws protect us? I hope to some degree, but we are starting in such a deep hole that such laws have a lot to overcome. The silliest argument we hear from the gun lobby is that we shouldn't have background checks because criminals will just break the law. By this standard we should eliminate all criminal law because criminals will just violate them.

Jack D. Miller,