“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”
Dr. Ben Carson’s statement in the wake of the Oregon mass shootings is yet another example, as he and others vie for the Republican presidential nomination, of the inherent untruth in Republicans’ positions on free speech, religious freedom, and the right to bear arms. Carson’s statement presumes that the right to bear arms is absolute, and that additional gun controls would take it away. He’s wrong on both counts.
The rights set out in the First and Second Amendments relating to freedoms of speech, religion, and bearing arms, are not absolute, despite what some Republicans would have us believe. Our laws restrict speech – think libel, slander, defamation, or inciting a riot. Our laws prevent the government adopting a religion, but create accommodations for the exercise of religious freedom. Our laws require background checks and ID in order to get a gun. Surely, additional controls like waiting for a background check to be completed, or requiring safe storage of firearms would create little, if any, barriers to ownership, but would (as proven elsewhere) mean less people die from gun violence.
Dr. Carson and others who would do nothing in the wake of these tragedies tell us that the price of the right to bear arms is innocents shot in schools, movie theaters, and on college campuses, and that we just have to live with that. I submit that this cost is too high, that we should not just have to live with this, and that moderate gun controls preserve our rights but serve us all.