A few weeks back, I read that two teens were pursued by men with guns in a rural South Carolina area after they had made a turn in one of their driveways.
The kids made no threatening gestures or did any damage while making the turn. The men with the guns were identified as the town’s fire chief and his son. They later said that the reason for the chase was because the fire chief had recently suffered thefts at his property.
However, if the kids turned around and left what was the reason that they needed to be chased with drawn guns? Luckily both parties were on the phone with police dispatchers during the pursuit. The teens’ car was run off the road by the pair, the kids were ordered out at gunpoint and made to lie face down. It wasn’t long before a local sheriff’s deputy was on scene.
No arrests were made, and everybody was told to go home. The parents of the teens could not figure out why the two men had not been arrested. A civil lawsuit is now pending against the men.
This goes way beyond a “stand your ground situation.” There was no justifiable fear for the fire chief and his son. They were in hot pursuit of the kids. It would seem the teenagers had a “stand your ground claim.” A reasonable person would have at most called law enforcement and made them aware of the situation if they thought the teens were responsible for any mischief.
What would have happened if the kids had been hunting and had rifles in their car? What if, during the pursuit, an accident had occurred? What if one of the kids had said no to lying prone on the ground? Would the men have shot the kid?
Which leads me to my second point about gun rights and societal rights.
In the last few weeks, the toll of mass shootings has again picked up. Philadelphia, Shreveport, Baltimore are just a few of the places where gunfire has occurred resulting in the killing and wounding of people having birthday parties and Independence Day celebrations.
We are a country that has glorified the gun as a symbol of constitutional liberty instead of seeing these weapons as instruments that can have deadly consequences. It appears to me that we have held 2nd Amendment rights to be greater than other rights.
There is the right to own a firearm and use it for self-protection. That is a far cry from indiscriminately shooting people at parties and pursuing kids for making turns in driveways. Along with owning a firearm comes huge responsibilities.
The two men who acted the way they did with their guns have abrogated their right to possess them. They acted irresponsibly and recklessly. It should be seen as a criminal offense. That is the simple part to fix.
It is more difficult to correct events precipitated by mass shooters. While I agree that a gun buyer should not have to prove a need to own a gun, it is my contention that not everyone should have a gun (e.g., a convicted felon, a person suffering from mental illness, or a person who has shown a willing disregard for life). Nothing in the 2nd Amendment has a prohibition from the government requiring a registration of all weapons. There is also nothing in the Constitution that prevents the government from prohibiting certain weapons from being owned by the public.
Like everything, there is a balancing act. The American public gets it. They overwhelmingly think that guns should be registered. They overwhelmingly believe that certain weapons like assault type rifles have no place in our society. We need to listen to what common-sense Americans think.
New York’s Sullivan Law was government overreach, and the Supreme Court made a good call in declaring it unconstitutional. But the Court never said that gun registration or red flag laws were unconstitutional. An assault weapons ban would not be either.
Owning any gun requires responsibilities that go with that right. There are no absolutes. To live within a society requires individuals to recognize that.
Those two teenagers had rights that were taken away from them by men acting irresponsibly with guns. The people shot in Baltimore and Philadelphia were deprived of their right to life by men with guns. Government exists to enforce every right for the good of all of us.