People fear any number of things. Some make sense while others don’t.
Yet does one’s fear dictate how others can and should act?
According to a letter to the editor, one that’s repeating something I’ve seen more than once, it should.
Two mass shootings in Virginia in a matter of weeks, as well as the one in Colorado. How long will we as a country accept such violence as normal and inevitable, as part of our way of life?
We need to act in the name of peace. The freedom to own guns cannot outweigh the freedom to shop, to go on a field trip, to go to church, to go to school without fearing and/or facing violent, gruesome death.
Let’s understand that no right should outweigh another.
But there is no right to live free of fear. That simply doesn’t exist, yet it’s often presented as if it’s some kind of trump card on the Second Amendment.
Fear is, in a lot of ways, a choice. Sometimes that fear makes sense, other times it doesn’t.
For example, I get a survivor of a mass shooting being afraid of experiencing another. Such a situation makes sense to me, even if I know it’s not likely to happen again. We can at least wrap our heads around it.
But for most of us, which seemingly includes the author of this letter, such fears are a matter of choice. He or she has made the choice to be afraid on some level.
Now, they have the right to be afraid.
What doesn’t exist, however, is some rule that one person’s fear dictates how the rights of others work.
The author could do any number of things with that fear. They could arm themselves so as to fight back in the unlikely event of a mass shooting. They could look at the probabilities, for example, and see that their odds of being involved in a mass shooting are around one in ten million. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than be hurt in a mass shooting.
Further, with people like this thinking their fears somehow justify infringing on our rights, they never consider our fear. After all, if we opt to carry a gun so we can shop without fear, why does their fear justify creating it within others?
Let’s be real here, I’m concerned about being unable to respond to a violent attack. As such, my fear should, at least according to their argument, trump their rights.
Let’s remember that if one can use their fear to justify restricting people’s rights, then that fear should be enough to block tractor-trailers from using the same roads as other vehicles or any number of other things.
In fact, fear can be used to justify absolutely anything and it’s always a bad idea.
My advice to the letter-writer is that instead of letting your fear dictate policy, educate yourself so that you’ll understand how unreasonable that fear actually is and/or how to protect yourself in the unlikely event you have the misfortune of being there when something happens.
But you don’t have a right to live free of fear and you definitely don’t get to take my rights away because you’re scared.