The recent tragic shooting of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has brought the question of gun rights and public safety back into the sphere of debate. The right to bear arms is entrenched in the U.S. Constitution, but today it is a divisive and political subject. On one side, gun owners and those who believe that the rights of gun ownership help to support American ideals of liberty and freedom feel that these rights are not negotiable (Sanchez, 2018). On the other side are advocates and activists for a greater restriction on gun ownership and sales, including even banning gun ownership, in order to prevent tragic events such as the shooting of massive numbers of civilians, including children, by mentally ill snipers. Companies are noting this second group, and they are pulling away from support for gun lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) in light of increased calls to increase collective public safety rights at the expense of gun ownership and carry rights of individuals.
This political disagreement reveals that there continues to be conflict among Americans over the extent to which individual rights should prevail over collective rights. This is analogous to the challenge of state powers versus the centralized powers of the national government. In recent decades there has been an erosion of liberties with increased government surveillance to ensure security in the Post 9/11 environment. People who are frustrated with their opportunities and freedoms in America are more likely to favor individual rights, because there is the perception that the rights that they do have are being given to someone else- likely foreign immigrants, according to this mindset (Bierman, 2018). These can be seen as an ongoing part of a debate regarding the tension between equality and liberty, and the idea of individual rights in a democracy, which began with the formation of the American ideals.
- Bierman, N. (2018). Trump unleashes on gun policy, immigrants and Democrats in rambling campaign-style speech. Los Angeles Times. Available from: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-cpac-20180223-story.html
- Sanchez, L. (2018). Companies scramble to distance themselves from NRA. The Hill. Available from: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/375416-companies-scramble-to-distance-themselves-from-nra