What happens when our need for security clashes with our constitutional freedoms and liberties?
Benjamin Franklin once said of this choice, “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
If all you do is listen to political pundits, you would think that we have to choose between these two principles. But the truth is that we don’t have to be forced to choose one at the expense of the other.
My view on guns and the Second Amendment is shaped by my life experience as the owner of a gun store in North Carolina. The reason I opened the store initially was that I was approached by local police officers and deputies who told me that they were having to travel great distances and log dozens of extra miles to find the nearest safe place to conduct their firearms training. So I decided to open my store, and the brave men and women of law enforcement were my first customers.
My personal story itself addresses the security versus freedom question. By opening the store, we provided a new market for folks to exercise their constitutional freedoms, while also giving the community and those who defend it a safe place to learn and train in the proper use of a firearm.
However, when we witness the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton or Parkland and Orlando, folks rightly feel a natural tendency to “do something.” Contrary to the heated political rhetoric, gun rights advocates like myself also feel this emotional pull. You can’t help but be shocked and saddened by the human toll of mass shootings.
The difference between gun control advocates and Second Amendment supporters is that we channel that pain and anguish into something logical, productive, and evidence-based that will mitigate these tragedies without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. We focus on people problems, not the devices.
We must address these shootings by looking at them on an individual basis and taking action that will stop similar incidents in the future. Whether that is providing schools with additional funding for resource officers, deploying more security at bars and nightclubs, investing in technology that shortens police response times, or encouraging more law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves when faced with threats.
Legislation such as the Mass Violence Prevention Act and the bipartisan TAPS Act are sensible actions Congress can take right now.
There are also aspects to this issue that only our culture can solve. We need to be better neighbors and parents and make sure our kids aren’t becoming bullies and aren’t exposed to a violence at an early age. We need to be mindful when our colleagues, classmates, or loved ones are having trouble and need help.
There is not one catch-all solution to this issue. There is not one big bill that Congress can pass that will suddenly stop these tragedies. What we can do is proactively and smartly craft specific policies in good faith that are aimed at ending an epidemic of violence that we all want to see stopped.