January 31, 2013
It strikes me that there are parallels between the controversy over gun control and the controversy over abortion which might be helpful in coming to some long-term resolution of both issues. That is, both issues involve what one side regards as a fundamental right, versus what the other side regards as a deeply moral matter of life and death. Many of us find ourselves on the “rights” side of one issue and the “life” side of the other, which could be useful in trying to understand the other side. For instance, few of us are willing to budge because we believe that a fundamental right (on one issue) and life (on the other) must be protected.
However, in a democracy, neither side can win everything that they believe is warranted. The only long-term resolution lies in acknowledging some of the concerns of the other side and finding a compromise that both can live with. We can’t use government to control what others do without, in return, sometimes seeing that control used on us.
It might help us move forward on the gun issue if gun enthusiasts would concede that people who choose to kill, or who simply act irresponsibly, are much more likely to actually kill others when they have access to lethal weapons. On the other side, people who want strict gun control need to accept the reality that our Constitution guarantees a right “to keep and bear arms” which is considered fundamental by many of our fellow citizens. The only long-term resolution will be one which both protects this right and regulates it in a way that helps reduce the carnage in our society.
Similarly, the pro-choice side in the abortion debate needs to accept that there are legitimate ethical concerns about the use of abortion in the world today. If we believe life is precious, we cannot be cavalier about ending pregnancies this way. On the other side, people unalterably opposed to abortion must understand that women who cannot control their fertility cannot control their lives, health, careers or family budgets, and therefore cannot concede this important right. The only long-term resolution will be one which protects this right, helps reduce the felt need for it, and regulates abortion in ways which reduce overuse and misuse.
This is not an easy time in our nation to be an active citizen who cares about the issues, but it will continue to be a time of change whether we like it or not. I encourage every adult American to stay engaged and to use your good will with each other and with our legislators to help our nation arrive at the best long-term resolutions currently possible.