Recently, my daughter turned 5 years old. My wife and I decided to get her first bicycle for her birthday. It is probably one of the most exciting moments in a person’s young life as they move from a tricycle to a two-wheel experience and adventure. It was a bright pink Schwinn equipped with both hand and foot breaks. With it came along a pony-themed helmet and elbow guards. Watching her ride up and down the alleyway at already blazing speeds for a first-time rider reminded me of my first pedal monster but also of the fact that, along with the bike, I was to pass along the safety road rules just like my parents did with me.
Safety rules shape and guide our lives from childhood to adulthood. Safety rules are at every corner: from the “wash your hands before eating” heard in every home and the janitorial “Caution: wet floor” sign present in stores, to the instruction booklets designed to operate machines and the safety guidelines found behind airplane seats, we are all surrounded by a rule, a guideline or a regulation that promotes some sort of safety.
The reason behind these rules could be summed up as needless endangerment and prevention of harm. We don’t drink and drive so we can avoid needlessly endangering others on the roads and keeping ourselves out of harm’s way. Doctors follow protocols in administrating medicine so they can protect patients from any harm. A violation of these rules could result in injury or could have a more dramatic effect: the death of the patient.
Lately, our society has been confronted with a series of tragedies caused by mass shootings. Columbine, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Fort Hood, Las Vegas, and the most recent Texas church shooting incidents shocked the nation, making us recoil in pain and be overcome with sorrow. But then, as anger and frustration set in, the sense of unity and compassion dissipated, and we began to divide, to blame the evils around us, to insists that something must be done, steps must be taken, certain rights removed and new laws must be passed.
These intense and corrosive debates ignited the spirits and brought to light, once again, Second Amendment rights but also the notion of safety. While liberals blame the violent video games and high number of gun sales, conservatives deny any correlations between the constitutional right to own and bear arms and mass shootings, citing the high crime rates in cities like Chicago and Baltimore despite very strict gun-control regulations and pointing into the direction of mental illness.
In his address to the nation following the Sutherland Springs church shooting that left 26 dead and many others wounded, President Donald Trump expressed his belief that this “act of evil” was caused by a “mental health problem” and not an issue with gun control in the United States. “Mental health is the problem here,” Trump said, noting that “based on preliminary reports” the shooter was a “very deranged individual.”
At the local level and along the same lines, Carroll County reiterated its opposition to allocating any funds or resources to enforce any element of gun laws that infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Back in 2013, the Carroll County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a resolution deeming Carroll “a Second Amendment sanctuary county” and stated their opposition to the Maryland Firearms Safety Act. Commissioner Richard Rothschild stressed that the passed gun control measures were unconstitutional and that Carroll County citizens should continue to exercise “rights already protected by the Second Amendment.”
Nothing truer to the spirit of Carroll County residents than the notion of freedom being fought for, protected and passed on to our children. We want our children to enjoy all the rights our nation’s founding fathers had in mind for future generations, we want them to be free and respect freedom as a sacred gift for which many generations of Americans sacrificed their lives, but we also want them to thrive in a safe community and a safe world. Looking to remove or impinge upon our Second Amendment rights is not the solution. At the same time, however, we cannot remain impassive.
How do we balance our rights under the Second Amendment with the safety of our public? If Columbine was felt as an earthquake and endures as an emblem of national calamity, the subsequent mass shootings have become less and less surprising. Once the killing of children and innocent, peaceful people is bearable, it becomes incongruous with the Christian notion of love and compassion. It is natural to want to do something to prevent another Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs or Virginia Tech. Working on finding ways to prevent such tragedies rather than removing rights should be the path to follow. And that could be pursued and accomplished through those safety rules we set in place to prevent us and others from harm.
The reality is that guns are not going anywhere and there is a martyr behind every safety rule. We must honor and respect those who sacrificed so we can have a rule and be safe. While some believe that in today’s world there is an “abundance of evil” and nothing could be done until we “kneel before the Almighty” as “evil people will do evil things no matter what laws are on the books,” it is this very attitude of resignation in front of the evil that perpetuates it and causes it to prevail. The privatio boni (evil is the absence of good/God) doctrine is a call to action. Can gun enthusiasts and liberals put aside politics and deal with reality and reach consensus on safety rules to protect us all? Let’s not just let our martyrs’ deaths pass by as numbers in statistic books, but fight together against evil. Fighting for our Carroll County together!
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David Ellin is a Republican candidate for a seat representing District 5 in the House of Delegates. He writes from Finksburg. Contact him through his Facebook page, David Ellin 2018.