Our responsibilities

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Two recent letters in the PG illustrate why it is so difficult to have a reasonable discourse on gun control.

Matthew Riedel ("Insulting Cartoon," Jan. 24) implies that those who support gun control are violating the Bill of Rights. Actually, Mr. Riedel, every right established in the Constitution is limited. Freedom of speech does not allow me to slander someone; freedom of the press does not allow the PG to commit libel; freedom of religion does not allow people to commit polygamy.

We have been navigating the slippery slope of freedom versus responsibility regarding these freedoms since John Peter Zenger was acquitted in 1735 of committing seditious libel, and we have managed to keep our balance. We need to do the same with the Second Amendment.

Letter writer Earl L. Brown ("A Historical View," Jan. 25) says our Constitution "has to be read as it was written, as the people who wrote it intended." Our Founders were great people, but even they could not have foreseen the way our country would develop over more than 200 years. Their genius was not in writing a document that would apply forever unchanged, but in giving us a document that we can interpret to suit the needs of our society as that society changes. That's why it has stayed relevant even though town criers have been replaced by bloggers. The same applies to whether it is still appropriate for private citizens to have unlimited freedom to arm themselves because armed militias were part of American society in 1776. It is our responsibility to ensure the Constitution remains relevant to our needs today.

Gun control alone will not solve the problem of violence in our society, but it must be a part of the solution. The question we should be debating is not whether to draw a line limiting gun ownership, but where to draw it.




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