The Wrong Side of History
There was a small incident that occurred when I was at the CAKE comics festival a few weeks back: basically my friend Barry pointed out what seemed to be a guy with a gun inside the convention hall - which caused me to have a few moments of WTF panic, before he seemingly disappeared - and it prompted me to write this little comic.
Mike Dawson is the author of the graphic novel Angie Bongiolatti, a story about sex, socialism, and online learning.
One line is sticking out to me, one I specifically don’t agree with. “….Exercising their rights, but what about my right not to feel terrorized?” I understand that he’s making a point, and obviously he’s not referring to an actual right but still. To keep and bear arms is a right and my right to protect myself is something I don’t want infringed upon by the government. I know people who conceal carry and nobody ever knows about it, no one is bothered. The people who open carry to make a point are also not people I agree with, as that just causes panic and floods the 911 lines. However, it is their right, they don’t need to flaunt it but it’s still their constitutional right. If guns make you upset or uncomfortable I’m very sorry but why is it necessary to infringe upon my rights and ability to defend myself for your peace of mind? Sorry if that sounds cruel but that the way I see it. If you could please explain your reasoning I will be more than happy to listen.
If you’re really interested, I can share what seems to me like solid reasoning on the subject which came out of a discussion another Tumblr user was having with someone who was asking similar questions to what you’re asking.
"Right to not be terrified." What? Show me where that is written down.
That would be in the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” To which the United States are a signatory, btw.
After reading through all of that, I still see nothing that has to do with people wanting the government to cater to their every fear even if it is as ridiculous as someone carrying a gun around them. Could you please point it out to me?
Now you’ve now gone and changed the question. Which is alright, I can try to answer the new one, but I just want to mention that that’s happened.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes “freedom from fear” within the preamble as the highest aspiration of the common people, and one of the reasons for which we have human rights. This is, again, a statement to which the United States government has subscribed. The language is borrowed from Franklin Roosevelt, who stated freedom from fear as one of his famous and much-lauded “Four Freedoms.”
The more specific mention is in Article 3, which identifies as a human right “life, liberty and security of person.” The word security is important, because it has a different meaning from safety. Security does not mean actual safety, it means an belief or feeling of safety. A right to security is synonymous with a right to freedom from reasonable fear.
I suspect you believe that fear of guns is not a reasonable fear. As another commenter earlier on this post said “Why would you be afraid of an inanimate object? Are you afraid of a rock?”
Speaking for myself, I’m not afraid of a rock. But I am afraid of a large rock hurtling toward my head. I’m not afraid of a tall cliff, but I’m afraid if I’m teetering on the edge of one. I’m not afraid of a gun, but I’m afraid of a stranger holding an assault weapon in a crowded place, like the comic shows.
Moreover, I put to you that even when guns— handguns and assault weapons; I consider hunting tools a different category— aren’t instruments of pain and death, they are instruments of fear. And as every gun advocate who claims that gun ownership is a deterrent to crime knows, that’s the point. Having a gun says “You should be afraid of me. If you mess with me, I have the power to kill you.” That message seems to me to be a major purpose— perhaps THE major purpose— of gun ownership.
So, to tie it all together (and to remove a little of the contempt from your language) you ask some people think the US government should act to protect them from their fear of guns. The answer is twofold:
1. The right to freedom from fear is well understood in American and global politics. While it may not be codified in American federal law at this time, it is recognized by America as a fundamental human right and a universal shared goal. I’m not sure, but I bet you could find reference to that right in any number of speeches by American presidents and presidential hopefuls in opposition to the goals of terrorism.
2. Fear of guns is reasonable. While gun violence only claims about three American lives per hundred thousand per year, it’s hard to argue that guns are designed and purchased primarily for the purpose of causing fear.
Now, this is a complex issue, I’m not denying that. For one thing, while buying a gun may make other people feel afraid of me, it might help me and my family to not feel afraid. I don’t think there’s any reliable way of measuring whether the widespread availability of guns and concealed carry licenses causes more fear than it prevents, or the other way around. I’ve got my own beliefs, but that’s not the same thing as knowing what’s best for the country.
But ultimately, that’s not what this conversation has been about. You asked where the right to be free from terror was written down, and I answered. You asked what gives people the sense that they can ask the government to control the thing that frightens them, and now I’ve answered that to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for your interest in this conversation!