no rights are absolute.  At some points the Constitution makes that clear - in the 5th (and 14th) Amendment you can be denied the most basic rights of life and liberty via due process of law.

Rights are often in conflict.  And because an assertion of an unlimited and unrestricted right on behalf of one party inevitably means the diminishment of the rights and liberty of another, all rights are restricted in some circumstances.

The right to keep and bear arms as an individual, even if I do not believe should be based on the 2nd Amendment, which speaks not of individuals but of the people collectively, nevertheless would be guaranteed as an unenumerated right on the 9th Amendment (although Right-wingers do not like the 9th because of Roe v Wade).  

You may have the right to freely swing your arms, but I have the right to keep the shape of my nose, so the limits of that freedom for you are at the point of my nose.

Those who insist upon their rights being absolute and unfettered even at the expense of the liberty and safety of others are to my mind sociopathic.  That applies to those who assert unfettered personhood for corporate entities while not subjecting them to the same penalties of human persons who can be imprisoned and executed as well as fined.  

And it most certainly applies to those who elevate their possession of firearms of all kinds in all situations even at the expense of the right to life and liberty of school children.

Today I am home from school, recovering from bronchitis made worse by going in yesterday.  We had not had students on Friday, and especially with our student population it was to my mind imperative that we be there to assure them we will keep them safe, that like the adults at Sandy Hook Elementary we will put our lives at risk to protect them.

That we have to make such assurances are a sign of the sickness of our culture, which glorifies violence in so many ways.

For some their guns are their religion, even at the expense of what their nominal Christianity should teach them.  Somehow they think the words Blessed be the Peacemakers refers to 19th Century Colt Revolvers.  

No one's rights are absolute.  Were that the case, we would be right back in a Hobbesian state of nature of the war of every man against every other man, meaning our lives would soon be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Unless and until those who assert untrammeled gun rights at the expense of the rights of others become willing to recognize that civil society is not possible with such untrammeled rights, we will not solve what is no longer a cancer slowly eating away at America, but rather an ongoing repeated trauma, with dozens of children dying by guns each week, each day.

Your rights end at the point of my nose.  And the noses of the children I teach.  And the noses of all those who do not want to have to wear body armor and pack heat themselves in order to go out into the world.

Originally posted to teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:05 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

Your Email has been sent.