bookmark_borderGun control punishes innocent people

“White supremacy,” the headlines screamed in the days after the Buffalo shooting. Again and again, newspapers went out of their way to mention, as many times as possible, the race of the killer and of the victims. Articles featured quote after quote by so-called experts who pontificated about the growing threat of “right-wing domestic terrorism” and the “toxic beliefs” that allegedly motivated the shooting. Politicians solemnly droned on and on about the “poison” of white nationalism and how it must be eradicated from our society. The common thread among all these sentiments is that they demonstrate a greater interest in condemning and blaming groups of people based on their skin color and/or ideology than in condemning and blaming the shooter himself.

Then came the shooting in Texas. Unable (for the most part) to use this incident to attack white people for their skin color, the political and media establishment opted instead to attack everyone who believes that individual rights should be respected. Just as they have been countless times, the mindless, authoritarian platitudes are repeated ad nauseam. Pro-rights activists are viciously ridiculed for being irrationally “obsessed” with guns. The Republican Party is labeled a “death cult.” Newspaper headlines bemoan the “toll” of gun ownership and the “inaction” of Congress. Laws that actually respect fundamental rights are criticized as “lax” and “weak.” People smugly lecture anyone who will listen that Second Amendment rights apply only if someone is a member of a militia. “Since when is gun ownership a human right?” they derisively ask. (The correct answer: since the beginning of time.) “What clause in the Constitution gives you the right to mow down 10-year-olds with assault weapons?” they scream with a nastiness that is matched only by their idiocy. (The correct answer: none, and no one is arguing that any clause does. Only a moron would equate using a gun to mow down 10-year-olds with merely owning one.) “Enough is enough,” people mindlessly repeat. (My question is: enough of what? Enough of people’s fundamental rights being respected?) Even among Republicans, anti-rights sentiments abound, frequently prefaced by such dishonest statements as “I’m as pro-Second Amendment as they come, but…” Again and again, politicians and activists bemoan the fact that government has “done nothing,” as if it is somehow self-evident that punishing innocent people is the correct response to a tragedy.

Let me tell you unequivocally: punishing innocent people is never the correct response to anything. As I’ve stated before and will continue to repeat as long as there are those who disagree, people have a fundamental right to do anything that they want as long as it does not violate the rights of anyone else. Rights are absolute. You don’t get to take rights away simply because doing so would prevent tragedies from happening. And rights are not contingent upon their exercise being safe or healthy. Rights cannot be violated under any circumstances. Far too often, our society responds to tragedies by violating everyone’s rights in an attempt to prevent similar tragedies from happening again. This punishes everyone for the actions of a few. And punishing innocent people is never OK.

Many people seem to have the idea that if they can just be emphatic enough, or angry enough, or graphic enough in describing a tragedy that has happened, then it will somehow make it clear that innocent people should be punished. I am tired of hearing politicians and activists pompously moralizing, again and again, about parents grieving the deaths of their children, about communities in mourning, about the gory details of the violence that was committed. No one denies that the deaths of innocent people are tragic. What we deny is that punishing innocent people is an acceptable response. It simply does not follow from the fact that a bad thing happened to someone, that innocent people ought to be punished. And this is true no matter how bad the thing is. No amount of dramatic storytelling, graphic detail, or pompous moralizing will cause this to follow. No amount of grief, no amount of rage, no amount of self-righteousness gives someone the right to punish innocent people.

I am an autistic person who loves statues and history, who believes in individual rights, and who is just trying to get through each day the best that I can. I am angry, and I am exhausted. I am tired of public officials, celebrities, and people on the internet falling all over themselves to proclaim their solidarity with whatever group happens to be popular at the moment, while ignoring the feelings and needs of people like me. I am tired of having my fundamental rights taken away when I haven’t done anything wrong. I am tired of being stigmatized and shamed for actions that I had nothing to do with, solely because I happen to have the same skin color as the perpetrator. I am tired of being attacked and insulted for having the audacity to believe that rights should not be violated. I am tired of being punished by having my liberty restricted for actions that I did not do and situations that I did not create. 

Instead of focusing on punishing the actual shooters, far too many politicians and members of the media focus on punishing entire groups, whether that be white people, young men, gun owners, victims of bullying, pro-rights activists, or legislators who opt to respect rights instead of violating them. I am tired of the sneering faces, filled with self-righteous intolerance, condemning and blaming me for another person’s actions. I am tired of the scorn, vitriol, and insults being heaped relentlessly upon me – and upon all people who believe in individual liberty – as if I am the mass murderer. I am tired of being called immoral, when failing to distinguish between murderers and innocent people is the epitome of moral bankruptcy. 

I haven’t survived a mass shooting, or lost a family member or friend to one, but I am a person, and my well-being matters also. I have experienced, and continue to experience, unbearable loss, anguish, and pain, yet society has not only neglected to punish everyone for what happened to me, it has neglected to punish even the perpetrators themselves. What makes these pompous and self-righteous people so superior to me that society has decided that when I am harmed, no one should be punished, but when they are harmed, everyone should be?

Headlines about people being killed in mass shootings understandably capture the public’s attention, and the photos and stories of the victims understandably tug on people’s heartstrings. As the faces of shooting victims are splashed across newspaper front pages and the TV news, and their family members tearfully and angrily testify before Congress, it seems sacrilegious to argue against the idea that such tragedies should be prevented by any possible means. However, attempts to prevent tragedies at the expense of individual rights must be opposed, because freedom is crucial to having a life that is worth living. The gradual chipping away of liberty – whether by mandating medical procedures, banning the ingestion of substances, or imposing hurdles to gun ownership – is not as dramatic as a mass shooting. But it is just as destructive, if not more so. Of course, these victims didn’t deserve to die. But neither do I deserve to have my life destroyed by being robbed, one by one, of the things that make it worth living. The face below is not the face of a shooting victim. It is not the face of someone who has been harmed by gun violence. It is the face of someone who has been harmed, and will continue to be harmed, by authoritarian policies that attempt to prevent crimes by punishing those who do not commit them.

This, as you may have guessed, is my face. If you support gun control, you support harming me. Just as mass shootings end innocent lives, immoral laws destroy innocent lives, one violation of individual liberty at a time, by making them no longer worth living.

That is not as attention-grabbing as children being shot to death. But it is equally important.

It is wrong for mass shooters to punish innocent people. And it is equally wrong for the government to do the same in response.

bookmark_borderYou don’t need to understand people’s decisions in order to respect them

One of the moral principles that I strongly believe in, and that I frequently write about on this blog, is the idea that people have the right to do anything they want, as long as it does not violate the rights of anyone else. (This idea is known as the non-aggression principle.)

Unfortunately, many people have the idea that unless they personally understand and agree with another person’s actions and decisions, those actions and decisions are not legitimate. I strongly disagree with this way of thinking. As long as someone’s actions are not directly harming you, they are not required to justify those actions to you, or to anyone else. People have a right to do whatever they believe is best for them. It doesn’t matter if their reasoning does not make sense to you, because their reasoning is none of your business.

Second Amendment rights provide a great example of this. More times than I can count, I have heard the claim, “No one needs an AR-15” (as well as an almost infinite number of variations of this claim with regard to different types of weapons, ammunition, etc.). People who make this claim are completely disregarding the non-aggression principle. One doesn’t need to prove a need for something in order to be allowed to have it. The only thing that matters is the fact that having an AR-15 does not, in itself, harm anyone. Therefore, people have the right to own and carry AR-15s for any reason, or for no reason at all. 

This meme from the National Association for Gun Rights sums it up perfectly:

Another decision that people are frequently expected to justify is the decision not to receive the Covid vaccine. Once I was arguing with someone on Twitter who claimed that if a person chooses not to follow the advice of public health experts, then of course it makes sense that the person would not be allowed to just wander around in public. This line of reasoning took my breath away, not just because of its blatant and unabashed authoritarianism, but more subtly because of its disturbing presumption that people are required to justify their medical decisions. This person seemed to be presuming that people are obligated to provide some sort of medical justification for disobeying the advice of medical experts, and if they fail to do so, then it is okay for them to be punished by having their freedoms taken away. In other words, it is one thing if someone has medical contraindications to getting the vaccine, but absent that, everyone should get the vaccine. Consistent with this way of thinking, the person then proceeded to interrogate me about what reasons a person could possibly have for declining the vaccine. But this way of thinking is wrong, and this line of questioning completely misses the point. Other people’s medical decisions, and the reasons for them, are none of his business and none of my business, either. The right to decline medical procedures is fundamental, and no one is required to provide medical justification, or any justification at all, for exercising it. “I don’t want to” is a perfectly good and complete reason for declining the vaccine.

Analogous situations frequently arise in everyday life as well. Society often expects people to provide a reason if they say no to an invitation, or leave a social event before it is over. These expectations are problematic for me, because I don’t particularly enjoy socializing, and I’m not able to tolerate it for as large amounts of time as most people are. Once when I told a friend that I was having a busy week and therefore wouldn’t be able to go to a particular event with her, she insisted that I explain exactly what I was doing and why that made it impossible for me to attend the event. I have been advised, when a social event is lasting longer than I want to stay, that I should make an excuse such as saying that I have a headache or have to get up early the next day. This has always seemed not quite right to me. Why should I have to make an excuse for staying for what I perceive to be a normal amount of time? My decision to leave a social event would be perfectly legitimate even if my only reason for doing so was preferring to play video games, sit on my couch, or watch paint dry. Just like with medical decisions or gun ownership decisions, people should not have to justify to others their decisions about how to spend their time and energy.

bookmark_borderSecond Amendment rights are for everyone

I saw the below quote by Rep. Louise Slaughter on social media recently, and I was struck by how wrong (in my opinion) her understanding of rights is. 

(H/T Firearms Policy Coalition)

To put it simply, the Second Amendment does not only protect people who “want all the guns they can have.” It protects everyone.

The Second Amendment guarantees everyone the right to bear arms. People who have no interest in guns or weapons – a group that clearly includes Rep. Slaughter – are protected by the Second Amendment just as much as those who love guns and weapons. And this logic applies to all rights: the fact that a person has no desire to exercise a particular right does not mean that the person does not have that right.

Contrary to what Rep. Slaughter claims, everyone has a Second Amendment. Slaughter clearly does not value the rights that the Second Amendment guarantees, and would not mind losing them. But that does not make it okay for her to take them away from everyone else.

bookmark_border“No one needs an AR-15”

Proponents of gun control often point out that no one “needs” an AR-15 (or another type of gun, or a bump stock, or a pistol brace, or a gun in general). The argument seems to be that if a person does not need something, then they shouldn’t be allowed to have it.

This argument is, to put it bluntly, preposterous. Seeing it repeated ad nauseam by dozens and dozens of different people all over the TV, the newspaper, and the internet is one of my pet peeves.

When one applies this argument to other situations, it becomes obvious how wrong and illogical it is to argue that unless someone needs something, they shouldn’t be allowed to have it.

To name just a few examples, no one needs designer clothing, no one needs tattoos, and no one needs to get their ears pierced. Does it follow that designer clothing, tattoos, and earrings should be banned? Of course not.

No one needs 20 dresses, or 30 pairs of pants, or 40 sweaters. Does it follow that people should be banned from owning these amounts of clothing, and restricted to owning only the amount of clothing that they absolutely need? Of course not.

No one needs Beanie Babies, or Pokemon cards, or toy soldiers, or sports memorabilia, or video games. Should these things be banned? Of course not.

No one needs to get married, and no one needs to have a baby, because being single and being child-free are perfectly valid and acceptable ways of living. Does it follow that getting married and having children should be banned? Of course not. In fact, I’d bet that many people who argue passionately that marriage is a basic right also argue that AR-15s ought to be banned because no one “needs” them.

The list of things that people do not “need” could continue until this blog post became as long as a novel. When you think about it, the only things that people truly need in order to live are food, water, shelter, and perhaps medical services (if they have a life-threatening medical condition). But it would be insane to argue that because of this, these basic necessities are the only things that people should be allowed to have! Yet this is exactly the presumption that you are making if you point out that people do not “need” guns and think that this somehow proves that guns should be banned.

You don’t need to need something in order to be allowed to have it. The ability to have and do things that you like – whether that be clothing, body mods, toys, games, collectibles, relationships, or guns – is inherently valuable because it makes your life better. A world in which people are allowed to do anything they wish (as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of anyone else) is self-evidently better than a world in which people are allowed to have only the things that they need. Owning and possessing guns and related paraphernalia does not violate the rights of others. And for people who like such things, the ability to own and possess them makes their lives better. Therefore, guns and related paraphernalia should be available to anyone who wishes to have them. It really is that simple.

bookmark_borderMark and Patricia McCloskey have every right to defend themselves

In a now viral video, a husband and wife in St. Louis, Missouri named Mark and Patricia McCloskey decided to defend themselves and their home against a large group of Black Lives Matter protesters. The mob of protesters broke through a gate and marched down the private street where the McCloskeys’ home is located. In response, Mark and Patricia pointed guns at the mob from their porch.

Mark McCloskey defended his and Patricia’s actions in an interview with KMOV-TV:

“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through. I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed. A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives. One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said, ‘You’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”

The McCloskeys’ attorney added that they are both personal injury lawyers who represent victims of police brutality, and they actually support the message of BLM.

Despite the fact that this looks like a clear case of self-defense, numerous people have alleged that the McCloskeys’ conduct constitutes “assault” and have demanded that they be punished.

For example, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced that her office would be investigating. She said: “I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Attorney Don Calloway tweeted that Mark McCloskey “committed an assault” and “should be arrested and charged with assault immediately.” And Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that “their actions should have consequences.”

Attorney Eric Banks told St. Louis Public Radio: “You cannot act with impunity, come out of your house with an automatic weapon, and point it in the direction of the people coming down the street. It’s just beyond the pale.”

Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View, said: “If there’s a peaceful protest and you feel threatened, I don’t know why you decide to go outside of your home and brandish a weapon. Don’t you stay inside of your home and call the police? So it just seems to me that there is quite a disconnect there, because what they did was very aggressive. There wasn’t a need to brandish a weapon in a threatening way.”

There is a petition titled, “Have the McCloskeys disbarred for Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” The organizer of the petition writes that the McCloskeys “need to be held accountable.”

According to St. Louis Public Radio, the Missouri Bar Association has, indeed, received dozens of calls demanding that the McCloskeys’ law licenses be revoked, and cyberbullies have left thousands of negative reviews on their law firm’s Facebook page.

This is ridiculous. First of all, the McCloskeys did not commit assault. Anyone with even a basic understanding of logic would agree that in order for an action to constitute assault, something needs to actually touch the person allegedly being assaulted. The McCloskeys did not fire their guns. They did not go over to the protesters and hit anyone over the head with the guns. Neither Mark nor Patricia nor either of the guns nor any bullets made any physical contact with any of the protesters. Therefore, no assault took place.

Second, the protesters were in the wrong because they trespassed on private property. Anyone who trespasses on private property is automatically the aggressor and bears 100% of the responsibility for any confrontation or conflict that takes place as a result. In an article arguing that the McCloskeys are “screwed, and rightfully so,” Jim Swift at the The Bulwark writes: “Members of that community are not empowered to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. This is why you call the police… Crimes committed on private property are not exempted from legal scrutiny.” But the McCloskeys did call police. Additionally, contrary to Swift’s claim, people do have the right to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. The fact that the trespassers are unarmed is irrelevant. The only relevant fact is that they trespassed on someone else’s property. Therefore, they deserved to have guns pointed at them. Anyone who trespasses on someone else’s property deserves whatever treatment the property owner deems necessary to defend his or her property. The fact that the protesters trespassed makes the McCloskeys’ actions not a crime.

Finally, those demanding the McCloskeys’ arrest point out that under Missouri law, it constitutes “unlawful use of weapons” to “exhibit, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.” But the mob of protesters were clearly acting in a more threatening way than either Mark or Patricia McCloskey. According to Mark, nearly 100 angry protesters broke through a gate, and one pulled out pistol magazines and said “you’re next.” Even if you don’t believe his version of events, the number of protesters and the mere fact that they were trespassing on private property should be enough to consider the McCloskeys innocent of any criminal offense. Whenever you have a conflict with two people on one side and hundreds of people on the other side, the two people are almost always in the right. How could a crowd of protesters be intimidated or threatened by two individuals? Hundreds of people are inherently more intimidating and threatening than two people, regardless of who is armed and who isn’t.

In conclusion, the McCloskeys did not commit assault or unlawful use of weapons. They did not intimidate anyone and they were not aggressive; they defended themselves against an intimidating mob. They should not be arrested or disbarred. They do not “need to be held accountable” because they did nothing wrong. The only consequences that their actions should have are positive ones… such as this salute from yours truly. Thank you, Mark and Patricia, for standing up to the mob and providing a good example of self-defense for all Americans.

bookmark_borderProtests against authoritarianism: it’s not about haircuts

I often see causes that I believe in dismissed as petty or unimportant. People who object to their rights being violated are accused of “whining.” What the people who make these types of arguments do not understand is that it’s not usually about the specific thing, but about the general principle behind it.

An example of this is the recent protests against authoritarian measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19. The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard a medical ethicist who was being interviewed refer to these protesters as “the people who want haircuts.” Separately, in a tweet that I saw today, someone described these protesters as “whining ’cause the barbershop closed during a pandemic.”

These criticisms completely miss the point. It’s not about barbershops. It’s not about nail salons, or restaurants, or malls, or gyms, or parks, or casinos, or even churches (although those who argue that their religious freedom is being violated by the lockdown orders have an excellent point). It’s about individual liberty. It’s about the principle that freedom should not be sacrificed for the sake of safety. It’s about the principle that individuals should be able to make their own decisions about their own lives and to decide for themselves what amount of risk they are willing to take.

Supporters of gun rights face similar criticisms. We are called “gun fetishists” and “gun kissers,” and ridiculed for being irrationally obsessed with our “murder toys.” But it’s not about the guns. I have never owned a gun and have only used one a couple times, but it would be difficult to find a more ardent supporter of gun rights than me. Just like with the lockdown protests, it’s about the principle that freedom should not be sacrificed for safety. It’s about the principle that an object should not be banned, or made more difficult to obtain, simply because some people choose to misuse it. It’s about the principle that the correct response to a crime is to punish the person who did it, not to punish innocent people by taking their freedom away.

These moral principles are important. Without them, people would not have any freedom at all. Barbershops and guns are just examples of instances to which the moral principles apply. Personally, I can do without a gun and I can do without a haircut. But the government should not be able to take the freedom of owning a gun or getting a haircut away from people. Once a moral principle is violated in one case, there is nothing to stop it from being violated in other cases as well. Think about that before accusing protesters of “whining.”

bookmark_borderVictory for gun rights in Massachusetts

An awesome victory for Second Amendment Rights took place today in my home state of Massachusetts. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock issued a preliminary injunction allowing gun stores to open beginning on Saturday! Governor Charlie Baker had ordered them to close along with all other “non-essential” businesses as part of the state’s lockdown measures to fight Covid-19. This legal victory is the result of a lawsuit filed against Baker and his administration by a coalition of gun rights groups and individuals, including Firearms Policy Coalition, Commonwealth Second Amendment, and Second Amendment Foundation.

According to Judge Woodlock, the forced closure of gun stores amounted to an “improper burden” on people’s Second Amendment rights. “There’s no justification here between the goals of the emergency declared by the Commonwealth and the burdening of the constitutional rights of the defendants in this narrow area,” he said. “I have enough information to say, in this very small corner of this emergency, we don’t surrender our constitutional rights. These plaintiffs… have constitutional rights that deserve respect and vindication. And it becomes necessary for a court to do that.”

He also said: “There may be, in the background, a distaste or a lack of enthusiasm for the firearms industry in Massachusetts among political leaders. They’re entitled to their views as well. They just can’t transgress constitutional rights.”

Beginning on Saturday, gun stores can open for business between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. as long as they operate by appointment only and make sure customers stand 6 feet apart.

“The citizens of Massachusetts have been deprived of their right to acquire arms for defense of hearth and home for too long during a time where it is most critical,” said Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) Director of Legal Strategy Adam Kraut.

FPC President Brandon Combs said, “State and local governments cannot suspend the Constitution and its guarantee of fundamental human rights. Individuals have a human right to acquire firearms and ammunition for self-defense, and the need for self-defense is especially important during uncertain times. This important victory means people in the Bay State can exercise their right to keep and bear arms.”

This ruling affirms the fact that no pandemic or emergency of any kind should cancel out people’s fundamental rights. Thank you to the plaintiffs who filed this lawsuit and to Judge Woodlock for making the right ruling.

bookmark_borderGetting rid of guns at the Olympics is a terrible idea

After the New Zealand shooting, I saw an article by sports journalist Alan Abrahamson titled, “At the Olympics: no more guns,” in which he argues exactly what the title would suggest. Abrahamson says that the International Olympic Committee should get rid of shooting, which has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1896, as well as possibly modern pentathlon and biathlon as well.

“The Olympics is about something bigger than each of us and all of us,” he writes. “A higher cause, if you will. Shooting is not that.” Shooting should be eliminated, he says, “as a matter of promoting the best of humankind.”

I could not disagree more.

Getting rid of shooting at the Olympics is just another example of prioritizing safety over freedom, another example of punishing all gun owners for the actions of an individual murderer. Punishing innocent people does not represent the best of humankind and is not a higher cause that anyone should aspire to.

As for Abrahamson’s claim that the inclusion of shooting and biathlon “normalizes and glamorizes the use of firearms,” well… there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason why the use of firearms should be viewed as abnormal in any way, and there’s nothing wrong with positively portraying skilled marksmanship and responsible firearms use.

“A gun inherently is a violent instrument,” Abrahamson writes. Although acknowledging that swords and bows and arrows (which are also used in Olympic sports) can be violent instruments, he claims “a firearm is different.”

But it really isn’t. Guns, swords, and bows and arrows can all be used for evil purposes. In and of themselves, however, they do not hurt anyone. All types of weapons are simply tools that can be used for evil or good. Guns are more powerful and efficient tools than lower-tech weapons, but that does not make them morally bad or worthy of being singled out.

Abrahamson compares the potential elimination of guns to the change from shooting real pigeons at the 1900 Olympics in Paris to clay pigeons. “In the 21st century,” he writes, “we have to ask – why?” But the question that should be asked with respect to having guns in the Olympics is not “why” but “why not?” Guns do not hurt anyone by existing. Unlike in years past when real birds were killed, today’s competitive shooters do not hurt anyone by practicing their sport. The burden of proof should be on those seeking to get rid of guns, not those seeking to keep them.

Anyone who truly believes in the Olympic values of “excellence, friendship, respect and, by extension, tolerance,” would welcome the inclusion of a wide variety of sports, including shooting. Every sport is going to have detractors for one reason or another, and the beautiful thing is that no one is forced to watch or participate in a sport that he or she does not like. It is wrong for competitive shooters to be deprived of a chance to compete on a world stage, and Olympic fans such as myself to be deprived of the chance to watch amazing contests of marksmanship and skill, because of some people’s personal dislike of guns.

The right thing to do in response to a mass shooting or other tragedy is to punish and blame the person who did it, not to blame the weapon or punish innocent fans and athletes.

H/T: Firearms Policy Coalition Facebook page

bookmark_borderGun rights supporters are not prostitutes

In today’s Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen wrote what is possibly the most offensive column that has ever been written, by any author, in any newspaper or publication.

“If only we really could throw a red challenge flag in the Congress to demand that the paid prostitutes for the NRA would be forced to sit and watch a ceaseless loop of video, replaying every school shooting since Columbine,” he writes. “Maybe a long, extended viewing of this madness, like a video waterboarding, would persuade the frauds in Congress to do their duty.”

He accuses members of Congress of “taking NRA money like gimlet-eyed hookers” and calls people who support the Second Amendment “morally bankrupt,” “utterly corrupt,” and “as nuts as Nikolas Cruz.”

It is infuriating to read and hear again and again, in newspapers, online, and on TV, these repeated personal attacks on people who support gun rights. Some people believe that the answer to mass shootings is to pass laws restricting individual rights in order to make our society safer; some (including myself) believe that individual rights come first. Regardless of what you believe, there is absolutely no reason to call people who hold different opinions “prostitutes” or “hookers” or to suggest that they be subjected to torture. This type of language is beyond offensive and unacceptable.

Enough with the all-too-common assumption that members of Congress who oppose new gun control laws are acting either out of cowardice, or because of donations from the NRA. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible for another person to actually hold an opinion that is different from your own? As difficult as it is to believe, some members of Congress actually believe that their duty is to uphold individual rights, not to sacrifice them in the name of safety. As shocking as this may be, it is possible for a human being to engage in deliberate, rational, independent thought and arrive at a belief that is different from yours. The fact that someone has different moral beliefs than you does not make them insane, corrupt, or morally bankrupt (sticking to one’s beliefs in the face of insults and criticism is the exact opposite of morally bankrupt), and it certainly doesn’t make them a prostitute.