The failure to defend the civil liberties of one is a failure to defend the civil liberties of all. This is particularly true when it is inconvenient or offensive to do so. For the sake of ease and self-interest, it is tempting to simply reason away the rights of others, or even deny their existence, yet the failure to defend the freedoms of others undermines the freedoms of everyone.
When it comes to addressing gun violence, the need to balance Second Amendment rights with gun control measures is no different.
Just as free speech and religious freedom from government persecution are civil liberties, so is the right to own and bear arms. Americans are accustom to hearing the “civil liberty” term attached to Left-wing causes, but that does not disqualify gun rights from their status as civil liberties.
Meanwhile, there is no guaranteed right to own and bear arms throughout much of the world. For nations that do not legally embrace their own version of the Second Amendment, gun rights are not necessarily civil liberty.
Again, this does not disqualify gun rights from their status as civil liberties for US citizens.
Civil liberties, also called cultural or social rights, are fundamental rights afforded to all citizens of a nation. In contrast, human rights, which include many of the civil liberties Americans enjoy, are the rights that the International Community agrees to uphold and guarantee for all people of the world.
Because human rights must be universally agreed upon and enforced, the right to self-defense and the freedom from persecution in the defense of other might be considered human rights, but gun rights are not. The embrace of gun rights is a cultural issue that must be properly debated in every society.
Civil liberties in the United States are derived from the Bill of Rights. Where the First Amendment establishes the freedom of expression as a civil liberty, the Second Amendment enshrines the right to own and bear arms as a civil liberty.
Furthermore, the Second Amendment’s use of the phrase “well-regulated militia” suggests to some that there may be limits on who has gun rights. The phrasing may make the Second Amendment awkward to understand, but it does explicitly require someone to be a member of a militia to enjoy their Second Amendment rights.
A common reading of the Second Amendment would lead almost any American to believe that they have Second Amendment Rights. In fact, the Supreme Court agreed when it decided McDonald v. Chicago (2010).
The “well-regulated militia” clause reads as an attempt to legitimatize the need for gun rights, yet the Second Amendment does not say membership in a militia is necessary. Meanwhile, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extended every Constitutional guarantee to all US citizens.
When it comes to interpreting the US Constitution, whether it is what most traditionally consider a civil right or the rest of the limitations placed on government by the Constitution, it is best to interpret the wording in loose terms in order to avoid denying someone their Constitutional Rights.
Yes, this probably means criminals enjoy some degree of Second Amendment Rights, the right to vote, etc; however, it also means Americans have privacy rights, for example, that were not explicitly written into the text of the Constitution.
Finally, the Second Amendment does not provide an absolute right to own guns nor does it specifically define gun rights, so there is plenty of wiggle room to address gun safety concerns.