Throughout history, we have been reminded that with rights come corresponding responsibilities.  Tragically, it appears as though a great many of the problems facing us today stem from the failure or complete refusal to exercise our rights in a responsible manner. 

Just this morning, I read an article that a “2-year-old boy was shot(link is external) by his 4-year-old cousin, who was apparently playing with the gun before it discharged.”

According to a Washington Post article(link is external), as of Oct. 20th of this year, toddlers had shot at least 50 people.

Since toddlers are children between 1-3 years of age(link is external), the Washington Post’s statistics won’t change as a result of the above-referenced shooting.

While it’s always risky making assumptions because they’re typically incorrect, I’m willing to take that risk in this instance. 

How do toddlers and young children have access to loaded guns and rifles if their parents or caregivers were exercising their Second Amendment(link is external) right to keep and bear arms in a responsible manner?

Now, I realize that some people might say, as a grandmother did in 2013 after her 5-year-old grandson accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber Crickett rifle he got for his birthday, that “It was God’s will.(link is external)  It was her time to go, I guess.”

With all due respect, in my book, such statements and their underlying beliefs result when the right to “free exercise of religion(link is external)” is embraced in an irresponsible manner.

Was it God’s will that the 5-year-old received the Crickett rifle for his birthday?  Was it God’s will that the children’s “mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes” and left the loaded Crickett rifle accessible to the children?  Does the “free exercise of religion” in such a manner shift responsibility away from parents and guardians by essentially blaming God?  How do we learn from mistakes we don’t admit having made?

Ask yourselves whether gun control would even be an issue if people acted more responsibly? 

The vast majority of Americans favor background checks(link is external) for gun shows and private sales and a significant majority favor laws to prevent mentally ill(link is external) from buying guns. 

Aren’t such gun control laws merely an effort to keep guns out of the hands of those most likely to exercise their right to bear arms irresponsibly?  If those selling guns through gun shows and private sales acted more responsibly, would there even be a need for such gun control?

On June 15th, I published an article titled Those Holding ‘Anti-Gay’ Sentiments(link is external) Need To Stop Making Things Worse By Expressing Outrage Over The Florida Massacre

In that article, I stated the following:

“People who operate from the false premise that being LGBT is behavioral make it appear as though the LGBT community is being unreasonable in its demands for equal rights. After all, according to their beliefs, they are heterosexual people when you remove the behavioral aspect and therefore they needn’t be entitled to any special rights. Such reasoning, in turn, justifies statements such as ‘anti-gay rhetoric - definition: disagreeing with gays about anything.’ 

This is a form of blaming the victim, although not appearing so on its face. The ‘anti-gay’ and ‘anti-LGBT’ rhetoric has resulted in a major increase in violence and abuse against members of the LGBT community. 

People who hold ‘anti-gay’ or ‘anti-LGBT’ sentiments have some nerve expressing sympathy for something that occurred because of their false beliefs and the way in which our society treats members of the LGBT community.  By the way, I use sympathy rather than empathy because sympathy disconnects people, whereas empathy connects them.  There is absolutely nothing about being ‘anti-gay’ or ‘anti-LGBT’ that involves anything other than disconnecting people.”

In response to that article, “a number of people expressed their right to Freedom of Speech(link is external) guaranteed by the First Amendment(link is external) to the United States Constitution.  However, I never said that they can’t say certain things; rather, that they shouldn’t.  With rights come responsibilities.  It is irresponsible to say and do things merely because you have the right to say and do them, particularly when you completely disregard the harm it causes.  

As the violence in our society escalates as a direct result of the way in which such people opt to exercise their Freedom of Speech, they insist that more guns and assault weapons be made available for protection – ‘protection’ from the violence their hatred, disrespect and abuse of others has created.  They once again focus on a constitutionally protected right – the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  As with the constitutionally protected right to Freedom of Speech, they completely disregard the reality that along with rights come responsibilities. They fight against any form of gun control because they believe that the right to keep and bear arms is and should be completely unfettered.”

Mark B. Baer, Esq. is a mediator, collaborative law practitioner, conflict resolution consultant, co-author of Putting Kids First in Divorce, and co-founder of Family Dynamics Assistance Center. He also regularly writes for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.