• D. Randall Faro

Rights Are Not Always Right

Individual rights are fine and dandy . . . unless the exercise of such tramples the rights of others and/or is detrimental to society as a whole.


Claiming the right to refuse to take an ill child to a doctor based on parental religious rights has led to the death of children. Numerous states have ruled that protecting children takes precedence over individual rights.


Refusing to have one’s child vaccinated against various diseases can put the whole community at a greater risk. In the state of Massachusetts in 1901 a smallpox epidemic provided the occasion for a legal challenge to the state's compulsory vaccination law. This led to a landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court in the case of Jacobson versus Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which established the government's right to use its ‘police powers' in order to control epidemic disease. In its seven-to-two decision, the Court affirmed the right of the people, through their elected representatives, to enact “health laws of every description to protect the common good.” A claim to individual rights, in this case, was judged to take a back seat to public health.


Americans possess nearly half of the civilian-owned guns worldwide. Americans own more guns per capita than residents of any other country in the world. The United States is a world leader in per capita deaths by firearms, and gun homicide rates are twenty-five times higher than in any other high-income country. Americans also lead the world in mass shootings, including school shootings. All this due to the supposed right for individuals to own firearms.


Countries with strict gun control laws have far, far lower rates in all the above categories.

Facts are facts. So my question is: why do so many Americans seem to value the possession of guns more than they do human life . . . particularly the lives of children?


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