George Graham

When “Rights” Collide


I don’t imagine any reasonable person thinks it’s OK to settle a verbal dispute by violence. So when I exercise my First Amendment right, you don’t have the right to shoot me.

That’s how I would sum up the gun control debate that’s sure to be revived in the aftermath of yesterday’s massacre in the Capital Gazette newsroom.

I spent my working life in newsrooms, and what we wrote did not always sit well with readers. But, thankfully. nobody ever showed up with guns blazing to make their point.

Oh, I’ve been shoved about. Readers have sometimes been quite robust in expressing their frustration. Some got quite physical. But, as luck would have it, none of them was bearing arms at the time.

Yes, Americans have the right to bear arms. Not because the Constitution says so. Because the Supreme Court took it upon itself to bestow that right.

The Constitution refers to a “well armed militia,” not to individuals.

And it wasn’t a militia that stormed the newsroom in Maryland yesterday and murdered five innocent journalists. It was an individual American¬† who obviously should not have been allowed anywhere near a firearm.

I shouldn’t have to argue that some people are unfit to use guns. I shouldn’t have to point out that military grade weapons belong on the battlefield and in police stations, not in private homes.

The tide of blood that has been flowing in America – even in schools and churches – should already provide a convincing argument.

But there’s a lot of money to be made selling guns. And the interests making the money spend a lot of it influencing lawmakers and spreading pro-gun propaganda.

So common sense gun control remains beyond our reach. And innocent blood is shed – again and again and again…

More on the latest massacre

The five victims

The suspect

US gun violence – the facts

¬†Supreme Court’s decision

Gun rights – pro and con

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for