I recently came across an image on Facebook that sums up the true nature of rights.
To quote George Carlin, “Folks I hate to spoil your fun, but there’s no such thing as rights. They’re imaginary. We made them up. Like the boogie man. Like Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, Mother Goose, shit like that. Rights are an idea. They’re just imaginary.”
If you ask 10 different people to list the rights every human being has, you’ll almost certainly end up with 10 different lists. This is because rights are a concept that exist solely in our heads. One person may believe that each individual has a right to keep and bear arms. Another person may believe that each individual has a right to safety, which they may also believe trumps any claims that there is a right to keep and bear arms.
I’m fond of saying that you have what rights you can convince others to acknowledge. You only have a “right” to free speech if you can convince others not to interfere with your speech. You only have a “right” to a refuse a search if you can convince others not to search you. When proponents of the Second Amendment write or call politicians, they’re trying to convince those politicians to agree with the concept that each individual has a right to keep and bear arms. While most proponents of the Second Amendment won’t admit that there really isn’t a right to keep and bear arms, they acknowledge this fact through their actions of requesting that politicians not violate their right (any further). Less a gun control advocate jump up and scream, “Ah ha,” let me also point out that proponents of the First Amendment, which many gun control advocates claim to be, acknowledge the fact that they don’t have a right to free speech every time they request that politicians not violating their right (any further).
Rights, like laws, may exist on paper but their existence stops there. If you can convince others to respect your concept of rights, then your concept of rights perhaps won’t be violated. But if you fail to convince others to respect your rights, your concept of rights will be violated.