With maddening predictability, in the wake of each grievous firearm atrocity the first sound heard nationally is a sudden, collective intake of air: That would be millions of Second-Amendment enthusiasts watching with breathless dread as anti-gun zealots leverage the bloodshed into an attack on their basic, Constitutional right of self-defense. (See: Barack Obama, mere hours after last Thursday’s Umpqua Community College slaughter.)
This, typically, is followed by gun-owners’ sighing in relief whenever mitigating factors are uncovered: the perp’s weapon had been procured illegally; he’d passed a duly administered background check; no current or proposed piece of legislation could have prevented the crime; etc. Some tidbit of information surfaces that we pro-gun types assume will get us “of the hook” of the most recent anti-2A hysteria. Having dodged another bullet (pardon the pun), we’ll survive to conceal-carry for another day.
This pattern repeats itself, tirelessly, again and again — and it’s getting old. Those of us serious about the Constitution and conservative principles need to stopper it.
Let’s admit the facts of life: no matter what, certain misguided individuals are going to employ legally or illegally acquired firearms to carry out perfidiously evil acts.
Violent crimes will be facilitated through use of a gun.
Victims, in some case mere bystanders, will pay with intense suffering, even with their lives.
Mass killings will periodically horrify us.
Dreadful, on-the-ground obscenities, sure enough – but, inhabiting as we do a flawed world stocked with flawed people, on some level they’re inevitable.
There, I said it. Now, let’s keep saying it.
Because that acknowledgment happens to have no bearing — none, zero — on the question of whether men and women should be allowed the God-given capacity to protect themselves and their loved ones via force of arms from predatory evildoers, tyrannical government or other physical threats. Bad actors’ doing bad things with guns is no argument at all against the rest of society’s having ready access to the same for self-defense purposes. It never was a legitimate brief against firearm ownership; it never will be. An emotionally manipulative or knee-jerk debating technique against the Second Amendment? Perhaps. A logical or reasonable one? Never.
There doesn’t exist a positive facet of life that is immune from the possibility of abuse or misuse. Grown-up societies don’t toss away the beneficial because ne’er-do-wells might pervert it into something destructive or ugly. Why not? Because that would mean existence as we know it would come to a a juddering halt.
Once more, we currently dwell in a cracked world; in Christian parlance, a world stained by sin. Time was, this recognition was commonplace, a “but-of-course” viewpoint which shaped how men and women dealt with the unavoidable way things are. Humans do wicked things. The fall-out of that noxious predicament can be exasperating, enervating, excruciating; a wretched state of affairs. But there you have it.
Honorable people can keep a firearm handy as a hedge against some of that potential, unfortunate fall-out. Dishonorable types can resort to the same for dastardly purposes, not fortifying themselves against life’s nastiness but actively contributing to it. All the same, the necessity of the former trumps the possibility — even the likelihood — of the latter; or, I should say, that’s how mature societies formerly judged things.
Nowadays, every time an innocent is cut down by a bullet, millions who would never use ammunition for any such diabolical purpose are hectored they shouldn’t be permitted access to firearms in the first place. It’s a quirky and corrosive approach to complex circumstances we apply almost nowhere else.
— The Military: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things,” penetratingly observed John Stuart Mill. In other words, contrary to the addled, bumper-sticker doggerel that “War Never Solved a Problem”, periodically war is precisely the remedy needed to set matters right.
Also incontrovertibly true: every declaration of war can be made with the certainty that some non-combatants will be caught in the crossfire. Witness the latest, anguished confirmation of that heart-rending guarantee: a Doctor’s Without Borders hospital accidentally hit by American forces in Afghanistan; dozens slain.
No denying, each time such a tragedy unfolds it’s gruesome and grievous — but also inescapable to some degree. The “no-war-ever” option is, of course, no option at all — certainly not in this present, perilous age.
— Money: The Bible fingers “the love of money [as] the root of all evil” — not, as popularly misquoted, “money” itself. Nonetheless, as long as human nature mixes with dollar bills, a particular tranche of the population will end up falling in love with the green stuff; thus, augmenting evil on the earth.
Altogether erasing the presence of “moolah” from civilization might make for “groovy”, late-night, dorm-room speculation, or a goofy, Sci-Fi movie plot-point (eg, Star Trek:First Contact), but it’s Marxist gobbledygook, otherwise. Money ain’t going anywhere; nor should it; because money is not objectively immoral, although immoral individuals will not infrequently put money to iniquitous use. There’s no way around that.
Greed will continue to curdle some men’s souls. Others will sacrifice life’s most important values in the pay of making a buck. These, indeed, are terrible admissions; but banning the greenback or outlawing profit isn’t the solution.
Meanwhile, righteous men and women press on, giving, sharing, doing good with what they earn and what they own.
— Liberty: In all it’s authentic forms, liberty is a blessing. “[P]roclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). Yet, is any principle more distorted or twisted for nefarious purposes than the notion of “freedom”? Some who go to the barricades over the right of “free association” actually turn out to be repugnant racists or dyed-in-the-wool “haters” of the foulest stripe. That’s always a bummer, but liberty leaves that door open, doesn’t it. Uphold my neighbor’s free speech rights? Terrific! But, unfortunately, that further makes way for lots of potentially unpalatable developments like lying, gossip and assorted verbal viciousness.
These are the downsides of liberty — but we endure them because of liberty’s transcendent upsides. Where men are free to be corrupt, they are similarly free to be great. We grudgingly accept the risk of the one, because we long for the flourishing of the other.
So, from the general to the particular: firearms circulating around a planet with it’s share of fools and blackguards will sometimes generate chilling headlines and appalling cruelties. But they’ll also empower a responsible father to under-gird the security of his family; a women entrepreneur to keep safe her business; a property owner to guard his homestead; a vigilant populace to give pause to wannabe despots. These benefits are invaluable and inviolable. They more than validate the right “to keep and bear arms”, notwithstanding whatever unpropitious drawbacks tag along.
Constitutional conservatives mustn’t flinch from expressing these sentiments, repeatedly and passionately. The case for gun-rights is sensible, unapologetic, straightforward. There’s never a need for defensiveness.
Every outrage involving a firearm should — must — be lamented and denounced for what it is: a distressing feature of this off-kilter world we occupy. Having gotten that off our chest upfront, the manifold and prevailing advantages of gun-ownership remain. These must be confidently highlighted and celebrated.