Let’s start with the obvious; what happened last week was unthinkable. Literally impossible for a rational mind to comprehend. Even serial killers understand some measure of restraint, even sociopaths tend to target perceived enemies, not innocent children. Even atheists should be able to agree that the murders of these children are nothing short of evil in nature and effect. This leads some people to doubt God’s existence or deny His love for us, but we have always known evil was in this world. Surely the history we learned of the Gulags, of the Nazis, of Slavery and lynchings and mob violence and the Inquisition, of purges and wars of extermination, surely these make clear that there is evil in the world, a force that hates all mankind and all that is good. And surely we know that the source of much of this evil is our own selves. Man imagines evil, he contemplates it and designs it and brings it into being for his own malicious purpose. And yet, we continue to be surprised when evil is revealed again in some horrible new manner. Our enemy is the evil in men’s hearts.
President Obama spoke last night on the crime, and correctly observed that we can do better as a people, and must. But new laws will not provide the answer, nor will taking away rights from those who obey laws. The change must be in hearts, and in all hearts, not just those with whom we disagree. It makes one feel better to blame ‘them’ for injustice and evil, but it changes nothing that matters. Banning guns will only allow criminals and the insane to murder without fear of resistance. Punishing the mentally ill on no evidence beyond one rare case is ethically unconscionable. In the end, this is not a matter for compulsion or for restriction, but for dialogue and common sense.
Guns are scary things, tool made to kill and harm. Yet personal firearms have helped to make cities safer and allow private citizens the means of self defense against crime. Where in the past the numbers of a gang of thieves, or inequities in weight and muscle allowed thugs to terrorize peaceable people, the gun has been a force equalizer, a sure deterrent against violence when used properly. Indeed, President Obama himself knows this; the fact that his bodyguards are well armed with guns helps dissuade potential enemies from attempting to harm him. Yet the President has not offered to disarm the Secret Service, nor would any sober citizen suggest such an action. So we may give Mister Obama the benefit of the doubt, that he understands that restricting the rights of American citizens is both immoral and useless to the intent of preventing a future massacre. There is no danger at all of ordinary people going on murderous rampages, none whatsoever that housewives, fathers, businessmen, hunters, and the other millions of responsible gun owners will suddenly kill their neighbors with the guns they have used responsibly for years. On the other hand, there are literally hundreds of millions of guns in existence, so even if all guns were banned, the odds that such an action would prevent criminals – who by definition ignore the law – from obtaining guns is laughably naïve, were it not for the grim fact that such an action would leave millions of potential victims helpless and at the mercy of men known to me ruthless and inhuman. One terrible fact we are compelled to observe if we wish to avoid such terrors in the future, is that mass murderers do not seek out the military or police for their rage. Instead, they seek places where they know they will be the only persons armed. The NewTown school massacre, the Aurora cinema killings, the Luby’s murders in Killeen, and the Virginia Tech shootings were all locations where people were legally barred from carrying guns, and so they had no means to defend themselves. This was a deliberate choice made by the killers, because the killers were both evil and cowards, intending to kill at no risk of facing resistance. If we really want to fight evil, if we really want to prevent another such horror, we must accept the fact that just one armed and trained citizen with a gun at any of these places could have saved a great many innocent lives. A gun in the hands of an evil person can lead to the deaths of innocents, but in the hands of a responsible citizen, the gun can be a vital tool in saving lives. That’s why police carry firearms, after all, but we neither need nor want a police state. Citizens carried the responsibility many years ago, and could do so again with relatively little difficulty or expense.
Guns are not evil by nature. Refusing to defend children, however, is not good.