Not Guns, But Evil

There is no getting around the unspeakably shocking nature of the crimes against humanity committed in Newtown, Connecticut.  And one thing that gun control advocates are saying is correct.  This is indeed the time for a serious discussion on the issue of guns.  But not nearly the way the left wants the argument framed.

We need to be talking not about the crimes, but the people who commit them and what causes them.  And it is safe to say that no one believes this or any other mass murder was the weapon’s idea.  Nor does even the theoretical elimination of all guns assure that such crimes will no longer occur.

Why?  Because this is not about guns.  It’s about evil.  The catchwords from the old Shadow radio show actually ring true: who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

You don’t have to be an actively or even passively religious person to believe that evil exists in this world.  For evil is like the wind.  You can not actually see it or actually even prove it exists, but you can certainly sense it, feel it and see its effects.  You need not draw a conclusion on the source of evil to admit its existence.  Nor must you draw a distinction between mass murderers who are evil themselves and those who are gripped by evil.

But evil is absent from this debate because so many who have long advocated for more gun control choose to deny or ignore its existence.  As GK Chesterton said, “people reject the idea of original sin when it is the only doctrine of Christianity that can be empirically proven.”  Just look around you.

So the focus of reform is not on the cause, but on its effects, as if that will end, or even stem the tide, of these tragedies.

The crazed murderer who took the lives of 27 people used stolen guns, but he could just as easily have used knives like the attacker at a Chinese school on the same day as Newtown.  He could have used a homemade bomb, like the Unibomber, the Oklahoma City bomber and the man who executed the school slaughter in 1927 that claimed even more lives than Newtown.  And he could have used any number of other explosive devices.

Blaming the gun is like blaming the car or the bottle when a drunk driver runs someone over.   And just as with the drunk driver, we need to do all we can to prevent him from driving drunk again, but not at the expense of penalizing innocent drivers in the process.  And we must recognize and treat the problem that caused the death.

There will always be guns because there will always be criminals and there will always be people wanting to protect themselves from the type of evil so brutally manifested in Newtown.

Ask yourself this question: how good is a law that makes things harder for the innocent and easier for the guilty?  Because that’s what gun control laws generally do.  Criminals are criminals by definition because they don’t obey the law, while the 95 percent or more of legitimate gun owners are law-abiding.

Here is another question for you to consider.  If your wife or mother is home alone at night, what makes you feel more comfortable, for her to be armed or unarmed?  Please answer honestly.

After all, guns change the nature of transactions.  As blogger Marko Kloos has written, In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

Does this mean we should not favor sensible laws relating to the possession of guns by the mentally ill, wife abusers and felons convicted of violent crimes?  Of course not.  It means that we don’t pass laws that punish the 95% for the sake of the 5% who are not willing or able to obey them anyway.

Given that what we’re trying to prevent is crime, the question we should be asking is whether gun control results in crime control.  Truth is that there is no real evidence that it does.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Vermont, for example, has very few gun laws, and very little gun-related crime.  Washington DC and Chicago, with about the strictest regime of gun laws in the nation, have had about the highest rates of gun-related crime (though such crimes have dropped considerably in DC since the Heller decision that certified the right of individuals to possess firearms).  And across the board, there has been no measurable correlation between strict gun laws and lower crime rates.  In fact, as our own Rick Sincere points out, higher rates of gun ownership worldwide correlate to lower rates of homicide.

Indeed, gun control of the type consistently championed by the left deals with the effect and not the cause, and is both unconstitutional and ineffective.  In fact, it’s beyond ineffective, because the very few crimes new laws might prevent would be far outweighed by those that will become less likely to be prevented – there are at least 2.5 million defensive uses of guns per year – not to mention the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms which will be incrementally stripped from tens of millions of law-abiding citizens.

In the end, while some who seek to increase gun control laws may be well-intentioned, they are ultimately misguided and naive in advancing the proposition that it is guns, rather than people animated by evil, who are perpetrating these horrifying mass murders, and that laws making it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from despicable and demented criminals will actually reduce crime.