The thing that burns me up about debates about gun control is the attitude that we are only kept safe by well-meaning bureaucrats passing good intentioned laws that of course are followed by all the nice citizens. The insinuation is that people who want guns are violent people; the mere fact that they want or have one is proof positive that they are suspect individuals. They are unstable folk that you need to keep your eye on.
The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.
I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.
The fact is, the reason why Jesus is compelling is not that he was a sissy pacifist, but rather that he was overwhelmingly mighty, but, to accomplish a particular deed, he set aside his aggressiveness and took whatever was thrown at him. He could have overthrown the gates of Hades by force, but only by laying down his arms did he not only defeat Hades but also freed its prisoners.
When a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his fellows, all except a handful of Ayn Randian objectivists applaud his valor. Here, to save his fellows it would have done no good to charge out of the trench when the grenade tumbled in and kill those who tossed the grenade. Here, only self-sacrifice could achieve the goal, but it did not follow that the soldier was soft and tender in spirit. You see, it depends a great deal on the circumstances and what one wants to achieve. There is a time for aggressiveness but there is also a time for meekness. The problem is knowing exactly which time it is. (Ecc. 3)