On the face of it, liberal arguments for gun control are utterly irrational, with no redeeming value whatsoever, except, perhaps, the good intentions that we charitably allow are genuine. The internal inconsistencies of the arguments, and the complete detachment from reality that they represent, leave one baffled. The position can be understood, however, if you lay hold of the central guiding principle that drives all the rest of it.
Let’s consider some of the strange things that are often said in favor of gun control. The first one is one that will gain new significance by the end of this essay. It goes basically like this: we need gun control laws to prevent gun-related crime. The argument is plainly incoherent–a person who is prepared to commit a gun-related crime is already prepared to circumvent any additional laws. The actual effect of any gun control laws must always be the disarmament of law-abiding individuals (the only ones who would obey such laws) and rendering them defenseless against those who, by definition, could not care less about gun control laws.
Another argument invokes ‘public health.’ It certainly is true that in regions with a disarmed citizenry, gun-related homicides drop. But other crime rates increase, such as assault and battery, rape, and so on. It’s not that the numbers of violent criminals decrease. If anything, more criminals are emboldened to use violence, because they have less to fear from their victims.
But the public health argument rings especially hollow when we look in vain for the kind of outrage at car accidents, drownings, stabbings, etc, that we see with gun incidents. In the face of such disproportionate reactions, I find this CDC database a good reality check.
And finally, the vapid inconsistency of the pro-gun control position is laid bare when we ask them how it is they plan on enforcing such laws, or preventing terrorism, or standing up to hostile foreign states, when all three categories are chock full of “gun totin'” ‘bitter clingers.’ And then we find out that the liberals aren’t opposed to guns so much as they are opposed to guns in private hands. The Government can have as many as they like.
There is a big problem with this. The ‘Government’ is still composed of humans, and humans, whether in the government or not, are just as fallible as any other human. The idea that the Government (read: humans) could become emboldened to murder, assault, or rape the citizenry should it be disarmed is deemed laughable by liberals, despite the clear testimony of history that this is more the rule than the exception. And by history I include, like, as recently as last week.
The greatest public health threat involving lethal force is not the school shooter, or the mobster, or the thug. Go ahead and do the math if you like. Add up all ‘private’ homicides that you can document and compare it to ‘murder by government’. The latter far surpasses the former in every century of human history. Despite this verifiable fact of history, there is still cackling when it is proposed that such a thing could ever happen in the so-called ‘civilized’ countries, such as the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and so on. But there are reasons why these countries are ‘civilized,’ and it has a lot to do with checks and balances–nearly all of which have been stripped away, or are being stripped away, in every country named. The values that made these countries ‘free’ have in many ways been outright repudiated by moderns. ‘Murder by Government’ may happen overnight, but the conditions that make it possible in the first place sometimes stew for decades.
So, how is it that liberals have no objection to an armed government but pull their hair out if private individuals want to be able to defend themselves and their families? Why can’t they accept very simple, virtually self-evident logical truisms, such as ‘law breakers won’t obey gun laws’? Let me explain.
The reason why they contort themselves so violently to avoid obvious truths is because there is one Obvious Truth that they fear most of all.
To concede that the force of law is inadequate to check human violence is to concede that there is something very sick about the human race. Liberals tend to view humans as just another kind of animal, a herd, if you will, that can be managed by careful conditioning. Think Pavlov and his dog. If you just pass a law, they think, they can, through indoctrination and public health campaigns, end crime, increase happiness, and so on. Humans don’t actually function this way, and never will, but to acknowledge this is to acknowledge certain facts about what it means to be human that undercut their entire worldview.
Their allowance that the government will have to be armed represents a pragmatic concession to reality that simultaneously reflects their hope in Progress. The reality is that the world is filled with tyrants, dictators, corrupt generals, roaming militia armies, terrorists, and the like, and not even the silliest liberal believes that these people will lay down their weapons just because someone wags their finger at them. Thus, they reluctantly allow that the government must be armed for the same reason that gun rights people believe that they need to be armed: despite whatever we wish were the case, there are bad people out there that can only be stopped by violence, or the threat of violence, that is equal to that which the bad people would themselves like to inflict.
Liberals allow for an armed government because they know that regimes like North Korea will not be deterred by a posted sign, “Do not invade.” Just like a “No gun” sign will not deter an active shooter.
The difference in all this is that the liberal cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that there really is a bad person.
If they did, then they would allow for the very real possibility that a person in government could also be bad. They would recognize that it is not just possible–but a continual occurrence in history–for groups of bad people to take the reins of power in their city, region, or country, and then do very bad things.
But to acknowledge that there are bad people and that there are genuinely bad things is to bring one face to face with the existence of a objective standard, and the patently obvious fact that humanity collectively falls short of that standard at every turn. In short, it would mean acknowledging not only that there are bad people, but that they themselves are a bad person, indeed, that we are all bad–everyone of us.
Here, then, is the reason why there isn’t outrage over ‘public health’ tragedies that have injuries and fatalities that often far exceed gun-related homicides. A crashed up automobile does not challenge one’s conception of a human. Nor do pool drownings. It is often said in retort that the difference is that guns intrinsically have only one purpose–to kill. (That is not true; most people with guns have good reason to believe that the mere presence of the gun makes the use of the gun unnecessary.) Guns certainly do have an intrinsic element to them that do not exist in regards to car crashes and drownings: their mere existence calls attention to the fact that there are bad people who cannot be stopped any other way than to kill them.
The liberals hope, without good reason, that by taking away the guns, they will obscure the real truth about human nature.
All this talk about there being ‘bad’ people puts the liberal right at the edge of a dangerous implication. (Dangerous to their worldview, that is.)
Long before liberals resisted the plain logical rebuttals to their gun control laws, they resisted the plain logical fact that it is nonsensical to talk about anything being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ if there isn’t some kind of objective standard. No one, not even a liberal, actually lives as though there isn’t a real good, because even they understand that it would be a demented person indeed who thought that “I think vanilla ice cream is bad” and “I think murdering humans is bad” is substantially the same kind of statement.
But to acknowledge this is to recognize immediately that we have all fallen short of a standard that must transcend humans themselves.
The Obvious Truth lurks behind every turn: there is a God, and we are not Him. God made us Good, but everyone of us has Fallen. We are in desperate need of a Savior.
The liberal senses the need of a Savior as much as anyone else, but since acknowledging the Obvious Truth is intolerable to them,* they flail about in search of another one. Thus, in the end, they come to believe that the Government can be that Savior, history be damned.
I see the above reasoning working in reverse in my own life. One of my most ‘liberal’ perspectives that I had growing up was that we should have more gun control. At the same time I was digging deep into my study of history, and in particular the rise of Nazism, Communism, and Fascism, I was confronted with G.K. Chesterton’s assertion that original sin “is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.”
Proved empirically, mind you. And not just in the world ‘out there,’ but in my own heart.
As my conviction grew that humans were by nature fallen (which necessarily implies a high station from which to fall from!), my conviction grew that no human–whether in the Government or out of it–should be allowed unchecked access to power.
Theoretically, someone could come to this conclusion without also endorsing genuinely liberal gun laws, but we are far from having such a conversation. Where we stand now is a host of people living in abject defiance of reality as it really is: denying the nature of criminals, the nature of humanity, the real history of Government, the existence of an objective moral law–which we have all fallen short of, and the plain implication that if there is an objective moral law there is an objective moral law giver: the Obvious Truth.
And finally, the real fact that we need a Savior, and no legislation or policy initiative or health department program will ever, by virtue of being human (read: corrupted), will be able to do the job. Thus, Gun Control laws represent one aspect of the secular equivalent of the Gospel, except devoid of Reason. Once Reason is brought to bear, we inexorably arrive at a point where we need real good news, a real Gospel.
And there is only one Contender.
* usually because they feel it would stifle their sex lives, but sometimes also because they desperately want to rob from the rich with a clean conscience.