Guns and Evil
I usually agree with Jim Schutze, from the Dallas Observer. Not always, but usually, especially on local stuff. But today he revealed a level of idealism and naivete that’s pretty shocking for someone of his…experience. Writing about the recent machete murder at White Rock Lake, he says:
If the violence all around us in the world is really moral, rather than psychological or social, then I don’t want to respond to it by plunging into the same moral gutter myself. Then I know that the only answer is true and profound moral change, which doesn’t include me with a Glock on my hip.
But without that gun, am I not vulnerable to evil? Yes. And I am vulnerable with the gun. That’s where the gun-nuts have a point. Evil cannot be defeated by gun control. What they miss is that evil cannot be defeated by guns. Guns are merely an appurtenance to evil, an aid, a thing to make it easier and more efficient. We rely on guns because we give up, cede the fight to evil and join right in.
I will only be more safe, my loved ones will only be more safe and the world more safe when virtue grows mighty and evil starves. Nothing else offers hope. How do we get there with guns on our hips? C’mon. You know that one.
I have beef.
- an accessory or other item associated with a particular activity or style of living.
“all the appurtenances of luxurious travel”
Are guns “merely an [accessory associated with] evil”? Is their only function to make evil “easier and more efficient”? What then of those guns that led to the American Revolution? Or those that ended slavery through the Civil War? Or those that ended the Holocaust, or that protect the president?
Guns are really just accessories to evil? Well, I guess if you consider all violence to be evil, then you would have to think so. But how do you sustain that opinion? How can a grown man be so idealistic?
Jim – if you ever find your way here (let me know if you do, I’m a fan) – I’m going to say something I think you already know, but don’t want to acknowledge: Evil is just a part of humanity. “Evil” isn’t really even that; it’s just a set of activities that we’ve decided (over millenia) that we don’t like. But in truth we’re animals striving to survive, and once we’ve found survival, we want comfort and dominance. But the concepts of Good and Evil aren’t written in our DNA, or in our world. They’re written by our society. And as deep as society can get into the psyche of the individual, they rarely remove the animal from the man.
I say all that to say that what we call “evil” is no more concrete a concept than what we call humor. It’s culturally determined, and only really makes sense in a particular context. Evil will always exist, because its definition and classification are arbitrary. We take our impulses, and attempt to decide which are constructive and which are destructive – to the individual, to our society, and to the world – and then we label them. And then in 10 years (more likely, 10 minutes) another group will come along, question our conclusions, and relabel them. In the West, 1000 years ago homosexuality was evil. 100 years ago it was taboo. Today it’s morally neutral. And right along side, it was once morally good to expose homosexuals and have them expelled from the community. Not just acceptible, but morally good. And today it’s morally repugant; it’s evil.
So how can you be so confident in taking an entire set of behaviors and not only labeling them evil, but labeling the tools associated with them as evil? What about the event at r hand? Would it have been an act of evil to save the victim by violently removing the attacker? Even if he was only wounded and restrained? What if the gun was effectively used as a deterrent without ever being fired? What if…what if…what if.
Jim, this is too complex a question to simply say “guns are a tool of evil, so we can’t use them to fight evil.” You might as well say the same thing about words. But don’t, because words are awesome.