Saturday, December 15, 2012
Mass Shooting in Conneticut - A Tragedy of Liberty
The American legacy of firearms predates the founding of our nation. A man's musket or rifle was an essential tool in the early days, much like a hammer or a stirring spoon. It brought home dinner. It provided a defense. It was valuable in multiple ways. It acted as a deterrent. As our nation became more populated, it allowed us to form militias for the common defense and eventually enabled us to conquer the wilds of an entire continent (whether righteously or not.)
But the firearm was more than just a tool used as described above. It was a symbol to those early Americans. It was power. During the old west it was said that "God made man and Samuel Colt made them equal." This very mindset describes perfectly the thoughts of early Americans. And the tyranny of the British Crown also made them leery of strong and overbearing governments. Thus for nearly two hundred years, the American people felt that "no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" That was said by Thomas Jefferson.
Our culture, the American culture, teeters on a fulcrum, carefully balanced between social order and freedom. Over time all societies give up certain freedoms in order to maintain culture. For example, most civilized countries have speed limits. We accept the loss of our freedom to go as fast as we damn well want in order to protect society in general.
But the issue of gun control, of restricting access to firearms, is a difficult freedom to allow to be usurped. Many Americans already feel that the government has grown too powerful, too large, and in some cases, is already violating the intent behind the original founder's Constitution. We have justices who arbitrarily make decisions based not on what is constitutional, but on what they believe is right for society. As we've discussed before, the whole point of the American Constitution is to prevent one generation from radically altering government and economic policy in nationwide experiments. Unfortunately, this safeguard is being eroded from the inside.
Americans who honor the ideals of Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers, and recognize that remaining armed not only is essential to halt the ever encroaching tyranny of an out of control government, will never support giving those firearms up. There would be revolution. And those that demand an unarmed populace always seem to support the concept of bigger government intrusion. So America, as always will remain on that fulcrum.
But what of these mass shootings? I admit that when I heard of the shooting in Connecticut, I burst into tears. It was too much. Even now, if I think about it too hard, I find myself getting choked up. It isn't just evil, it is beyond that. And right now I can't even comprehend why this man could possible do this. As a father of four, two of which are near the age of those kindergartners, I can't begin to fathom the horror those twenty families are enduring right now. Even imagining it, and without the actual loss, sends me to my knees.
The fact is however, that America doesn't have a gun problem. We have a mental illness problem, and possibly a cultural one. And unfortunately, the same issues that revolve around gun ownership are intimately involved in identifying mentally unstable people. The freedoms that millions of people enjoy are uniquely damaged should we give the government the right to seize or prevent firearms purchases based upon a doctor's recommendation. Could you imagine not realizing that your doctor is a liberal, going in for a basic checkup, and having the doctor decide that you are a right-wing religious nutjob, and thus reporting you to the authorities? A warrant would be issued for the seizure of your weaponry and you would be placed on watch-lists and denied fire-arm ownership applications. You would be forced to spend thousands of dollars in court costs to PROVE your mental soundness, and when you got your guns back, all you would get was an apology from government?
And perhaps there is another spectral cause looming in America's shadow. Over the last sixty years, as secular progressives have steadily and consistently undermined Christian values in our society, it is possible that the next generation of Americans are moral relativists. They do not see right and wrong as functions of a higher state of mind, but as ideological nonsense, based solely on the cultural concepts of an ordered society. They fear no higher power, no God with whom their actions will be judged. They strive not for arriving at the Gates of St. Peter with an open and loving heart, but for hedonistic delight. We are, in other words, creating a society of people who care nothing for their fellow man. Empathy is slowly doomed as we separate ourselves technologically and emotionally from our neighbors. Secular law can only go so far, since it can not punish the dead.
Will America turn away from it's legacy of firearms? No. It will self destruct first and admittedly I will be on the side owning guns. Will there be a more intensive look into mental illness in an attempt to medically identify problems before they become tragedies? Probably. But will these mass shootings ever stop? No, and my heart breaks with the knowledge, that in order to ensure our freedom, we are going to have to accept these rare instances where the devil himself possesses someone of ill intent, and reminds us of the cost of liberty.