“If you are for gun control, then you are not against guns, because the guns will be needed to disarm people. So it’s not that you are anti-gun. You’ll need the police’s guns to take away other people’s guns. So you’re very pro-gun; you just believe that only the Government (which is, of course, so reliable, honest, moral and virtuous…) should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small political elite and their minions.”
― Stefan Molyneux
Once again the United States has suffered a horrible mass shooting. A lunatic got his hands on a gun and murdered children.
The circumstances of the shooting are now widely known in the public. Authorities were warned repeatedly about Nikolas Cruz and did nothing. Even more absurdly, some police officers reportedly hid during the shooting.
But regardless of these failures, these mass shootings have become common in the modern United States: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Las Vegas, the Sutherland Springs church, and now Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
It's gotten to the point now where mass shootings are almost expected. They've gone from unfathomable and shocking to a regularly-occurring natural disaster -- like hurricanes or earthquakes. The difference, of course, is that insane human beings using mass-produced weapons are behind these tragedies. They aren't natural disasters. They are completely unnatural. They are the depths of human evil.
As a result, people around the nation are once again calling for increased gun control: more background checks, getting rid of bump stocks, raising the purchase age to 21, and even outright banning "assault weapons." At face value, these suggestions seem reasonable. People should feel safe in church, at concerts, at movie theaters, and at school.
At the same time, however, it's worth at least thinking through what new gun laws mean -- especially those that seek to restrict the sale or ownership of certain weapons. It's not enough to just demonize the NRA and say that "Congress needs to do something!" Let's actually think about what gun control is. What is actually being advocated? What is the philosophy being applied and what would the real-life consequences be for implementing new legislation?
If the government were to outright ban the possession of the Colt AR-15, that means that American citizens would be forbidden from owning that rifle -- regardless of their intentions.
And what does "forbidden" really mean?
Laws have little meaning unless they are actually enforced. People have to be physically forced to not have possession of a machine. And how do you safely force someone with a gun to comply? You need more people with more guns. And if a lot of people are not giving up their AR-15s, you need to draft more people and buy more guns to force them to give up their guns.
Even in the cases when people do give up their guns without incident, why would they be doing so? Because they voluntarily want to get rid of their weapons in the name of some pacifist utopia? Or because they fear being kidnapped or murdered by government stormtroopers if they do not comply?
Mass shootings are horrible. Real people die. Human lives end. Families, communities, and the world suffers.
But government violence against the citizenry is no less tragic. Ruby Ridge, Waco, police riots, and the also-regular murder of unarmed civilians by police officers are all horrible. And enacting gun confiscation measures will only exacerbate that kind of violence.
The Drug War was always pursued with the most noble ideals in mind: preventing innocent men, women and children from falling into addiction.
But look at the reality of the Drug War. It helped prolong and adapt institutional racism for generations. It has ruined innumerable lives. It has sent millions of people to prison. It has eroded civil liberties, militarized the police, and also created a thriving black market for drugs that operates via ruthless violence.
Why would gun control be any different? How would the Gun War not have all of the same consequences of the Drug War? And why would it be any more successful?
Gun control via the legislature is doomed to failure because that kind of gun control is just another form of gun violence: If you do not give up your gun, then a gun will be used against you.
How is that a civilized solution? How is that actually spreading peace or love? It isn't. It's spreading fear through the barbaric threat of violence.
So how do we combat mass shootings?
Certainly there are lots of potential answers to that question. Maybe it involves increasing security at schools. Maybe it involves reimagining what schools should be in the era of information technology. Maybe it means more outreach to people who have mental health issues. Maybe it involves more community engagement in every town across the country. Maybe it involves limiting the weapons that the government is producing every single day. Maybe it involves a mental and spiritual shift as a culture away from violence and towards enlightenment.
Or maybe it's something else entirely.
But whatever the solution is, one thing is clear: if we really want to end gun violence, if we really do want a world that operates via principles like love and understanding, we cannot turn to government enforcers for a solution. Guns will not silence guns. There will never be a war to end all wars.
Individuals and communities must voluntarily turn their swords into plowshares. You cannot force them to do so via the barrel of a gun.