The past few weeks have been heart-rending ones when it comes to mass violence. There was a synagogue shooting in a place of worship (and a gun free zone). There was a yoga studio shooting in what was a place of peace (and another gun free zone). And most recently there was a shooting at country western bar hosting college students in a place of fun (and also a gun free zone).
The common thread here is evil men attacking innocent people in a place where they felt “safe”. Except they weren’t safe. They were sitting ducks in “gun free” zones – gun free for everyone except the shooter, that is.
The response to horrific acts of evil has always been to attempt to control evil by controlling the tools that evil uses. But evil cannot be contained by removing objects from the hands of men – because those tools are also used by innocent men for peaceful purposes.
Attempts have been made to control Evil by identifying it BEFORE it acts. But evil does not usually wear an evil face. Evil cannot always be picked out of a crowd in advance. This is why mass shooters have passed background checks before they commit their deeds of destruction.
The only viable path is for good men and women to resolve to take up the defense of other innocent life. It is a solemn responsibility and commitment that many in this country are not willing to undertake. Those people prefer to let government, and thus law enforcement to take on the role of protective parent, while they remain in a child-like submissive state.
Many people have been wrongly trained into a black and white view of violence. They believe that ALL violence is evil, and cannot imagine themselves using any form of violence even in a defensive role, even to save a member of their own family.
Many people naively believe that they can reason with evil and that evil men will respond to kindness, rather than strength. What these kinds of people refuse to recognize is that evil is NOT rational. It is selfish, and motivated by neither love nor logic. Evil only responds to strength and force, the strength and force of good men and women willing to defend the innocent.
People fear that if they take up arms that they themselves will become “evil”. But virtually every major religious tradition maintains that it is not a sin to take a life if it is in defense of other innocent life, including one’s own. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christians can’t protect themselves or their family. What we should never do though, is seek revenge. We must be slow to anger and handle all situations with wisdom. Despite his rhetoric, even the Pope himself has an army of Swiss Guards, armed with fully-automatic weapons, to defend him from attack.
There are no simple solutions for the actions of evil in the world. Controlling tools is “easier” than controlling human behavior, but that path is ineffective and naïve. Controlling the tool only ties the hands of innocent men and women. What is effective, when evil takes its deadly walk among us, is confronting that evil, where it stands and when it acts, with deadly force and nothing less.