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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Heart is Exceedingly Wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)

It had to happen. Shortly after the media first reported the Virginia Tech massacre, people started saying that this incident proved that the current level of gun control in the United States was woefully inadequate.

On the subject of gun control, I should say from the outset that I'm hardly what one would call a "gun fanatic". I've never owned a gun in my life, unless one counts the BB guns which were given to me as gifts when I was very young. The last time I used a gun was more than 30 years ago, when my father took me hunting for rabbits and squirrels (with a .22 rifle) and quail (with a shotgun). I have no relationship whatsoever with the NRA.

So it isn't any vested interest, pertaining to guns, which causes me to point out the inanity of the tired and specious arguments once again being trotted out in favor of stiffer gun laws. According to the gun control people, if we just abolished the Constitutional right to bear arms, incidents such as the recent massacre at Virginia Tech would be abolished or significantly curtailed.

Hmmm, let's examine the plausibility of that argument.

The killer, Cho Seung-Hui, killed 32 people, plus himself. Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 15 and 30 additional people were injured. (Actually, the highest estimate I've heard, in terms of nonlethal injuries, was 29. But I'm being generous for the sake of this argument.)

Horrible? Of course. Tragic? Absolutely. Preventable? Perhaps. But eliminating every handgun from the planet would not have prevented Cho Seung-Hui from killing numerous people. He would simply have found another way to do it.

People have been killing one another since time immemorial. Elizabeth (Erzs├ębet) Bathory, for instance, is a Hungarian countess believed by some to have killed hundreds of young women. Even the lowest estimates of her killings surpass the number of people recently killed by Cho Seung-Hui. Did Bathory use guns in any of those killings? No. It's arguable that shooting her victims would have been far more merciful than the shockingly cruel methods she used.

Wikipedia says that the total number of fatalaties in the Oklahoma City bombing was 168, and the total number of injuries was more than 800 people. (For those without ready access to a calculator, that's an average of 56 killings per person plus roughly 266 additional injuries per person, based on the fact that there were 3 killers involved.)

Would illegalizing guns have prevented that tragedy? No. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier didn't need guns in order to kill and injure far more people than Cho Seung-Hui ever dreamed of killing.

One of the primary ingredients in the bombs used in Oklahoma City was fertilizer. Strangely, I don't see the gun control crowd calling for the illegalization of fertilizer.

The debate over gun control is not an abstract academic exercise. The outcome of that debate is of vital importance to our society's future.

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem and prescribing a false and ultimately useless solution is that the real solution is overlooked or minimized.

Blaming the tool with which a killer chooses to kill is idiotic. Many items which can be used to kill also have benign uses, some of which can even be used to save lives. (Fertilizer, for example, is useful in growing crops and combatting famine.)

The real issue, it seems to me, is a matter of the human heart. Cho Seung-Hui was seething with hatred. (If you don't believe me, just look at the photos he sent to NBC, or read the sick things he had written.) So why weren't his obvious mental problems addressed long before things got to this point?

At one time, there was what might be called a Christian consensus in this country. It wasn't universal, of course. There's never been a time in history where that was the case. And we've had our blind spots (as in the case of slavery and racial bigotry). Nevertheless, there was a time when there was an overall sense of unity in our communities. Shared moral values enabled us to speak out boldly against things generally regarded as sinful.

Now, thanks to constant activism on the part of the ACLU and other liberal groups which distort and misconstrue portions of our Constitution, we live in a society where "tolerance" has become a euphemism which is synonymous for the complete absence, on the part of many people, of anything resembling a backbone. God forbid that we should be called "judgmental".

Ironically, it never seems to occur to liberals that criticizing people for being "judgmental" is in itself judgmental. Moral relativism is an intellectually untenable philosophy, for the simple reason that it is next to impossible for a moral relativist to live life with perfect consistency and integrity in the real world.

The very concept of injustice is in itself a value judgment. Yet liberals constantly complain about injustice while simultaneously undermining the sense of morality which makes concepts such as "justice" and "injustice" comprehensible. To believe that standards of behavior can be violated, one must first believe that such standards objectively exist.

There were ample signs during the past several years that would have indicated that Cho Seung-Hui was a danger to society. But people chose to ignore those signs or minimize them, until it was too late, because doing so might have seemed "intolerant" in our current political climate.

In short, we as a society blew it. Cho Seung-Hui was a man in crisis, and a clear danger to society, but we chose to look the other way. Now we no longer have that luxury.

There are far worse things than being "judgmental", and refusing to take a stand against evil is one of those things.

There is no question at all that Cho Seung-Hui committed a horrible crime. He will answer to God for that crime. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes when he is forced to do so. But I also wouldn't want to be in the shoes of those who could have stopped and helped Cho Seung-Hui a long time ago, but chose not to do so because they were too wrapped up in their own lives and too blinded by the delusional rhetoric of liberalism to respond appropriately to the ticking time bomb in their midst.

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