School Shootings, Gun Control, and Trump
Here are a few distinct but interrelated observations about the current progressive exploitation of a school shooting as an opportunity to push for gun regulations in defiance of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment:
Conservatives interested in preserving the right to bear arms must do better than their current practice of repeating stale, highly questionable talking points that leave them looking like apologists for a morally weak position, rather than what they should properly be — righteous defenders of the principle of individual liberty against the omnipresent tyrannical impulse.
For example, I for one have had my fill of this typical argument: “Even if you ban guns, criminals will always get them.” This is a half-truth at best. Yes, there would, under a complete ban on private ownership of firearms, be a difficult transitional period during which illegal guns were widely available on the black market, which would mean criminals would have guns, but law-abiding citizens would not. But in the long run, and granting a government draconian enough to institute a general gun ban in the first place, it would be quite possible to eliminate almost all illegal guns over the course of, say, a few years, so that there really would be, in principle, almost no guns at large. South Korea has mandatory military service — every healthy young man serves for two years, during which he learns how to use a gun — as a result of which recreational shooting continues to be a popular activity. And yet the country has tight restrictions on private gun ownership, with all guns registered and stored at local police stations or licensed firing ranges rather than at home. Korea has virtually no gun crime, even while general violent crime statistics are on the rise.
Another common argument is that the number of school shooting deaths compared to the overall population is negligible, and just part of the inevitable price a nation must pay for freedom. Once again, however, this ignores the fact that, wholesale statistics notwithstanding, this particular kind of gun crime — the random shooting spree designed to maximize casualties for their own sake — is largely a recent phenomenon. Something about the current moral climate lends itself to recurring outbreaks of nihilistic mass destruction by empty young people seeking a twisted conception of meaning in their lives. To pretend the contemporary mass shooting, or rather its increasingly common recurrence, is nothing new or unusually disturbing, is to ignore or sugarcoat tangible evidence of a new social problem.
Strangely, conservatives typically wish to draw attention to the moral deterioration of modern society, caused by a variety factors related to the increasingly enveloping influence of progressivism throughout political and cultural life, and yet they suddenly become squeamish and defensive about the condition of the culture when guns are involved in any manifestations of this very same deterioration. To deny that the widespread availability of guns is an increasing cause for concern for a society in the throes of nihilistic convulsions is to contradict one of the most important warnings of America’s Founders, namely that constitutional republicanism is a governmental structure suited only to a moral and moderate people — that is, a people prepared and willing to govern themselves.
As this essential condition of a free republic dissolves before America’s eyes, it is not only unsurprising, but absolutely to be expected, that some of the boons of individual liberty will be transformed into grave dangers; freedom without individual self-restraint or basic respect for the sanctity and dignity of life devolves into mere license, i.e., aimless self-indulgence of all kinds. One manifestation of this amoral self-indulgence will be an increase in what we might call “crimes of the absurd” — violence undertaken for no discernible reason beyond the wanton desire to inflict harm on “society.”
It is in this socio-political climate and context, examined honestly and without convenient excuses or hypocrisy, that conservatives and constitutionalists must meet the challenge of the gun-grabbing progressives of the “right” and “left.”
Granting the Founders’ observation that liberty is only suited to a moral citizenry — that is, to a people living rationally according to human nature, rather than in mass defiance of it — there is a legitimate theoretical question that one may, or even must, ask, namely, “Does a people that has deteriorated to a level of irrationality unsuited to liberal democracy or republicanism thereby forfeit its just claim to a political arrangement worthy of the human birthright, i.e., freedom?”
I say this is a legitimate question at a theoretical level, and it is certainly a question appropriate to this moment of very late modernity. However, with regard to the issue of the right to bear arms, the question of whether, in theory, a society is still stable and moral enough to possess guns is, I believe, fundamentally distinct from the question of whether or how anyone — any real live human among us — should be granted the practical authority to confiscate guns.
In other words, it is reasonable, and I would say important, to ask the former question, as a means to understanding the proper and best conditions for the establishment and preservation of a free society. But it is quite another matter to assume for oneself, or concede to another, the natural superiority of the “benevolent dictator,” such that one man, or a committee of the anointed, should dare to divest an entire population of the practical means to their essential liberty — their ability to defend and protect themselves against tyrannical state overreach — “for their own good.” Such coercive paternalism, however well-intentioned (if it ever has been), has a history of leading nations to their downfall, rather than to political rejuvenation.
In short, the Second Amendment’s explicit protection of the individual right to bear arms, in the name of defending oneself and one’s community against a despotic government, makes a dangerously poor fit with a society mired in moral relativism, disregard for private property, and spiritual decay. But, dangerous as such a condition may be, restricting or denying that right as a means of saving society from itself is more likely to compound the disaster it seeks to avert, by leaving the innocent and rational minority disarmed amid chaos, and therefore vulnerable to abuse and oppression by an increasingly unrestrained amoral majority.
In fact, one might even say that this sort of societal breakdown, in which republicanism devolves into a tyranny of the majority, and particularly a “democratic” tyranny led by progressive demagogues, is precisely the condition that justifies the explicit inclusion of the right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution in the first place. To use this deteriorating social condition as an argument for abrogating that right is to reject the underlying principle that gives rise to that right, namely the principle of individual sovereignty and its concomitant deference to the natural desire of self-preservation.
“How can these terrible events be prevented?” asks the media about each of these mass shootings — disingenuously, of course, since they have cynically preloaded their coverage of such events, beginning from their very decision to promote and sell these purely local crimes as World-Historical National Tragedies, as irrefutable proof that stricter gun laws are needed.
But Americans have always owned guns, and in fact America’s laws regarding gun purchasing, ownership, storage, and possession are stricter now than in the past. And yet this particular, and particularly insane, kind of mass killing is not only more common now than ever before, but was virtually unheard of, almost inconceivable, in those past eras of less-regulated gun ownership. In other words, it is clearly not the availability of guns that is new and unusual in the current situation; and it seems wrongheaded, if not completely illogical, to pin the blame for a new kind of social problem on conditions that have not changed substantially since the era before this problem appeared.
If the presence of guns, per se, has not changed, and therefore cannot be blamed for the new problem, then what has changed in a way that might explain the nature of this new form of gun crime? — acts of seemingly random destruction without rationally explicable antecedents, utterly different from ordinary, traditionally-understood crimes of passion, revenge, or momentary anger. Those latter, more common crimes are invariably directed at a particular human target who is perceived as the source of the criminal’s “problem.” These new “troubled young man” outbursts, by contrast, in which a social misfit lashes out at “society” with complete disregard for the value of human life or the innocence of his victims, are almost exclusively a feature of today’s progressive, moral relativist, pop culture vulgarity-dominated, nihilistic America.
Guns were always there, ubiquitous, easily accessible. Complete moral disintegration at the hands of generations of progressive culture warriors, on the other hand, is new — that is what has changed.
Guns do not cause widespread nihilism. Progressive government education, moral pragmatism, and the elevation of immediate pleasure and the indulgence of every irrational impulse to the status of a “human rights issue” do cause widespread nihilism.
Guns do not cause moral numbness regarding the significance of human life. Knee-jerk materialism and the rejection of traditional notions of ultimate truth, higher beings, and a natural purpose of the human soul do cause such numbness.
Guns do not make the random massacre of one’s fellow human beings seem an attractive course of action for a lonely, confused young man. Progressivism’s indoctrinated indifference to individual life and the mass media’s bestowal of Significance and Instant Celebrity upon every hopeless nobody who commits such a senseless act of destruction do make such massacres seem attractive to those young men.
Guns do not deaden souls. Today’s popular entertainment, allied with and promoted by post-Frankfurt School Marxism, which both aggrandizes and normalizes the weaknesses of youth — lust, hatred, infantilism, self-absorption, and disdain for anything that does not serve one’s own instant gratification — does deaden souls.
Guns are not new. The complete progressive takeover of American society is new. Which one, then, is a more plausible explanation for the current growth of the nihilistic destruction impulse that is causing these senseless mass shootings?
Finally, a thought regarding the practical politics of the American tyrannical impulse during the Trump era.
Already, amid the idiotic and predictable faux outrage about guns being cynically fomented by the overtly communist-leaning mainstream media, we are seeing, yet again, President Trump’s “true colors.” That is to say, we are seeing that he has no such colors. Trump is a mood ring, changing as social context leads him, deferring always to the public view of the moment that seems most conducive to his personal popularity (i.e., acceptance) and approval (i.e., vanity). He is, in this as in all things, a weak-willed twelve-year-old girl, desperate to be liked by the audience of the moment, and having no idea how to please other than by deferring to the will of those around him while pretending it was his idea all along. He is, in short, a nothing, the ideal “leader” for this nihilistic age.
Why is the American leftist media pushing the gun control issue harder and more relentlessly this time around than on all the previous occasions when the topic has arisen, such as in the aftermath of many previous school shootings? Part of the answer, I believe, is that they know Trump cares what they say.
The progressive hard left, now showing its own true colors as they never did even during the neo-Marxist Obama presidency, has learned a valuable lesson from the recent illegal immigration debate: Trump will give them everything they want if only he can be persuaded that doing so is the means to greater popularity and personal love from the media and the general public. He will “negotiate” himself into giving them everything they have ever had the audacity to demand in public — even more — thus giving them free reign to take the whole enchilada without a fight, while simultaneously ramping up their demands to hitherto unspoken levels of audacity, while pretending, for optics purposes, that the evil Trump is too ultra-conservative to meet these new demands.
In other words, simply by sitting back and letting Trump preen and promote himself far to the left of the Obama administration on some of the key issues of progressive despotism, the Democrats and their surrogates successfully shift the whole national discussion into what is now, already, virtually a debate between full-out communism (new Democrats) and progressive populism (GOP), with Trump (the alleged conservative) taking the progressive position.
Trump is already openly advocating gun regulations more extreme and anti-constitutional than anything Obama ever tried to enact. He is also talking the progressive language of “protecting our children,” just as he talks the progressive language of “taking care of everyone” on healthcare, and the progressive language of “saving American jobs” on manufacturing and tariffs.
As some of us warned during the presidential campaign, with a President Hillary Clinton, at least the battle lines in American politics would remain clear, and mainstream conservative GOP voters would not be continually perplexed about where they were supposed to stand on issues of liberty and tyranny. With Trump, a substantial portion of the so-called “conservative” faction is repeatedly reduced to special pleading with their own souls in defense of the indefensible.
Can we expect them to follow this pro-Trump self-denial even here, on the cherished and liberty-loving issue of the right to bear arms?
As Trump’s slightly more conservative predecessor might say, “Yes we can!”
America has entered her twilight hours. If the freedom of private individuals to defend themselves against despotic government is now to be limited and circumscribed by the despots themselves — and by the party that is not overtly Marxist in its principles — then the long sleep is near.
“Why do you insist on speaking so disdainfully of Trump and his supporters,” some readers have asked. Because, though a foreigner, I actually love the idea of the United States of America. Americans who, by contrast, love their favorite pop idol enough to sell their nation for his personal aggrandizement are not worthy of my respect.