Unfortunately for those of us who would prefer to leave behind the moral
preening caterwauling that followed upon the Supreme Court's decision in Heller, there are those who cannot let it go, and insist upon drawing our attention to the infantile tantrums of Europeans who know next to nothing about American history, law, and government. And who, apparently, pen, with apparent ingenuousness, such luminous analyses as this:
The Second Amendment states that the armed forces ought to be armed.
Allow your mind to absorb the penetrating critical interpretation of the Constitution: the Army should be... The Army! The implication must be, of course, that Eighteenth-Century Americans were so stupid - or positivist - that unless they stipulated in their Constitution that armies should be armies, some of them might assume that armies exist for those who like to wear snappy uniforms. Who knew that tautology was the veritable apex of textual interpretation?
While I do not wish to dwell upon this subject at any great length, it is worth noting, in connection with a recent display of grotesquely bestial conduct, which was precipitated by the refusal of a father to permit his adolescent daughter to suffer molestation at the hands of one of the glowering men depicted in the Star Tribune article, that not even the abolition of firearms can obviate the necessity, and imperative, of defense, whether of others or of self. By what principle of ethics should a lone man, attempting to defend his womenfolk, be left deprived of potential strategic leverage against their depravities? It will be said that security personnel and police exist for this purpose, but the success of such assaults proves only the obvious: that these public servants are neither omnipotent nor omnipresent.
It is worth observing, further, that none of the assailants was armed; their limbs were their weapons of choice - well, their limbs and the earth itself. So, it is not merely a matter of wishing for some candyland from which firearms have been banished - and prudent minds will shudder at the thought of what manner of government in the U.S. would be necessary to disarm the populace - but a question of what relation ought to obtain between the ordinary citizen and the predators among them. Once more, the notion that a relation of formal equality ought to obtain, such that ordinary people, not accustomed to aggressive action, should be compelled to confront barbarians long accustomed to such acts, upon an imaginary level field, is positively perverse.
This, however, leads to another line of thought. Those who have prated on about the Heller decision tend to be those who look askance at capital punishment, and, frankly, this troubles me. They apparently believe that there is something immoral and invidious in the notion of armed self-defense, which implies a certain level of acceptance of the exposure of the innocent to criminal violence - at least in, oh, any possible world short of the eschaton - and yet, when that violence occurs, maintain that "state-sanctioned violence" must never, ever, under any conceivable circumstances, be employed against its perpetrators. The overall impression is of a general indifference, if not towards crime-in-general, at least towards its particular victims. Yes, particular victims could have been preserved from harm, or afforded superior odds of evading serious injury, were they or their loved ones armed; but instead of these real, flesh-and-blood human beings, we are admonished to direct our thoughts and aspirations towards some hypothetical America from which firearms have been banished, and in which peace and concord, in consequence, reign. From the concrete victims of crime we are told to turn our attention to statistical abstractions, vague projections of reductions in the rate of violent crime that would, it is alleged, result from the prohibition of firearms - notwithstanding the manifest failure of such measures in other Anglo nations, such as Australia and the UK.
While I am certain that there exists a certain sympathy for the victims of crime, it seems rather abstract by comparison to the concrete sympathy for perpetrators, and the doctrinaire insistence upon defenselessness before them. At some point, this become, in fact if not intention, an acceptance of a holocaust of particular persons, to the end that some hypothesized future (utopian) state of affairs might be realized, a societal order from which structural violences, and implements of violence, have been removed. As someone who believes in such things as structural injustices, I cannot reconcile this with a Christian ethic. In fact, I find it inimical to a Christian ethic at a profound level. No structural injustice necessitates particular criminal acts; that is, no structural injustice entails that its victims cannot not commit specific sins. And no structural injustice deprives participants in the societal structure of the duty to defend those for whom they are responsible.