I have often reflected on the extent to which opposition to gun control derives from the deep masculine instinct for defense, not so much of himself as of his wife and children. Even men who do not own a gun, and indeed have no serious intention of ever owning one, still feel within them a profound sense that their very liberty is bound up in their power to defend their household, to maintain it safely as a kind of sanctuary from a dangerous world for those whom they are called to protect.
It is true, of course, that liberalism is clueless about this. All these male hang-ups strike the liberal as positively bizarre. Nothing perplexes and aggravates the him more than evidence of felt obligations pertaining to men and not to women (and vice versa). To the liberal it is simply irrational for a man to oppose gun control on the grounds that, off at the end, he cannot be free if he cannot purchase a weapon for use in the defense of his home, where his wife and children reside. But the rationalism of the liberal is not the rationality of the world as it is. The technocrat who proposes to resolve violence by regulation of weapons, by reducing poverty (always imagined by liberals as the taproot of crime), and by filling the media up with happy talk about acceptance and tolerance, speaks a language so abstracted from the real concerns of citizens under threat from armed criminals as to be functionally worthless.
Consider the headlines this morning out of New Orleans:
“Double shooting on Urquhart Street leaves one dead”
“5-year-old hides as eastern New Orleans parents are murdered”
“Man shot and killed Monday evening on Dryades Street”
“18-year-old killed in Monday afternoon shooting in Marrero”
Presented to a responsible husband and father, the usual stale technocratic answer to such horrors must always return void. There is an ineradicable rationality, rooted in the biological nature of man, in the image of man as the protector of his family. From the dawn of mankind to the crack of doom, few things shall cause a man’s skin to crawl and horripilate more reliably than the prospect of the invasion of his home and violation of his family.
It is against this instinct, this brute evolutionary logic, that the gun control advocate toils; and usually toils in vain. The American father can see well enough that though guns are severely restricted in Great Britain, crime is emancipated like never before. A Parliamentary report some years back delivered this staggering statistic: from 1900 – 1997 the rate of “indictable offences per thousand population” went from 2.4 to 89.1, an increase of over 3700%. It is a pitiful tale: Great Britain went from as close to as crime-free a society as men have achieved, to a degenerate anarchy characterized by lawless violence in many urban areas. Many American fathers are also well aware of the rarely noted story of how often violent criminals in the US are thwarted by armed citizens; they may even be aware of the celebrated studies years ago of imprisoned felons, which revealed a greater fear, among these incarcerated thugs, of armed citizens than of the police.
Liberal policies rest on the fancy that it is possible for families to be succored without empowering fathers to assume the role that nature and nature’s God has given them. It seems increasingly clear to me that the frustration of gun control advocates results in part from their isolation from these deep currents in men. It is probable that compromises could be achieved in the area of policy if the liberal side were prepared to reconcile itself to certain facts about the human family — above all the fact that the masculine instinct to shelter and protect his family from harm is not some atavistic holdover from primitive ages, but rather a profound component of what it means to be human.