by Paul T. McCain

Having spent a few years reading The Truth About Guns many articles about the anti-gun philosophy that’s firmly implanted in the minds of many of our fellow Americans, it strikes me that there is one key philosophical debate that’s more important than any other: is there evil and if there is, what do we do about it? Is there such a thing as “evil”? Yes or no. If you answer “yes” it’s my contention this will shape your view of the necessity of firearms in the hands of American citizens . . .

Is there “evil” in the world? I’d say that it’s easier to acknowledge and believe there is evil than to believe there is a real and personal God. Of course, I’m utterly convinced there is a real, personal God who has acted to do something about the “evil” problem, but I’ll set that point aside for now.

If you concede that there is evil, then I contend that the means to protect and defend yourself, your family, your property and your neighbors against evil is absolutely necessary. Does combating evil belong only to the police, or military? No. If only police and military have the ability, right and ability to resist evil with speed and violence of action, that leaves us all vulnerable, with no ability to resist it other than to hope that if and when the day comes when evil confronts us, there will be “somebody out there” who is willing and able to help us.

I’m not willing to take that chance. Others apparently are comfortable taking that risk.

In the debates over gun control, the pro-control crowd are convinced that the way to counter evil is to remove tools from the hands of those who would do evil. That’s a terribly naive point of view. History has demonstrated since literally the beginning of the world that evil will always, always find a way. Humans will use whatever is at hand to do evil things to each other.

In my world view, Cain bashed Abel’s head in with a rock because he was jealous of him. King David put Uriah in the front lines of battle to get rid of him so he could take Uriah’s wife. And on, and on, and on we can go sharing stories from any and all holy books, sacred texts, mythology, lore, legend and of course, from the history of human culture and civilization.

Has taking weapons out of the hands of private citizens ever helped curb evil? Ever? Absolutely not. Do you think the Jewish population of Europe, herded into ghettos and then into death camps felt that “gun control” had worked in their favor? How about the slaves in the South, and former slaves after the end of the Civil War? How did gun control help them combat evil?

It is my contention that the most realistic and practical way to combat evil is to confront it head-on and deal with it, in whatever way possible. I’m entirely in favor of strong laws and law enforcement and a judicial system that meets out punishment to evil doers, up to and including “bearing the sword” to execute the most heinous evil-doers among us. But this does not and cannot preclude my God-given right to self-defense, with weapons if necessary.

People of the gun, I would contend, deal with evil in the most realistic way possible, by being very sober-minded and realistic about mankind’s capacity for good. Can we ever achieve a utopian state where there is no more crime, no more gross outbursts of evil? Again, show me the evidence for such a possibility. It doesn’t exist.

Quite to the contrary, mankind is inclined toward evil and when left unchecked there has never been a time when power had not corrupted, when evil has not done its worst when given an opportunity to do so.

When we analyze the key issues in the gun debates that continue to rage in this country we will find that one of the key differences — and perhaps the most important one of all — is how we view the reality of evil and what we are each, individually, willing to do about it. That is the truth about guns…perhaps the most important truth of all.

87 Responses to The Truth About Guns and Evil

  1. Got it in one! Evil is the most persistent and the most denied condition on Earth. This is the source of the tension between worldviews.

  2. The only constant of mankind is that evil lurks in the heart of all people.

    That’s my deep thought for today.

  3. Good post however I contend humans are not inclined toward evil. We are also not inclined toward good. We just are and our biology and environment help to shape which way we lean. If humans truly were inclined toward evil, we’d be extinct. We would’ve went extinct a while ago.

    • I would go with the following:

      The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

      • Amen to that. I can’t look at a “bad guy” with judgement because I’m not better than him. Sure, I may not be breaking into someone’s house, but before Jesus saving me my heart was just as reckless and murderous. And that changing point wasn’t my own doing; it was the grace of God.

    • It depends on how you define ‘evil’. If you were to take what animals do to each other every single day and apply them to humans, you would find many many MANY animals are considered evil by human standards. Evil is a man made concept, just like morals. If one animal kills another and eats it in order to survive, that’s natural, but if a human were to do the same, he would be considered evil by most reasonable people. It would be considered evil to rob, rape, and murder, but, assuming there were no law enforcement, it would be beneficial to the individual committing those acts from a survival and evolutionary standpoint. The robber/rapist/murderer can use these acts to further his bloodline, secure food and shelter with less work, and reduce competition for food and sex. Evil and morals only come into play when a society works together for the benefit of the majority. If no one were to punish the criminal for his behavior, it would only empower him to continue these acts since they increase his survivability.

      • Keep in mind that society cooperates not only to improve survival for the majority, but also for the minority.

      • You are incorrect though. Those actions would decrease survival significantly. It would cause people to seek to kill you whether in defense or retaliation. Humans can easily live without cops or government. It’s just we have been indoctrinated by religion and the state to think we will inherently kill each other. Humans are social and work together for survival. With technology and increased intelligence we can even have different groups work together instead of fighting for resources. Look at what finally stopped all the in fighting in western Europe? Mutual trade.

        • What nonsense. There was lots of mutual trade going on in Europe exactly 100 years ago today. It didn’t stop them from going to war because nations don’t go to war strictly for money. Things like honor still play a role. What kept Europe at peace from 1945 until the Balkan Wars of the 1990s were nuclear weapons in the hands of the US, France and the UK to counterbalance the conventional and nuclear forces fielded by the Soviet Union. Nuclear powers just don’t engage in direct warfare they do it through proxies. Europe has lost its chest and that is why they are no longer war-like. They are inhabited by a bunch of pajama boys and are literally dying out. Half the population of the US has reached that state as well

          Despite what Ron Paul and his aconites babbles, countries that don’t trade or have relations are the one that don’t go to war. The US entry into both the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th Century happened because we traded with the rest world and both times we found that we had become addicted to it and could not stay out of the conflicts.

        • Vhyrus is correct and Albaniaaaaa is also correct.

          Vhyrus is talking about a situation where a person or an animal is living essentially alone. Then anything (good or evil) that he does to improve his chances of surviving is beneficial to him. He is simply following Natural Laws.

          Albaniaaaa is talking about a situation where a person or animal has chosen to live in a “society” (a group formed to mutually benefit all the members). Then it is more beneficial for him to obey the rules of that society (do good, not evil), because the society can not and will not tolerate people whose actions endanger the common good of the society. Societies provide enough benefits to all their members, that any civilized person would gladly give up some of his Natural freedoms to gain those benefits.

          Both of you should read John Locke’s second Treatise on Government for a better understanding of what I am talking about.

          http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/locke/

        • There was a guy who wrote a book about how a major war is impossible now that countries are so interconnected economically and depend on international trade to run their economy. He made a very neat, logical argument that clearly demonstrated that war was simply unprofitable – whatever gains you would get from reparations, territorial acquisitions etc were dwarfed by the cost to the economy.

          The guy’s name was Norman Angell, and his book, “The Great Illusion”, was published in 1910. The countries which he had specifically reviewed in it, and concluded that they are too dependent on each other to go to war, were UK, France and Germany. He was right, of course, in that war proved then – and ever since – to be an utterly unprofitable affair for all parties involved in it. But it didn’t stop them from happening. Not everything can be explained by market capitalism theories.

      • Thomas Hobbes correctly observed without Leviathan, i.e,. government, humanity would relapse back into its animal nature. The state of nature is not the Rousseauian paradise idolized by faux Libertarians and other anarchists. It is an absolute hell.

        • Completely correct, tdiinva. And another part of what I was trying to say in my comment above.

        • One of the most valuable things I learned in Poli Sci 101 was the essential difference between Hobbes, Locke and Burke. Where you come down on the role of government really rests upon how you view the fundamental nature of man. Do most men strive to benefit society, but a few strive for their own benefit at society’s detriment? Or do most men pursue their own selfish interests? Or is it some combination? Basically, are people inherently good or inherently evil?

          The Leviathan argument is the argument that legitimizes hegemony, it legitimizes the NSA, it legitimizes no knock raids, it’s why the police in Jackson County, MO think they need an MRAP. Since all men are inherently evil, overwhelming force is needed to keep them in line. If Hobbes was right, then “Big Brother” is exactly what we need.

          Something to think about.

        • DJ:

          Learn to read in context. Hobbes wrote at the high point of the Divine Right of Kings (DRK) era so is version of government is colored by that philosophy. Locke and Burke take a Hobbesian view of the state of nature but the world they lived in had moved on from DRK. The reason the Founding Fathers included the Bill of Rights was that in their mind they had created a new Leviathan which needed to be constrained.

          Your laundry list of transgression as represented by NSA shows a remarkable lack of self awareness and knowledge of what governments are supposed to do. This marks you as what politely call a faux Libertarian, basically a Rousseauian anarchist. The government didn’t destroy your privacy. You, with assistance of the private sector, did that. The internet, social media and information providers like Google ended it. The big difference between NSA and all the people you rely on to do business with like Amazon is that NSA will keep your personal data secret the rest will sell or if they don’t like you leak it. I trust NSA more than I trust Google and Amazon. Privacy is dead and the government didn’t kill it. You did.

        • When “reading in context” and taking into account all of the authors’ writings, the work of Hobbes and Locke is more difficult to evaluate. Hobbes is generally taken as the founder of ‘social contract’ as the ground of legitimate government, though he changed his views several times depending on political events, at first stating that “patrimonial kings” were not possessed of a legitimate social contract, consent, then later stating they were, then reversing himself again. It is not coincidental that his major political writing was formulated during the Long Parliament of 1640 and the English Civil War, which began in 1642. Hobbes did modify his support for absolute monarchy when he found the king could no longer provide safety for his subjects, permitting subjects to switch sides. How convenient!

          Locke reformulated social contract theory, having the advantage of seeing parliamentary democracy arise during his lifetime. His Second Treatise on Government was widely influential, forming a basis for that liberalism which seeks to limit government power to mandate religion or limit parliaments.

          It is worth noting that in his own time Locke was considered something of a hypocrite. He was the drafter, for Shaftsbury, of the “Constitutions of Carolina,” creating a feudal government in the Carolina colonies and granting feudal masters of plantations absolute power over their slaves. Locke was a major investor in the British Africa Company, and a member of the Board of Trade and Colonies. As one author has said, “John Locke was one of six people in the world most responsible for and active in the legitimizing of the African slaving enterprise.” Such is life.

          It is a small matter, notwithstanding the Poly Sci professors, that Locke and Hobbes had different views on whether people were basically rational and well-intended (Locke) or brute and greedy (Hobbes), for modern knowledge has resolved many of the grounds of their differences. The essential question is “do we have a social contract legitimizing our government?” and if so “has the government moved to breach that contract without the possibility of redress by the people?”

          Neither Hobbes nor Locke believed that the religious concept of ‘evil’ should be imported into civil law.

        • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

          However, you’re wrong to complain about libertarians. Libertarians are for minimal government (i.e. the one that is sufficient to “secure these rights”) – not against any government.

        • Regarding the “fundamental nature of men”, the real problem is that this was assumed to be the realm of philosophy to begin with. Man is just as much a valid subject of scientific method as anything else, and that includes his behavior, both individual and social. We have a huge wealth of information from human ethology studies now which shed light on many aspects of that behavior. For example, we know that altruism is intrinsic to humans, but that so is the desire to separate the world into “us” and “them” (and extend that altruism only to “us”, and hurt “them”). We know that humans have an intrinsic sense of “justice” and “fairness”, which is to some extent linked to equality, and to some extent to proportionality of reward, and to some other things as well. We know that humans have an intrinsic notion of social hierarchy and the associated “symbols of rank”. And so on.

      • You have pointed out one difference between people and other animals: people have a moral responsibility. People do, beasts don’t.

    • I think the nature-nurture debate has been largely dead for a while. It’s almost always an interaction between the two. So, while environment will almost always play an important role, some people will be more inclined by nature to be predators.

      This isn’t leveled at you, but the leftist view seems to lean toward people being blank slates, born equal in all ways (apart from the self-appointed leftist elite). So, if someone is a violent criminal it must be the fault of society, and we should deal with violent human predators with compassion and understanding rather than force. If the victim gets hurt, that’s the just price the victim must pay for having what the criminal wants (since everyone is equal in all ways, one cannot gain anything desirable without taking advantage of others). Further, since the individual has no real value (apart from the self-appointed, enlightened, leftist elite), the victim has no right to decide that she will live while her would-be rapist/murderer dies.

      Of course, violence is always acceptable, even desirable, when used against those who oppose leftism. So, I don’t disagree with Paul, but I would frame it in a different fashion. I think leftists do believe in evil. They believe most fervently. They just have a special view that evil is opposition to leftism.

      • In every case the desire to give credence to the concept of ‘evil’ is the desire to argue for actions based on an empty abstraction. This is a fond habit of every institution or faction that wishes to use force to punish that which they do not like, things such as defined-by-them heresy or defined-by-them immorality. It is obvious that heresy and immorality are not eternal and obvious categories, for particular behaviors are periodically taken up, then dropped, then taken up again into these abstract labels….so that sanction may be applied by the group currently in power.

        We construct and affirm useful laws when we are particular in describing the nature of an offense and the theory that justifies criminalization of a particular behavior. Power generally is very reluctant to meet the second of those requirements. Indeed, ‘we’ in our legislatures today often fail. Behaviors are condemned or approved under the most vague and self-serving emotional and quasi-religious language, and once a law is passed, it takes on a life of its own difficult to end. So the NFA of 1934, the particulars of federal drug law, and so forth. “Evil” is an always-empty abstract term variously instantiated with a list of behaviors a particular group dislikes. It is an essentially polemical word, not one fit for use in defining the social contract.

        And yes, the left-wing democrats seek to create a religion of the left, the well-known “political correctness.” They do punish and harass those who do not accept their preferences as if they were moral absolutes. Worse, our universities empower the practice. There is a great desire to belong to “an army of righteousness,” no matter that the ‘righteousness’ is nothing but opinion masquerading as eternal truth.

  4. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 KJV That fellow TTAG’ers is why we believe in self-defense.

    • We know that it is the brain, not the heart, which mediates our behavior. We know people pursue “what they want,” which is a tautology. We know the limits on self-interested aggression on others has been, since the most ancient tribal life, a question of both training and respect for (fear of) punishment by some powerful actors within the tribe. Survival today is rarely a question in any area other than criminal attack (and the need for a gun to defend) only because the more common bases of ancient violence (famine and inter-tribal war) are gone. In times of famine it is quite natural to kill in order to steal another’s food, if that is the only way to keep one’s own family alive. And that is but one example of “evil” which is natural and experienced throughout early pre-history (seen through archeology) and history. Comfortable people assured of their own food and safety make poor students of ‘natural man.’

  5. Hmm… I like this article. “What is the reality of evil and how to we confront it?” That’s a good line of questioning.

    The issue I all to often encounter is that people attempting to answer this question don’t take enough time first to ask, “if there such a thing as evil, then what is its nature?”, and then do not set aside time to evaluate and re-evaluate their course of action against their own definition of evil.

    I have yet to see a movement ostensibly to combat evil which has not brought about more evil in turn. It’s all to easy to look for a ‘root of all evil’ and crusade against it, but you won’t find evil to eliminate it.

    To me, evil is the direct effect of an action taken against another (which interferes with their rights); not a mere object, or even an inclination, condition or potential, but an actual action which effects a change and has evil consequences. That is something decided moment-to-moment by each person and cannot be controlled through such crude means.

    • Though the Allies in WW2 were far from saints, They were certainly a movement of relative Good that defeated Evil and did not propagate more Evil. Imagine a world with a victorious Third Reich. That would be a real hell on earth. Post WW2 has been far from perfect- but 100% better than an Axis victory.

    • John, I agree with the “particular actual actions” concept, for this reason. To say we must have guns to fight evil is no different than saying “we need guns to fight bad people if they attack us.” ‘Evil’ merely adds an overlay of religion to the abstract vagueness of the word ‘bad.’ Speaking in vague abstractions about who should rightfully be met with lethal force advances no debate. I would be loath to hear the police given the power to shoot at ‘evil.’ It is philosophy done at the level of a comic book.

      We have the right to keep and bear arms for just one reason, and that is that citizens of our first states demanded such a right before they were willing to agree to form a nation, a government level that would in some matters preempt the powers each of the states held individually. And so an absolute promise to draft and approve the first ten amendments, including specifically the right to keep and bear arms, was demanded and accepted.

      In republican nations a constitution is not a convenience or “just a piece of paper.” It is a contract. And while New York and Delaware securities attorneys (and some courts) consider a contract just ‘an opportunity to reopen the negotiation latter,’ our contract specifies in precise detail how such a renegotiation must be conducted. Until it is, and to our ill, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. If corruption of that intent is the game the confiscators wish to play, they wish to play tyrant.

        • We, under laws, kill people who murder, who transgress the laws and take a life or threaten to kill or maim a person wrongfully. There is no paradox in that. It is the core of current self-defense law, applies in seeking retribution against murderers, and covers military action as well.

  6. Nice article Paul. Lets call out evil where we see it.

    Its not the gun, its the person who wields it, or the group, to do evil. Evil flourishes when good men do nothing- Edmund Burke. Speak up, and be prepared to defend your family, and your nation.

    Ayaan Hirsi is a powerful voice for freedom, vs oppression. Her take on Boko Haram, and Islam:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303701304579549603782621352

    and for those of you who self-identify as classical Liberals, here is another excellent conversation with Sam Harris.
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/lifting-the-veil-of-islamophobia

  7. This is likely the largest and singular most important dividing line between all people.

  8. It’s funny, while I agree with this post, I find it ironic that I’ve seen several posts by you advocating for the restriction of the firearm rights of some…even without due process.

    I mean, as long as this is the Paul T. McCain that has the VDMA icon on his posts.

  9. I would say that we have the seeds of both good and evil, the potential to do both. We are tugged in both directions by our environment, our genetics, our own soul and eternal propensities, and by angels and devils. But the great gift and reality of our existence is that it is up to us to choose; we have our agency and freedom.

    There are those who want to take that from the rest of us, and have us be forced into their “enlightened” rules, whatever that may be. They believe that freedom isn’t a worthy cause in an of itself, and that we are not capable or deserving of a choice in how we conduct our lives. They deny that we have a soul, because they believe we are just a product and are predetermined and have no soul.

    A gun is a huge symbol of freedom, and of the right of people to live how they choose. They can choose to do heinously evil things with a gun, or they can choose to valiantly protect themselves, loved ones, and strangers with it. A gun is a tool to destroy life, or to protect and celebrate it. It at first appears as a crude and drastic extreme, but in reality a bearer of a gun can represent the highest and noblest of humanity.

    The bearer enables protection of others and self; shows the highest restraint and acknowledgement of responsibility; and understands that life is precious, worth protecting, and worth showing empathy, judgment, and risking one’s own life for others. A bearer indicates their willingness to give up their life for another or for their freedom, by the very carrying of the tools to protect life and being willing to operate them.

    A gun is, in many ways, a symbol of the highest and lowest acts that humanity can proffer. We, the PotG, choose the highest acts. And for that we simply demand that the controllers leave us be, and let us even defend their lives and freedom the same as ours.

    The proper use of a gun is nothing less than the highest form of individual liberty itself.

  10. The concepts of “good” and “evil” are malleable moral concepts that often distort rather than clarify the issue presented, and are often only “in the eye of the beholder.” It is less “political” to address the issue simply as a question of violence. It is my thesis that humans are innately violent–indeed, the ability to engage in violence is an necessary survival trait without which our species would have ceased to exist millennia ago. When one accepts that violence–or if you prefer, the willingness to engage in violent conduct–is hard wired into our genetic makeup, then one must conclude that violent acts are inevitable.

    The ideology of the pacifist left is that removing the tools used to effectuate violence will reduce violent acts. Or in their terminology, that more guns means more gun violence, so fewer guns will mean less gun violence. Which may in some way be true–there may be less gun violence–but there will not be less violence, as the social experiments in England so graphically demonstrate. Gun violence is low–but knife violence is extreme. We can be trained to control our violent tendencies, but all the training in the world will not change our nature.

  11. Well said, Paul T.

    Describes perfectly: “The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing,”

    Also hits the point that historically when the police/military are the only ones with the weapons the society inevitably declines into evil. “This is what happens to a disarmed populace.”

    • The latter is more a function of the aphorism that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” a concept that has been proven in the laboratory, in institutional settings, and in the street time and time again. When humans are given complete power over other humans, they become sadistic and violent, demanding total and instant compliance. When we give that power top the military or the police, they care about us not at all; they become lords and we serfs. It’s only natural….

    • In another form, ‘we must all hang together or surely we will all hang separately.” To ‘hang together’ against tyranny requires guns. To ‘hang together’ against a few criminals requires a gun.

      We cannot and need not answer the question “what do tyrants, rapists, home invaders, bank robbers, car-jackers, knock-out game players, and horse thieves have in common?” The answer is probably “they all want to take something that we do not believe is theirs to take.” To call them all evil tells you nothing. The British government of the 18th century wasn’t particular evil. Their treatment of us was wrong. Said who? Said us. It is the same in our law, save only for the constitution’s provisions. All others may be changed by “us” in a week, through a vote in both houses and stroke of the pen.

  12. “In the debates over gun control, the pro-control crowd are
    convinced that the way to counter evil is to remove tools
    from the hands of those who THEY THINK would do evil;
    REGARDLESS OF ACTUALITY.”

    The people who think this way, in my view, openly and
    purposely stick their heads in the sand rather than admit
    to making a mistake. To me this places them on the same
    moral ground as a murderer who openly states they like
    to kill. That’s why we end up with groups like the Boko
    Haram that continue to get funding AND weapons.

  13. People are animals, the political animal. Being living animals they are driven by appetites, without which no creature stirs. Being the political animal, man lives in organized towns and cities, polities, which create and carry culture forward, both knowledge of nature and agreements about how and when appetites may be pursued without community retribution.

    There are and will always be men and women who transgress, who decide the satisfaction of their appetites shall transcend the interests of the family and community. For some transgression represents a moment’s aberration, and if the offense is small we punish them lightly. For others the compulsion to transgress is chronic or severe, and those we jail for life or condemn to death.

    All humans are capable of transgression when they perceive the appetite, satisfaction of which is the reward of their transgression, is great, and the likelihood of detection or punishment small. In witness to this politicians, physicians, CEOs, and school teachers transgress in order to gain, wrongfully, money, sexual pleasure, and other objects of an appetite’s hunger. Therefore the ability of a polity to punish, and the individual’s ability to defend, are both critical to reducing the harm caused by both the calculating offenders and those who lack impulse control.

    Nothing new it that. It’s basic Aristotelian political analysis. Call transgression evil, if you wish. But the term clarifies nothing, and there is no human that can be trusted to define it as he wishes without guidance and consent from the larger community. Both the lowly and the exalted require a watchful eye on their excesses.

  14. Mr. McCain, you have struck at the root, not merely the branches. Thank you for so succinctly and eloquently getting to the essence of the matter.

    Evil is a fact of life. Deal with it. Be prepared to confront it by any means necessary when it presents itself.

  15. During many philosophical debates at work on how reduce crime, we came up with this.
    Eliminate selfishness and you’ll reduce crime to manageable rates.
    I want. I need. I deserve.

    Good article Paul.

    • Then to carry that one step further:

      Since it is impossible to eliminate selfishness (it is an inherent part of human nature, sometimes good, sometimes bad), then crime will always be a problem in our world. If you want to reduce crime, then you have to deal with the action (crime), not the motive/cause.

    • “I want, I need, I deserve” are only terms about appetite naturalized in our political life, aren’t they? Everyone has appetites, desires. Everyone feels they need and want, and in some sense deserve…money, food, sex, friendship, and freedom from predation. We therefore grow custom and law to arbitrate. You may only take goods from a willing seller or giver. You may only have sex with a person who is capable of consent, willing and of age. And so on.

      There will always be a fraction whose mix of culture and biology inclines them to ignore custom and law, taking impulsively. We punish them. Those who incite others to believe they deserve more, beyond the most basic subsistence, than they work for…are inciting crime. This obvious. At the moment it is rather in fashion, though.

  16. Paul, I have personally witnessed the results of disarming a population and it is evil. Look just to the neighboring countries of Nigeria, the populace was unarmed and “people” rounded up 100s of thousands and hacked them to death with whatever farm implements were available. Had so much as 15% of the populations of Uganda or Mali or Rwanda been armed AND had the moral grounding to use those weapons in defense of their fellow citizens, regardless of ethnicity/religion, the genocides of the 70s, 80s and 90s would not have happened.

    “moral grounding” being far and away more important than being armed. Tools. Many are required to be a free people.

  17. Anyon who’s been an EMT in the inner city or spent time in the third world [raising my hand] can assure you that evil is indeed alive and well.

  18. Well written sir. Most of us “bitter clingers” were raised with this philosophy and yet find it difficult to expound on it when being lambasted by the left.

  19. Regardless of whether there actually something real floating about called ‘evil’ or if people and institutions just commit ‘evil’ acts, the outcome is that people and institutions sometimes commit evil acts. Prepare accordingly.

  20. Paul,

    Your article is excellent. I see many gun grabbers who quite literally reject the fact that evil people exist in our world.

    I would like to add a very simple and very important additional dimension. Outside of your (accurate) arguments of utility, it is patently offensive and degrading that a group (voters) or government would tell me what personal property I can and cannot own and possess when the mere ownership and possession of that personal property does not infringe on anyone else’s liberties … especially personal property that others cannot even see (e.g. concealed firearms).

    It really is that simple. It would be patently offensive and degrading if I ordered a woman, under threat of imprisonment or death, to NOT use certain feminine products. The relative merits or utility of one type of product over another does. not. matter. It is the exact same situation when someone orders us, under threat of imprisonment or death, to NOT use (have) certain firearms. Whatever the particular firearm may or may not be able to do does. not. matter. Period.

  21. While watching a History Channel show about Jonestown, my wife asked me why these cult leader people always become sexually violent before they get taken out. I told her that men will only do what they can get away with. With the power that flakes like Jim Jones had, nothing is off the table.

    The Second Amendment was written into our nation’s DNA at it’s conception to prevent anybody from taking that kind of power. As long as a third of the people are capable of self-defense, the authorities will always have reason to pause.

    Nice article, by the way. But I’m still having that Sig.

    • I agree with at least the second paragraph. People do what is rewarding. In a chimpanzee troop the alpha males eat what they want, f’k those they want, and beat up rivals with regularity. We decided to modify that set of rules a good bit, but not completely. Biology and education combined cannot achieve a complete elimination of male competition, or of females fighting other females who interfere with the group or its favored males. But we’ve come a long way.

  22. Well said Paul, thank you. You know, it’s funny. When you’re right, you’re REALLY GODDAMN RIGHT, and when you’re wrong, you’re REALLY GODDAMN WRONG. I’ve never seen a comment or an article from you that didn’t hit either of those extremes. Regardless, you cut right to the heart of the matter in a succinct, eloquent way.

  23. If you want a good read on the evil that all of us are capable of I suggest The Lucifer Effect By Philip Zimbardo http://www.lucifereffect.com
    He is a professor and testified at the Abu Ghraib prison trials. After reading this book it makes looking at yourself in the mirror a whole new experience because if you can’t look and see yourself succumbing to the forces acting on the subjects of the book you are lying to yourself or you’re at the tail end of the 3rd standard deviation of people.

  24. Here is my take on it…It exists and so do I , I am prepared for it as best I can . I am a 2nd degree Black Belt and a Firearms instructor.I like a couple of sayings..;WALK QUIETLY,CARRY A BIG STICK and GOD MADE MAN,COLT MADE THEM EQUAL! ;WHEN IN NEED CALL ON ME ,NO MATTER WHAT THE SIZE I WILL EQUALIZE. so you lead your life in a prepared state,others wish not to, that is there business.As for me i’m not singing Kumbyah to protect my family1

  25. “Conscience, definable in part as, ‘a quality present within most every individual with the potential to serve in some circumstances as a restraint upon certain actions, and in other circumstances as a calling to act’.
    Morality, definable in part as, ‘a simple code of individual thought and conduct’.
    Rights, definable in part as, ‘the natural status of each person’.”

    “The moral code of conduct simply requires that each person conduct oneself and ones affairs in a manner as to avoid intentionally violating the actual ‘Rights’ of another person.”

    “While under written law, any person, act or thing may be declared ‘illegal’ or ‘unlawful’ — an actual criminal act involves the intentional violation of another person’s actual ‘Rights’.”

    “It is the Moral Obligation and Duty of all adult-age males as Freemen to provide themselves with and to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, other persons, property and possessions. As Citizens, this solemn Duty also extends to State and Nation as required.
    Likewise, it is the Moral Obligation and Duty of those within and acting on behalf of ‘government’ to avoid any interference with Freemen as Citizens in fulfilling their Moral Obligations and Duties.”

    “For persons in ‘government’ to enact any law making it ’illegal’ or ’unlawful’ for the Citizens to keep and bear arms at least equal to those same arms that criminals and those within and acting on behalf of government would use against the Citizens to violate their ‘Rights’ is Immoral. Period.”

    “Evil is an absence of Conscience, Hell a place devoid of all Reason”
    Gw

    Do No Harm / Successfully Defend

  26. It’s a big scary world out there once you leave the confines of cushy suburbia. Those that desire to restrict freedoms, such as monsantomommy or bloomie have never been to garden spots like Bosnia, Mogadishu, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda…where life is cheap, very cheap and power is at the point of a gun. They have no idea the savagery that man can inflict upon man…I’ll see your BS, a guy with a black rifle walked into Starbucks and it scared me crap and raise you a stand over a mass grave or a flattened village. You haven’t earned the right to decide what I do and don’t need.

    To borrow a phrase from the Magpul site…half of the people see the would as a beautiful place to live, the other half looks as a place to pillage.

    • “Half of the people see the would as a beautiful place to live, the other half looks [at it] as a place to pillage.”

      I believe this, but I hope your percentages (half and half) are incorrect. I hope that the pillagers are a small minority.

      • “We all dream of a world of sunshine, happiness, and peace. The problem is while half of the people think it sounds like a wonderful place to live, the other half think it sounds like a wonderful place to pillage.”

        That’s the quote. Doesn’t say who it’s attributed to. I’d say closer to 30% beautiful place to live, 30% place to plunder, 30% living in fear of plunders, dictators, warlords, drug lords,. etc….10% undecided

        • Being in that 10% I can correct you. We are not “undecided”, we are entirely willing and able to shoot in the head any member of the other parts of the human race who try to take or harm what is ours. And THAT scares the f*ck out of the takers and destroyers. As it should be.

  27. Paul, great article

    I do believe evil exists in the world (nothing to do with religion), and that in general people who have taken up the gun have considered that in one way or another.

    I always wondered how people who are anti-gun could be more afraid of me as a gun owner than they are by the prospect of encountering crime or worse.

    Their world-view denies that individual evil exists, rather their belief is that people in general are too inferior to be responsible for owning/using firearms.
    Specific acts of evil are thought of as failures of the system, not as being caused by the responsible persons.

    • Gregg, spot on.

      I think it is important to work hard to shape the debate using arguments that resonate with as many people as possible, hence, an objective discussion of evil, quite regardless of any religious aspect.

  28. No one can definitively say whether mankind is inclined toward good or evil. This is a debate that has (literally) been going on since at least the Greek philosophers and probably before that.

    It’s like original sin, the origins of life, and whether or not there is a divine conscience guiding the universe. We can debate it until we are blue in the face – but there is not going to be agreement.

    Still, thanks for an interesting read. And as for the comments, TTAG again proves that its’ contributors are more founded in the classics than one might expect (Moms blah blah Action – looking at you here… I know you were the MoSt PoPulAr GiRL in TeH SoRoRiTeZ, but c’mon…)

  29. Nice article, Paul! Well done! Great comments and discussion from the TTAG community! I echo the remark that, once again, TTAG Readers and their Comments demonstrate that we are in company with some of the most intelligent, thoughtful and articulate persons in the U.S., and benefit daily from that company.

    My take on this is that each Human, regardless of gender, has multiple aspects of their self-awareness, which are at odds with each other. The “Saintly” among us act out of a better self, most of us act out of a self-reconciled balance between the better self and the worse self, and the remainder have allowed the worse self to control their thoughts, impulses and actions.

    The worse self is an old and primal part of the mind. The better self is newer and may be a connection to the Deity, or may be a result of our evolution fueled by our experience and understanding of the dysfunctional nature of the primitive self and it’s influence on our lives, or a combination of both (my pick).

    Yes, there is “evil” within each of us, but there is also “good”. We determine which one will hold sway over what we do and what we project into the World we create for ourselves, as individuals and as a community. In some cases there is illness or defect that influences the balance for certain individuals, but the majority of us choose what the balance will be.

    Therefore, what we do about “evil” is pretty much up to each of us, and our individual decisions shape what the plurality does. The Founders of this Republic embraced a set of values they believed would enable the most people to choose and act upon that which is “good” for the individual and the plurality. That has worked pretty well, not perfectly, but it has given us additional experience with what works well and what does not so that we can make better choices going forward. To me that is the strength of the American Republic.

    Now, we are at a crossroads whether to continue the Republic and its values, or change it to a Socialist model where the values are quite the opposite. The outcome will be our choice. I hope we get it right.

  30. “If only police and military have the ability, right and ability to resist evil with speed and violence of action, that leaves us all vulnerable, with no ability to resist it other than to hope that if and when the day comes when evil confronts us, there will be “somebody out there” who is willing and able to help us.”

    It also leaves us vulnerable to the hard fact that governments are, frequently, evil: See the U of Hawaii web site on “democide”. In the period 1900-2000, governments killed more than 100 million of their own people. THAT is the evil that the 2nd Amendment addresses.

  31. Paul, I also wanted to hit on this point, was a bit rushed(places to be, people to see, sh*t to f**king do)”that leaves us all vulnerable, with no ability to resist it other than to hope that if and when the day comes when evil confronts us, there will be “somebody out there” who is willing and able to help us.” This immediately brought to the front of my mind the quote from Virgil’s Aeneid, “una salus victis nullam sperare salutem”. Far too many people fully expect someone else to protect them from “evil”, are unwilling to stand in their own defense. THAT is far more the problem than evil, for it allows evil to prosper.

  32. Never mind that those who are sworn to protect us from evil are just as likely to succumb to it.

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