There’s usually a bit of discussion about gun control laws following the tragic, murderous attack of innocents. Lawmakers obviously feel somewhat responsible for preventing such attacks. In the same way, the 9/11 attack on the United States has resulted now in our airline travelers being herded around without recourse, like cattle in chutes, until they can be viewed naked by a special government officer through highly-specialized x-ray equipment.
Lawmakers and government officials have taken upon themselves the responsibility of preventing any further attacks through the airlines, and when government steps in to act, in can’t help but force everyone else to acquiesce. I had to go through the backscatter machines the last time I flew. To my dismay, we were forced to hold our arms up in the air inside the machine, sort of like when the FBI has you surrounded, with all its weapons aimed at you. It was a little disconcerting, since I also had to remove my belt. Up until that fateful moment, the only thing holding my pants at waist level were my hands. When I was forced to “reach for the sky,” I could only hope that the tension in my leg muscles would be enough to hold my 36″ pants on my 32″ waist. I think my guardian angel may have passed a finger through an empty belt loop at the last second, because the pants stayed up.
You might wonder why I have 36″ pants, when my waist is only about 32″. Well, I’d recently lost a bit of weight. In addition, most of my pants have larger-than-usual waists so that when it is appropriate, I can exercise my civil right to bear arms. I take that right seriously because it’s really the only way we have effectively to prevent murderous attacks like the Aurora shooting or 9/11. Well, I suppose those particular examples would still not have been prevented, because private citizens are not trusted to be armed on airplanes (including pilots, at the time), and the Aurora theater where the attacks took place was a so-called “gun-free zone.” But there are still other places where it is allowed for private citizens to bear arms, and with people who take this civil right as seriously as I do, those places are much safer.
While there can be private citizens everywhere, all the time, that’s not possible for law enforcement officers. Their response time may be measured in mere minutes, but a murderous attack may be well underway by the time they arrive. But even with that disadvantage, law enforcement officers can do much more against a violent attacker than lawmakers can do.
Some lawmakers seem to feel compelled to do something about the problem. The thing they do best, however, is of almost no use. Lawmakers make laws. Last I checked, there are already laws against murder. The only other way to use laws would be to strip away the civil rights and the convenience of all citizens in the hope of making it harder for murderous attackers to do their worst. Unfortunately, those attackers have little regard for laws. In fact, they are not constrained by the much more basic social norms and natural law that permit a civil society to exist. Their motives are sociopathic at worst, sometimes induced by mind-altering chemicals that also make them very hard to stop with anything short of lethal force.
So let me try to help our frustrated lawmakers find peace in these matters. They are not responsible for preventing such attacks. I repeat, they are not responsible for preventing murderous attacks by those who disregard the laws. They can’t be, because the most powerful tool at their disposal is completely ineffective. In fact, if they try to curtail violence by dismantling the civil rights of private citizens, they will end up increasing the likelihood of violence by disarming those who do respect the laws and who may be present when a violent attacker could be stopped. If they tie the hands of those who might have stopped murder and grave injury, then they do bear some responsibility for the suffering — not all responsibility, but some.
Believe it or not, there are things that laws cannot accomplish. There are things even government can’t do. When it fails to recognize this and tries to do them anyway, nothing good results. When government takes full responsibility for the safety and security of its citizens by disarming and incapacitating them, we have a recipe for disaster.
This post is dedicated to the memory of the private citizens on United flight 93.