As long as more than one person exists, there will exist the potential for conflict. Most can resolve conflicts without drastic measures; however, some will resort to using violence. It is for these times that violence may be morally called for in response. It must be clarified, violence is not to be a tool used to initiate a means to an end – not as a whip upon a slave. The violence I am referring to is in the preservation of life and liberty. This is not oxymoronic, and to falsely equate the immoral and moral uses of violence as the same because they are violent is moronic. It would be to equate and castigate the slave who pulled the whip from the slavemaster’s hands in order to fight back, as morally equal as the slavemaster’s whips upon the slave.
The whipped slave is not a scenario that people can relate to, so a different and unfortunate all-too-common scenario will be used: domestic violence. Lisa Skinner in Alabama had a protective order against her [estranged] husband, but being only a piece of paper, that did not stop him being armed with a gun and a knife, and coming after her; she shot back and defended herself. When a physical conflict emerges and there is a power differential, might has a strong advantage. If a 6ft and physically powerful man wants to rape and murder a 5ft petite woman, she is at a disadvantage.
Boko Haram kills and enslaves many, even kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls at a time. Hundreds of girls have been released after assaults and raids against Boko Haram. Two attackers shot at people during a Draw Muhammad contest in Texas, and armed men killed the first shooters. A man who tried to shoot up a mall in Oregon was stopped by Nick Meli – who didn’t even shoot – but his armed presence was enough to stop the one plotting the mass shooting. Each situation, violence (or the threat thereof) was used against those who initiated violent action.
When someone holds a religious conviction denying your humanity, calling you an enemy and the best way he can show his devotion is by attacking and killing you – how would you reason with him to change? When someone holds a feeling of hostility against you and no law, or restriction printed upon a piece of paper will dissuade him from trying to rape and murder you, what will you do?
Decry violence and ban guns?
James Holmes went into a movie theater that banned firearms, but he still brought guns to murder movie-goers. Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical paper had multiple employees murdered by those who didn’t appreciate the satire; France has strong gun control laws. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most violent crimes don’t even use weapons – of those that remain, firearms are just one type of weapon. Mr. Skinner was also carrying a knife when he came after his estranged wife.
Weapons are equalizers of force for when there was an initial imbalance. As the saying goes ‘God made man; Sam Colt made them equal’.
To remove by law is to use legal force making the law-abiders hamstrung in the face of one who is already intent on breaking the law. Adam Lanza, Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold, Nidal Hasan and many others were already set to break the law by committing acts of murder. Was a piece of paper telling them they couldn’t use a certain type of firearm, or ammo going to stop them? If we let our ability to defend be contextual in how, when and where we can carry we make ourselves vulnerable, and become Suzanna Hupp who to obey the law left her gun in her car and there it remained when George Hennard killed many in Luby’s Cafeteria, including Hupp’s parents.
Whether it is in individual defense, or group – Nick Meli against a single shooter, or a military force against Boko Harem – it is violence used as a counteraction against those who initiated the use of violence. Weapons are not ‘evil’ or killers themselves, but are tools and it is up to the wielder on how they are used. To say violence or that weapons should not be used – including guns – is to say that the suffering of the victim is a higher moral value than self-assertion and self-defense. To those who cannot be reasoned with, and you cannot defend yourself against, you can only be moral by being their victim, and letting others be victimized.
Lastly, it is hypocritical to say that weapons and violence are not needed and that we need laws to enforce these decrees. When seconds count, the police may be minutes away and when they arrive – they will be armed and ready to use violence to enforce the laws stating you are not to use violence and weapons to defend yourself. With a weapon a rapist may try and take a victim – he is already violating the law; disarm the victim and there is less of a chance of defense by obeying the law. The woman who shoots her would-be rapist, the shopkeepers holding a marauding mob at bay, the one carrying concealed who stops a robbery each use violence (or the threat) by using a weapon. To take away their defense would be to send others (police) with weapons to use violence – either way, the victims would be victims, but one would leave them as legal victims as a state of existence instead of situational.
Weapons exist, and sometimes violence is needed. When a fire starts, you can put it out with an extinguisher or call and wait for the fire department to arrive, while the fire consumes your property. In a worst-case scenario, such as any of the aforementioned examples – or worse, [e.g. your children being victimized] – will you take a fake moral high ground as you and yours are victimized, or fight back using what is necessary to not be victims?
It is that simple.