Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
What do people who don’t believe in evil do? They blame inanimate objects. Guns.
19 years ago, a middle-aged unemployed taxi driver carrying two milk cartons full of gasoline walked onto a South Korean subway and started a fire that killed 192 people.
That was not a milk carton problem. Nor was it a gasoline problem.
6 years ago, a Muslim terrorist drove a truck into a Bastille Day event in Nice, France killing 86 and wounding over 400 other people. Body parts were being pried out of his wheel wells.
That was not a truck problem.
Across the long stretch of human history, millions of people were killed long before the invention of firearms, in often cruder and far more brutal ways. Back then we lacked CNN, but people generally understood that this was not due to the invention of smithing, but the problem of evil.
The problem with evil is that it requires us to believe in good.
Modern people are unwilling to believe in G-d, and so they believe instead in government. And they are convinced that the god of government can fix everything if we only give it the power.
The trouble is that while people may not believe in evil, evil very much believes in them.
The gun control debate is a policy argument based on fundamental fallacies about human nature, black markets, and what a malicious mind bent on hurting people can accomplish. Conservatives argue for empowering individuals to resist mass shooters while leftists once again chant that if we locked up all the guns and gave them to the government, it would be fine.
But if guns are the problem, why aren’t there regular mass shootings in Switzerland and Finland? In Israel, a school shooting is an attack carried out by an Islamic terrorist. And that’s dismissed as a “political” act and something utterly different than an obsessive weirdo shooting up an American school because we can’t simply find the common evil denominator in both.
If guns are the problem, why weren’t there school shootings every few months during an era when guns could be bought at every hardware store and ordered through the mail?
Muggings, carjackings, and gangland shootings in Chicago are all attributed to some general social malaise that can be solved by freeing the criminals and locking up all the guns.
As if the guns have agency and the shooters do not.
Gun control hasn’t fixed any of the crime in Chicago but that’s just because, like most leftist policies, it hasn’t been implemented comprehensively enough, goes the leftist argument.
The trouble with gun control is that people do have individual agency. They choose evil.
Leftists don’t believe in either G-d or free will. And that’s understandable because the one is linked to the other. They inhabit a mechanical world in which society is real and people aren’t. Individual accountability doesn’t exist in the leftist construct of a world where people are just cogs in a machine reacting to social stimuli based on their genes and upbringing.
The central assumption of leftist thought is that if you control the society, you can also control the character and conduct of every person who has been raised in it. Every leftist policy flows from this idea. Government becomes god and can, given political omnipotence, give us utopia.
All we have to do is give up our individuality, our rights, and our faith in anything else.
That it doesn’t work is too obvious to even need saying after the rot of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Communist China, and the lost glories of every single failed leftist experiment.
The real question is what remains in the empty spaces of the soul in these leftist machines?
Take away moral accountability, a sense of purpose, and a belief in a higher power, and what do you get? Mass shootings every weekend and any other kind of atrocity that’s been popularized and made to go viral. The human ego slamming against a society that doesn’t know it’s there.
The malicious narcissism, the violent self-pity, and the thwarted egotism of the mass shooter are a familiar phenomenon. They’re far more endemic than the availability of firearms. The killers hope to leave a mark on society. They take lives to force us to recognize their specialness and what they believe we owe them. The media happily rewards them with their bloody 15 minutes.
There are collectivist movements, like Nazism and Communism, dedicated to this premise, but there are also plenty of individuals prone to falling into this evil mindset. These individuals and movements thrive at a time of confusion, when people lack meaning, and don’t see a future.
The problem of evil is an old one. It can come from many directions. But our society is particularly vulnerable because its elites can no longer even grapple with the concept.
They’ve created a society in which evil thrives because they are incapable of recognizing it.
Human dysfunction has been reduced to mechanistic failures of biochemistry, economics, government oversight, legislative policymaking and society. Everything is blamed except the individuals who actually make the decision to go ahead and kill other people.
But that’s what happens when you believe in governments and don’t believe that evil is a tangible reality outside of TV and movies.
Instead of talking about human crimes, we talk about gun violence. The lack of individual moral accountability only contributes to the next atrocity not by guns, but by individual people.
Evil is a human void. It’s the egotistical emptiness that remains in the absence of good. To defeat it, we would have to conceive of good. We would have to retell the stories of the mass shootings, of crime in general, as a struggle between good and evil. Not all that long ago, we had a society capable of telling that story. These days we are more likely to celebrate evil.
The Left believes that government is god and it conceives of evil as disobedience to government. The gun control debate reduces evil to the NRA and anyone who won’t obey and hand over their guns. “Do you want more kids to die?” the gun controllers demand.
But good and evil don’t come from a gun. Nor do they come from the government.
The reduction of individual choices to mechanical abstractions, shootings to guns, individual acts to society, is the mark of elites who want to rule the world, yet can’t understand people.
There’s no formula more likely to convince people that their acts have no value, their lives no purpose, and that whatever they do doesn’t matter in any larger sense. And so evil is born.
Tell people that they’re morally worthless and they just might come to believe you.
It’s no coincidence that shootings so often happen in schools, where teenage boys might hope to gain some sense of moral purpose, and instead are told that they’re a bunch of numbers.
In the absence of good, other things will take their place.
Guns are much more real to gun controllers than human souls. But evil doesn’t require a gun. And controlling the location of inanimate objects will not fix the moral foundations of the soul.