Father Z has eloquently explained some major problems in the argument that “assault weapons” should be banned in America. Mark Lambert, a Catholic in the United Kingdom, takes issue with Father Z on this particular point.
Now it seems easy to see why these [Second Amendment] principles were important at the time the states were founded, but it seems very difficult to understand them as a justification in the context of a modern, civilised, society, for individuals to own assault weapons.
America, the abortion capital of the world is civilized? That’s highly debatable. Then again, there are those who say that London is the abortion capital of the world.
I would argue that the 2nd Amendment itself is what makes America (historically) more civilized than other countries. It is not preservation of the 2nd Amendment that makes us “uncivilized.” It is, rather, things like abortion and our entertainment industry that peddles swill which makes us more uncivilized than other countries. The 2nd Amendment is a reflection of civilization because it is a reflection of the very natural tendency of men to protect their families from aggression, no matter where that aggression may come from.
Why should the average American citizen be allowed to own an “assault weapon?” I asked my 15-year-old son this question. His favorite annual event, held near Fort Knox, is the Knob Creek machine gun shoot (video, website), so you should not be surprised to hear his response to the question: “It’s fun!” That sort of view may be what prompts our friends across the pond to believe our position on this is due to our culture. I would say that it is not “cultural” except in the sense that our culture in America embraces the natural (not disordered) desire in men to protect the weak from aggression. I am glad that my son enjoys watching other men blow up 50-gallon drums of diesel fuel using machine guns. Why? Because I know that my son is blessed with the very masculine quality of desiring to protect the weak from aggression by responding to that aggression with greater force. His desire to go to the machine gun shoot is not what tells me that. The fact that at the tender age of 12 he saved me from falling off a cliff during a hike at Cumberland Falls is what tells me that. He saw me stumble and cling to a tree, and he reached inside himself for the courage and the strength to help me back to safety. This is a natural, good, protective instinct in him, to do hard things to save his mother. He has defended his little sisters, too, from bullies on the school bus, by threatening to give back to those bullies whatever force is minimally necessary to prevent them from harming his little sisters. My son is masculine in a way that is ordered in nature in that he is a protector of women and children, particularly his mother and his sisters, and it is that quality in him that makes him enjoy the machine gun shoot. I am confident that the vast majority of participants in the machine gun shoot, who are mostly male, are there for the same reason, to express in a safe manner their natural, masculine, protective instincts.
This morning, Mark Lambert, James Melody and I, along with some others, were having a discussion about the American view of assault weapons and the 2nd Amendment. It appears to me that their concerns are about “assault weapons” and the idea that having them is, in and of itself, a reflection of a cultural tendency toward aggression. We all agree that savages should not own guns. Unfortunately, I think that there is disagreement on who the “savages” in society are. Owning an assault weapon is not, in and of itself, the mark of a “savage.” Rather, as I’ve explained, it is most often the mark of a civilized man who has a natural desire to blow things up because it is sometimes necessary to blow things up in order to defend your mom and your sister.
The five irascible passions are: hope and despair, courage and fear, and anger. There are six passions in the concupiscible appetite: “namely, joy or delight, and sadness, desire and aversion or abhorrence, love and hatred.” There may be some who like to go to the machine gun shoot because of fear, anger, or hatred. Here in Kentucky, a generally Christian state, I’d say that’s not the case with most of them. In my son’s case, he likes to go because of hope and courage, aversion to aggressors, and love. Yes, love, for the weak. He hopes to have the courage and the tools and expertise necessary to defend his mother and sisters if he is ever placed in the situation where he has to do so. At the age of 12, he had no idea that his mother might be clinging to a cliff and that he would be called to reach inside himself for courage and strength to save her, and so, he has learned that he should be prepared for anything that may come out of the clear blue sky to endanger the weak. That is not “fear.” It is being responsible.
My son is the kind of person who would make an excellent police officer or soldier, some day. No mother wants her son to go off to war, but all mothers should recognize the gifts in their sons that God has given them to help them to be whatever he has called them to be in life. No one who believes the use of “assault weapons” is invariably a reflection of fear or anger is going to be a good police officer or soldier. It is a healthy masculinity to desire to blow things up in preparation for defense of women and children. That is why it is wrong to consider that men are “savages” if they think it is “fun” to blow up 50-gallon drums of diesel fuel with machine guns. What is “savage” is wanting to murder women and children with machine guns. This is why we are ALL appalled, across the political spectrum, by mass shootings of school children. The response to tragedies like this which is expressed in the claim that the natural male desire to blow things up which are a threat to the weak is disordered in some way is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
It is natural to respond with force to those who would harm the weak. It is responsible and mature to be fully prepared, emotionally, spiritually, and logistically, to do just that.