The New York Times columnist Gail Collins began her March 9th column by saying, “It’s been nearly nine weeks since that tragic shooting in Tucson, and you may be wondering whether there’s been any gun legislation proposed in the aftermath.”
I hadn’t been, actually.
But I do find it illuminating that Gail Collins had been and that she clearly thought this so normal as to assume her readers had been as well. “Of course we should expect stricter gun laws after a shooting like this. A bad thing happened, and every bad thing should be solved by government, in this case government censorship of guns.” And our collective obstinacy against passing such laws is terribly frustrating to her.
I think I understand why.
Even though I haven’t read enough columns by Gail Collins to say whether she believes in God, I have read enough to be absolutely certain she believes in Government. And her vision of Government is of an entity so powerful and wise that if only we shaped it properly, there would be no problems in the world, at least not serious ones like mass shootings.
You see, for the Governmentist, bad things only happen when the Law isn’t right yet. Consequently, when a really bad thing like the Tucson murders happens, the first response is to cry out in anguish, “Why, Government? Why did You let this happen?” Then, the instinctive response is to push for new laws so that such a thing will never happen again.
So when other (less devout) believers in Government don’t cooperate, she turns to her newspaper column in anger at their impurity of “doctrine.” In essence she scolds, “How dare you keep Government from creating heaven on Earth? Where’s your faith? You should be ashamed of yourselves!” Because Government is her functional God (promising to save her and the rest of us from whatever ails), she can’t help but instinctively react to a major crime this way.
Conservatives and libertarians, however, approach things differently.
We know that history teaches a simple lesson: bad things happen. They have always happened. And they always will happen so long as people are sinful. Even really bad things like mass murder and poverty and letting conservatives host radio shows will always be with us. And this isn’t necessarily evidence that government is too small or not functioning properly. Oh, to be sure, it can be evidence of that in some cases. But it usually isn’t.
That’s because there are far more factors involved in any serious crime than just a failure of government. Moreover, as hard as it may be for Governmentists to comprehend, there may have been no failure of government at all!