In the wake of the brutal, senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun control debate is once again aflame in Washington, D.C. Advocates of strict gun control laws are taking advantage of the visceral, emotional nature of the event to push their agenda, while the NRA and their adherents have been put on the defensive. As frustrating as it is for supporters of responsible gun ownership to witness the irresponsible politicization of this issue, we are seeing how government reacts when free men cease to govern themselves with virtue and restraint. When the social consensus unravels and each person becomes a law unto himself, government must intervene to restore order. In the process, men become less free and the law becomes more and more repressive.
At America's founding, there was a broad social consensus about how to behave in society. Social norms – derived largely from Judeo-Christian traditions and mores – were widely shared and adhered to. Men largely governed themselves, and consequently only limited government was needed in the civil sphere. Over time, society has moved away from the notion of moral absolutes. People have embraced moral relativism, the importance of community has been forgotten and society is now reoriented to a new dynamic – that of the isolated, unaccountable individual. With the rejection of a universal moral authority, man is his own judge left to determine his own personal definitions of "right" and "wrong," and society pays the price as culture becomes increasingly coarsened. Man's inhumanity to man increases: If it feels good, do it. If the baby's inconvenient, kill it. If your parents make you angry or don't give you enough attention, kill them and everyone they care about more than you. Blow up a movie theater to get the attention you feel you deserve from the world. In the face of such senseless chaos, government has to intervene to protect its citizens and restore order to the republic.