The Virtue of Guns
There has been quite a bit of social media sharing of this article, written by David Yamane, in response to a Psychology Today article entitled “Virtue and Guns.” The widespread sharing of David’s response is well-deserved (you should read it), because it’s a brilliant rebuttal of the original article’s implication that gun ownership erodes the owner’s high moral standing.
But I would go a step further than simply rebutting the idea that virtue is somehow weakened by the ownership of a tool. I would make the case that gun ownership can be an expression of higher virtue than the rejection of that tool.
In his response, Yamane cites the example of Riley C. Howell, fatally shot resisting a mass shooter at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Howell was hailed as a hero, sacrificing his life when his unarmed intervention helped to stop the murderer. But Yamane rightly goes on to question if Howell’s actions would have been somehow less virtuous if he had been armed with a gun and shot the attacker.
Instead, I would rather ask this question: Wouldn’t it be more virtuous to be properly equipped and trained (“well-regulated,” if you will) to stop a murderer quickly, saving as many lives as possible? Wouldn’t that be more virtuous than to reject those tools and skills, and perhaps be forced someday to sacrifice yourself as Howell did? Especially when you consider the high likelihood that unarmed defense against an armed attacker has a high probability of failure, and the impact of that failure on the people who are counting on you.
This is exactly why I became a committed everyday concealed carrier many years ago. With a sister who was a single mom, raising two little girls on her own, I found myself an uncle who spent a lot of time watching over her two young daughters. Many a day, I was the only adult with them for hours at a time, both in and out of their home. As most adults who are charged with the care of children come to realize, I was very aware that when it came to their safety and welfare, I was the only thing between them and the rest of the world. I was also quite aware that if something bad ever happened to them, and I was unable to protect them because my gun was at home, that I would never be able to live with myself.
Would I be more virtuous if I escorted these little girls through their day unarmed? Would I be more virtuous if we were attacked, and I…unarmed…fought their attacker valiantly and died, only to leave them to the whims of my murderer? NO.
This is just my example, but even absent the responsibility of protecting children, I believe that my life has value and is worth protecting. Yours does, too…and it is virtuous to defend it. And if it is virtuous to defend life, then it is also virtuous to do the best job possible, with the best tools available.
This is the virtue of guns.