In the wake of another national tragedy perpetrated by a militant anti-Christian bigot, the gun control/mental health debate has once again taken off at a dead sprint.
Ever eager to pin shooting deaths on the pro-gun right, the press rushed to the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls to see how they would respond to this latest rampage.
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And as usual, Republicans hunkered down in a defensive posture and muttered irrelevant nothings about mental health and background checks, along with repeated calls not to politicize a tragedy that was political from the moment the gunman opened fire.
But among the platitudes, one candidate's response stood apart - both for its gaffe-esque wording and the immediate outrage it sparked on the left.
With just two words, one moderate Republican unwittingly produced the perfect conservative statement on gun crime. In fact, it might be the most conservative statement this establishment fixture has ever backed himself into, and prompted immediate efforts to control the damage among moderately liberal supporters who form the linchpin of his candidacy.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The brilliant synopsis?
Obviously that wasn't the whole statement, but it was enough to send the liberal media into a tailspin of righteous indignation. After all, what kind of heartless corporate puppet would dare suggest that evil people sometimes do evil things, and that more laws might not always be the answer?
That's heresy to an emotion-driven mob that has bought the notion that if government just had enough power, bad things would never happen.
But the outrage of the left over this, the most yawnworthy non-observation of the political cycle, gives us a unique window to their ideals.
And it's a scary view.
The idea that more government control over the private lives of individuals will eventually prevent atrocities from being committed is an incredibly dangerous philosophy.
It's also ironic that liberals, who form the majority of those concerned about the danger of an increasingly abusive police force, now openly advocate for a disarmed citizenry, leaving guns exclusively in the hands of the very police they fear.
Black lives matter, anyone?
The fact is that the only world in which rapes, kidnappings, stabbings and shootings don't happen, is the world of Tom Cruise's "Minority Report," in which an all-powerful and all-knowing state prevents crime by arresting criminals before they can act.
And that kind of world simply isn't compatible with freedom.
Liberty and security hang in eternal balance, as Benjamin Franklin reminded us. As long as people have a choice, some will choose to impose themselves upon others. Freedom is a dangerous thing.
It seems that after each national tragedy, the hand-wringers on the left sift through every grain of liberty they can get their hands on, looking for ways to regulate away every natural disaster, bad business decision, and murderous psycho. Their solution is always more government, more control.
As short-sighted as the call for more gun control is, the call for better background checks and more mental health regulations isn't much better. Neither addresses the real problem: freedom.
We can talk about a culture in decline, about the wane of traditional morality, or about the effect of a press that glorifies monsters and ignores heroes, but our political calculus as a society must continue to account for the fact that, as Jeb so neatly summarized it, "stuff happens."
The reason people ask politicians to respond to tragedies is that they want to know what government should do about them, and conservatives need to stop hiding from the fact that we believe there are problems in this world that government cannot and should not solve.
Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Defend it.
Year after year, stories of law-abiding citizens defending themselves and others with legal weapons continue to undercut the arguments of the anti-gun left. Areas that have seen gun regulations loosened continue to see lower murder rates. It turns out that if decent people have the right to defend themselves against violence, they will.
Who knew, right?
That's why it's so important that those who believe in limited government be willing to stand up for the primacy of the "boisterous sea of liberty" while acknowledging that it does indeed have its waves.
Because a free and armed citizenry is not only the cause for gun crime, it is also the solution to it.
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