I did learn some things from Aaron D. Wolf’s piece “Adam Lanza’s America” (American Proscenium, February).  But there is a glaring, unsupported assertion.  How do we know that “the next Adam Lanza” would for sure try to kill children with a knife, or a can of gasoline?  A semiautomatic weapon is so much easier.  And it makes it easy to commit suicide when cornered.

And, by the way, yes, I know that reinstating the Clinton gun-control measures might not reduce violence.  But people do not need access to high-capacity clips, and people do not need to own assault weapons.  They are not needed.  (That is my assertion.)

—Emil Posavac

Franklin, TN

Mr. Wolf Replies:

I’m grateful to Mr. Posavac for the opportunity to offer more glaring assertions.

Man is prone to violence.  Whether you are a fan of Charles Darwin or a Bible nutjob like myself, this is an easy one.  Men are, by nature, larger than women and use that size to their advantage.  We are also, as we say at my church every Sunday, “poor, miserable sinners.”  God gave us marriage for many reasons, but one very natural one is so that a man’s wife might be protected from rape and violence of other kinds.  Polygyny makes little sense in this regard, as it puts the husband at a disadvantage.  I could go on.

In order to protect our wives and children, we set up barriers.  Why?  It is our natural, God-given duty.  We use what is available to us—walls, doors, door locks, knives, baseball bats, Glocks, AR-15s, what have you.  In a properly calibrated relationship, that duty flows from love and service to those weaker vessels, but at minimum, it ought to flow from fear of embarrassment among other men for failing to do one’s duty.

Technology itself is neutral.  All depends on what we do with it.  Do you realize that God set a tree in the midst of the Garden that bore fruit which, if eaten, would mean the ruin of mankind?  I like what Martin Luther said about this in his lectures on Genesis.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil “was Adam’s church, altar, and pulpit.  Here he was to yield to God the obedience he owed, give recognition to the Word and will of God, give thanks to God, and call upon God.”  The tree was an opportunity for good.  What killed Adam and Eve was their desire to be as gods and their eating of the forbidden fruit—fruit that they found to be “good for food” and “pleasing to the eyes.”

The guns and magazines used by Adam Lanza were neutral, too.  He could have used them for good—say, to protect his mother instead of murder her.  Statistics and anecdotes reveal that many free Americans use these devices for good every week, even every day.  They use them to kill bad guys who are breaking into their homes, threatening the lives of themselves, their wives (or husbands), daughters, and sons, even their elderly parents.

How do I know that the next Adam Lanza will use something else if he has to?  I hope there isn’t another Adam Lanza, but I’m afraid the evil that motivates the killing of mother and helpless children was not born with Mr. Colt or his successors, nor will it die if certain technologies are outlawed or banned.  It is difficult to imagine the thought process of a deranged young man such as Lanza, had he not had access to his mother’s cache of weapons.  That difficulty does not, however, mean that the heart of a murderer is restrained by the law or by the taboos of culture.  Law is a powerful curb to evil, but in sinful men it is also a powerful motivator.

Mr. Posavac juxtaposes his admission that the assault-weapons ban “might not reduce violence” with an assertion that assault weapons “are not needed.”  I’m surprised to hear that coming out of Tennessee, where thousands of law-abiding citizens own what are properly called assault-style weapons.  Typically, it’s your Piers Morgan or David Frum types who blister at the notion that someone might claim to “need” a clip that holds more than six or eight or ten rounds.  These are people who do not know and have not handled the weapons they blame for monstrous crimes.  Men like Morgan, Frum, et al., use terms like gun violence but do not regularly take to the field or the range.  If they did, it might become obvious that, for example, it’s foolish to think of the average 9mm owner pausing to reload his six-round clip every ten seconds when he plans to squeeze off hundreds, even thousands of rounds at the range—all because “six” or “ten” or “whatever” is the magic number that supposedly stops the likes of Adam Lanza from mass murder.  (In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho used two pistols with mere 10- and 15-round clips to perpetrate the most deadly school shooting on American soil.)

In this reply I’ve completely ignored the Second Amendment and the constitutional guarantee of the availability of assault-intentional weapons for local militias to use against invading tyrants and preserve liberty.  But that was the Framers’ assertion.