The Devil's Right Hand

In an interview with British GQ, the actor Vince Vaughn outlined his stance on gun rights:

I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual. It's the same reason we have freedom of speech. It's well known that the greatest defence [sic] against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless [sic] human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds."

Whether or not "having a gun in public full stop" is good public policy is a matter of debate. And while I disagree vehemently with Mr. Vaughn's assessment on the value of guns, I do so because his opinion denies some basic spiritual truths:

  1. All creatures have inherent dignity and beauty. But when we refer to people as "monsters" who are "sick-in-the-head," we deny their dignity and we make it impossible to see them as deserving of love. And once we decide that some people are not worthy of love, we decide that no one is worthy to be loved.
  2. The world is a place of wonder. But if we are constantly afraid of burglars and the power of a corrupt and abusive government, there is no place to live in that wonder. We'll be too busy worried about what can hurt us, how it can hurt us, and what we can do to stop that thing from hurting us. The world is no longer beautiful--it's threatening.
  3. True and perfect joy comes from being patient in times of suffering. But when your response to fear is to threaten others with "the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back," all you do is add suffering upon suffering.

When I look at gun rights from a spiritual perspective, I don't think about about the Second Amendment, American history, or radical notions of personal liberty. No--when viewed from the spiritual perspective, I see arguments for gun rights--to borrow a line from Johnny Cash--as the Devil's right hand because they argue for robbing people of their dignity and the world of its beauty, and they make it impossible to know true and perfect joy.


Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’
— Luke 26:52