The Proper Use of the Law
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrinethat conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.”
This is from the apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy. The background and context is religious law, but the concept of the proper use of the law will translate to civil law easily enough. In fact, in a letter to Christians living in Rome, Paul says: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
Let’s start from the negative: if there is a proper use of the law, then there must also be an improper use of the law. One of the improper uses of the law would be – preventing crime. As a parent of 4 children and a step parent of 3 others, I can say with some certainty that crime prevention is nearly impossible, and certainly not possible by rule-making. When my children were at home, I made and enforced rules concerning hygiene, safety, family cooperation, and some rules, I would have to admit, which were merely for my own convenience.
But I was unwilling to be a policeman or especially a prison guard. I didn’t search their stuff, I didn’t follow them around, I didn’t eavesdrop on conversations. I figured that sooner or later, all boils come to a head. Again the “Truth”: “The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” (from that same letter of Paul to Timothy). Laws cannot prevent crime. It isn’t designed for that.
The proper use of the law is to punish criminals. Read again the “Truth” of why the authorities bear the sword in a previous paragraph. Have you ever heard, or used, the phrase “took the law into their own hands”? What exactly does that mean? Clearly, that phrase means that someone punished another person for a violation, perceived or real, without waiting for the proper authorities to do so. But in that phrase, “the law”, is used to indicate the proper use of legislation – punishing criminals.
Now that the new year has come to us, our federal legislators – law makers – will be meeting and making new laws. Despite the fact that we just fell over a fiscal cliff (and the results of that may take a little time to be obvious, but there will be a consequence of the failure of our lawmakers to write a budget for the last several years), the law makers will be focused instead on making laws to prevent gun crimes. That will be a political circus put on for your entertainment. It will not be effective in preventing crime. See above.
Contact your legislators this week. Link this blog in your email. Encourage them to focus on making laws which will punish evildoers. Clearly, prohibition didn’t work. Banning alcohol was impossible and only led to more crime. (BTW the federal war on drugs does exactly the same thing.) Prohibition of certain types of firearms, certain types of magazines, or requiring mountains of paperwork will not reduce crime even a little. It will produce crime – the black market will survive just like cockroaches in a nuclear war.
What if we used the law properly? What if we punished criminals? What if we made it possible, by law, for us to protect ourselves from criminals? How about dropping classes from school curricula such as those on multi-culturalism and “Baby has two mothers”, and held a class teaching firearm fundamentals in school instead? How about arming teachers, and bankers, and convenient store clerks, and preachers, and you and me? Now there is a 45 caliber solution to crime prevention! There is a proper use of the law.