I tend to favour more freedom and less government. My critics favour more government, because they think that people, if left to their own devices, will behave badly and create misery and injustice.
Those of us who believe in freedom do need to answer questions about what should happen when people perform evil deeds, when society is marred by evil features. I am not a freedom lover as a result of having a starry eyed view of the moral good of all men and women left to their own devices. I have read enough history to know that evil stalks the planet and has often disfigured the past. I have had enough encounters with unpleasant people to know that we cannot rely all the time on the assumption that left to themselves people will always do the decent and correct thing.
That same combination of reading history and reflecting on personal experience has also taught me that we cannot rely on government, on the exercise of state power, to correct and prevent all the wrongs that people may wish to do. Sometimes government is well intentioned, but ineffective. Large extra quantities of banking regulation did not prevent or lessen the crisis of 2007-8. Gun controls in Norway and the UK have not prevented some mass murders by people using weapons. Sometimes government itself attracts people who wish to use its power for bad ends. Governments can be corrupted by power and by evil officials and politicians. The Nazi state and the Stalinist Soviet state were just the most public dreadful examples of how much harm a rotten state can do if it puts its mind to it. Better intentioned democratic states can make errors of judgement or employ evil people who commit crimes under cover of the state whilst breaking its rules.
It sounds as if the USA in the wake of the recent tragedy will embark on a new debate around gun control. I am not going to intrude in their argument. It is for US democracy to settle the issue. The natural reaction after such an event is to recoil in horror, and to demand that the state does something to stop it happening again. The US will decide what, if anything, that something should be. I can understand those who say they must try gun control, because it might remove some evil people from access to guns. I can understand others saying mass murderers may get a gun permit before they murder, or they might buy illicit guns.
The problem most of us have is we cannot understand why someone would want to shoot so many people. We do not know how to identify people likely to carry out such a deed. We respond either by condemning them as pure evil, or by saying they are mentally ill and in need of restraint and treatment. Usually the authorities are spared the question of what to do with them, as they kill themselves at the scene of their crimes. In Norway a mass murderer was imprisoned. In jurisdictions with the death penalty if one survived he or she would probably be executed.
The truth is a free society is open to abuse and worse by the bad and the mad. All agree we need a rule of law. The bad break those laws. We actively debate how much law we need, and how free we can leave people to do as they will. Deterrence is the better part of enforcement. Some people by their evil or their madness put themselves beyond the power of the state to deter or to punish. That is what makes it so hard to understand, so hard for the grieving families to bear, and so hard for the rest of us to respond.