This post is part of the March Synchroblog: Guns and God. Links to the other posts are listed at the end the article.
I am really tired of people trying to co-op God to support their political position. Guns and God do not go together. Gun control and God do not necessarily go together, either. You probably figured out by now that I don’t believe that God is a Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. Those tags are placed on every conceivable issue and there is no way for either side to always be right on all of these issues, but it doesn’t keep them from saying God is on their side.
I grew up in an area where there are gun racks in pickups and owning a gun, hunting, and target shooting are normal. Now I live in suburban Chicago where there are few places to shoot and to hunt. Here, guns are equated with evil.
I hear people talk about gun ownership like it is part of being an American, like apple pie and the flag. They think of it as a sacred right. I hear other people who seem to regard guns in the same light as they do cancer of hitler.
Today issues with a political component to them do not receive the needed exchange of ideas in a respectful conversation. Each side simply preaches to their own choir, inciting an even more emotionally fueled, visceral response that pushes the two sides further apart.
There should be plenty of space for conversation around this concern. That space would include those who feel they should tenaciously hold on to their constitutional right to own firearms, those who are responsible guns owners, those who are concerned for their own protection, and hunters. It should also include those who are frightened and sickened by gun-related violence and murder and those who are spooked by the lethalness of guns.
Those who vilify people with a different position should be excluded from the conversation.
Is there anything wrong with owning a gun for hunting, target shooting, skeet shooting (like the president confessed he enjoyed), or personal protection? Is it right to try to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals and to try to limit their excessive lethality? The answers to these questions are more than obvious. Will we ever be totally successful in keeping guns from falling into the wrong hands and being used in violent crimes? The answer to that question is equally obvious.
Let’s get real, would Jesus even have anything to say about guns or would he focus on issues of the heart, the people on the fringes of society, and the people who grossly misrepresented him? We forget that he lived in country with a horribly corrupt, violent government, but had almost nothing to say about it. He did, however, have a lot to say to the religionists about their corruption, greed, and the way they heaped impossible demands upon their adherents.
I have a 22 rifle that I got when I was a kid, but I am not sure where the bullets are. It has been so many years since it has been fired, it must surely need a good cleaning and oiling. Personally, I don’t particularly like guns. When I was young I thought I wanted to be a hunter, but when I tried it, I found out that I am more of a hiker than a hunter and more of a fascinated observer of wildlife than a killer of animals.
When the Sandy Hook shooting happened, I was heartbroken and angry. Like the president, I thought we have to do something. Yet, in reality there is very little that can be done legally and criminals and the mentally ill probably will not be concerned with what laws are on the books.
A purely emotional reaction (and we all had one) that does not consider all of the facts will not lead to good legislation. But we can mourn for the victims, weep with their families, encourage reasonable, respectful discussion, and be a proponent of improved legislation.
Like Vice President Biden said, using his weird metaphor, “There is no silver bullet.”
Here are the links to the other posts.
- Jeremy Myers – Why I Joined the NRA
- Chris Jefferies – The Gun of Self-Defence?
- Carol Kuniholm – Guns, God, Mercy
- Gibby Espinoza – Gun Control?
- Liz Dyer – Turn the Other Clip, This One is Empty
- Marta Layton – Christian Ethics at the National Review and the Dish
- Kathy Escobar – What Do We Want to be Known For?
As I explain in my own post, I cannot enter into the debate as I live in the UK. You write with good sense and a fair attitude and I particularly love the WWJD section! Jesus’ heart was always love – towards the Father, his friends and followers, the crowds, and even his enemies. Even as he was being arrested he told Peter to lay down his sword.
In the end it’s up to each one of us to lay aside violence and pick up love, joy, peace and extend them to everyone around in grace.
Chris – We are citizens of a different kingdom, aren’t we?
Glen, I agree with everything you said here but like I said in my post the question that haunts me is “why does the U.S. have such a higher rate of murder than so many other countries? There has to be something unique going on here, doesn’t there? Is it our gun laws or something societal/cultural? Any ideas?
Liz, that’s a great question. Thanks for taking this a little deeper. The U.S. is actually #11 in the firearm death rate among all the nations of the world. Some Central and South American countries, along with a couple of African nations are actually “ahead” of us. This surprised me. However, our country is more “developed” than those countries.
Off the top of my head, I think of some things that may contribute to gun violence in the U.S. are perhaps some of the very things that have made America great.
Guns are a big part of our history. We fought for our independence. We fought each other when our unity was threatened. We fought the original inhabitants of the land and took it from them. We have fought to help other nations to keep them from being conquered by other empires. We fought to protect our freedom. We have glamorized this fighting and killing, especially in the entertainment industry.
The opportunity to amass material possessions necessitates our protecting those things from people who don’t have them, but want them. We are very individualistic as a culture and possessive and proud of what is ours, and we are ready to fight to protect it.
It seems to me that our growing sense of individualism, egotism, and lack of compassion and socialization have made us angrier than ever.