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Posts Tagged ‘Gun Control’

El Paso

A couple console each other near an El Paso Walmart where a mass shooting occurred Saturday.  Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Mass shootings. What are Christians to make of them? But before we answer this question, perhaps we should sharpen the question a bit, asking instead, What are American Christians to make of them?

The obvious motive for my writing on this subject is the report from El Paso, TX, where another mass shooting has left many dead and injured, not to mention many other traumatized by the sinful violence of the event.

If that weren’t enough, I woke up this morning to hear of another mass shooting, this time in nearby Dayton, OH which reportedly has left 9 dead.

Oddly enough, both these shootings in far apart places – Dayton and El Paso are over 1,500 miles apart – both have a personal connection to me. El Paso is the home of several friends of mine from ThornCrown Ministries, while I personally know a man who currently serves as an officer on the Dayton police force. My friends are all safe, but clearly there are many people in both places who have suffered great loss.

The response from the news media and other Second Amendment foes is predictable: Guns are the problem and must be more strictly regulated. The ultimate goal of these people seems to be the complete disarmament of the American people.

As Christians, what are we to say to this? Certainly, in the wake of such tragedies it is tempting to go along with the anti-gun rhetoric. But we must ask, What does the Bible say about the right of private citizens to bear arms? Does Scripture prohibit private citizens from owning weapons, or does it support their doing so?

Another question related to this is what does the Bible say about criminal justice? Does the Bible call for crime punishment or crime prevention? How we answer these questions will serve to guide us as we evaluate the statements we see in the news concerning the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

The short answer to the first question is, yes, the Bible allows for private citizens to own weapons. To the second question, we answer that the Bible calls, not for crime prevention, but for crime punishment.

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MFOL_Hogg

Student leader David Hogg speaks at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., March 24, 2018.

They came, the saw, they marched. On Saturday, March 24 2018 approximately 200,000 people filled the streets of Washington D.C. to call on Congress to pass anti-gun legislation which the marchers claim is the only solution to solving the problem of school shootings / mass shootings in the US.

On their website, the marchers list three demands: 1) A ban on the sale of assault weapons, 2) A prohibition on the sale of high-capacity magazines, and 3) Requiring background checks to ensure dangerous people can’t buy guns. Let’s look at them.

According to March For Our Lives (MFOL), “Our elected officials MUST ACT by,” in the first place, “Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.” We are told that “No civilian should be able to access these weapons or war.”

This statement is propaganda. The problem is its central term, “assault rifle,” is never defined, yet we’re told they are “weapons of war” to which civilians should not have access.

But the rifles that were used in the various mass shooting are not “weapons of war.” That is to say, they are not machine guns or the sort used by soldiers in combat. Here, I’m talking about guns such as the Vietnam era M16 or the more recent M4. These are fully automatic rifles, what are often referred to as “machine guns,” which are designed to fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull.

The AR-15s used in the mass shootings listed on the MFOL website were semi-automatic rifles, not fully automatic. This is not to say that the AR-15 – and just to be clear the “AR” in AR-15 does not stand for “assault rifle,” it stands for Armalite Rifle, the name of the company that developed the particular style of rifle in the 1950s – but they are not “weapons of war” as the MFOL website claims. By calling the AR-15 a “weapon of war,” MFOL is attempting to confuse the public to advance their political agenda. In other words, they’re propagandists.

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Parkland_02

Mourners look at a memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in a park in Parkland, Florida on February 16, 2018. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the Florida high school leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE

In light of the well-organized, well-funded, and unprecedented attacks on the Second Amendment and on its supporters in recent days, it seemed good to me to set down a few inconvenient truths relating to the right to bear arms and the causes of mass shootings

First, as the old saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” An article in the Huffington Post from last fall called this argument tired, logic-deficient, obvious and irrelevant, but it is nothing of the sort.

True, the argument has been around for a while. I remember it being used back in the day when I was a kid, but that doesn’t make it tired. In fact, it may be one of the most important truths to bring up in any discussion about the Second Amendment.

Guns are inanimate objects. They have now will of their own, no moral agency. In themselves, they are neither good nor evil. Guns are tools as are hammers, baseball bats and pickup trucks. And just as hammers, baseball bats and pickup trucks can be used for both good and evil, so too can guns.

Neither good nor evil reside in the gun, they reside in the heart of the person using the gun.

The Huffpo calls this point obvious. But is it? It’s fair to say that it should be obvious, but given the rush to restrict or outright ban gun ownership by certain groups following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, I’m not so sure it is.

If it were obvious, it should be equally obvious that stripping citizens of their right to bear arms is not the proper response to mass shootings. Yet the gun grabbers have never been more shrill in their demands to limit, or completely eliminate, Americans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to own guns.

“There ought to be a law to banning ‘X’ to ensure that ‘Y’ never happens again,” on the other hand, really is a tired response to tragedy, but that doesn’t stop people from making the argument.

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