Yesterday was the worst mass shooting in American history. And today I feel heavy from it. I'm sure you do, too.
We are reacting differently today though, in part.
I feel baffled, frustrated, and a deep angst over our lack of gun control laws- a lack that allows a wife-beating man who had been investigated twice by the FBI, to legally buy an AR-15 and a handgun a week ago, which he used to commit this horrendous act of evil.
I cannot speak fully for how you feel- but I'm guessing it has to do with feeling threatened- threatened that your guns and rights to those guns could be taken away. I'm guessing you also feel blamed in a round-about away. So along those lines, I'd add that you seem to feel defensive.
And so we see that in the posts and memes defending guns and gun rights; that lash out against our president and fellow Americans that are calling for more gun control.
Well, I am one of those calling for more gun control.
And I propose this, in love, and in hopes that this could cause some pause for our bleeding nation:
If, on the day after the worst mass shooting in American history, you are unable and unwilling to even pause and reconsider our gun control laws, then I suggest one of two things may be going on for you: 1. You are ill-informed. 2. Guns and the right to those guns have become an area of idolatry for you.
Before you jump to defense, I ask a favor of you- would you please, truly, be willing to hear me out (note: not just read in anger while simultaneously mentally forming your retorts) and give this some heart consideration?
1. Maybe you are ill-informed:
Perhaps you do not realize how loose our gun control measures are currently; and maybe when you hear "gun control" you interpret it as "take all of our guns away". Maybe you don't understand that one of the things that is often meant by "control" is a desire to require background checks on purchasers of guns. Maybe you didn't know it was possible to legally buy a gun WITHOUT a background check, and yet it easily is:
Another aspect that is often meant by "gun control" is that we don't think criminals should be allowed to have guns legally. But since you may be ill-informed, maybe you thought criminals can't have guns legally. But, they often can. Not to mention the criminals that can easily buy a gun without ever revealing their past- because again, background checks are easily avoided.
Mental health would be another area that the "control" seeks to come into play more. And while I could keep explaining all of these actual aspects of "gun control", perhaps it would benefit you to read our President's actual proposals here.
If you've read the President's proposal, then we should be able to agree on this: unless you have something to hide, I do not know why these areas of gun control would threaten you so much.
Another area you may be ill-informed in, is the success that other countries have had in implementing stricter gun control. You can read in-depth about that here. Results speak for themselves.
Lastly, maybe you are ill-informed because you have bought into some simple, shallow quip from social media. Sayings like:
~ "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Actually, as we saw recently, a good guy who can tackle well can stop a bad guy with a gun. This statement actually has several other weak points to it; and if you're a Christian you should recognize the biblical principal that there is actually no one who is a good guy (Romans 3:10).
~ Social media will tell you guns aren't the problem, the people (the bad guys, ISIS, etc.) are the problem. But if it's true that people are so evil and capable of such horrors, then why wouldn't we want more restrictions in place to prevent them from being equipped to perform such evils?
~ Social media quips often give a false sense of safety to those who own guns. Sayings along the lines of "being armed will make the bad guy think twice", and that assure us that carrying guns will reduce our risk of being shot. For one, if being armed will deter such violence, then why are we the most privately armed nation, and yet have the highest cases of gun violence? As good ol' Dr. Phil would say, how's it working for us? Also, please remember: if you are ever in a situation where you need to use your gun, the chances are rather high that you will be unable to. When we are in emergency situations, our ability to think and reason go way down. I'm trained in CPR and even also have interpreted a CPR class separately from the one I took. I know it- well. When my son fell and hit his head and was unconscious a few months ago, I couldn't even remember "check for breathing" as the first step. I froze. Which is what our brains naturally do under such stress and shock. Police officers go through rigorous, continual training specifically on using their weapons when in duress. Don't think just because you took one class, you can suddenly be the hero in a mass shooting. Even if Facebook told you so.
~ Other quips on social media tell us that bad guys will find other ways to kill people apart from guns if their guns are taken away. This follows the same type of "surrender" thinking as "criminals don't follow laws anyways". But if we are driven by that type of thinking, we could refute every law we have. Because bad guys will be bad guys shouldn't mean we give up on restricting them or their weapons. See more on the link below.
~ Going along with the above, social media can insist that with more gun laws only the good guys will be punished. But if you're a so-called good guy, none of the proposed gun laws should restrict your gun use. For more on this point and the one above, please read this.
~ "No guns, know fear; know guns, no fear" is another meme I've seen. This one actually leads nicely to my second main point though, since it has to do with idolatry...
2. Maybe guns and your gun rights have become an area of idolatry:
"No guns, know fear; know guns, no fear" is a blatantly idolatrous statement. Our hope is to be in Christ alone, and just because we don't have a specific weapon does not mean we must live in fear and doom (and of course this statement ignores the great level of RISK that is included with gun possession).
But is this actually the heart issue here? John Piper wrote about Christians and bearing arms and addressed this more deeply than I will here. He pointed out that if our hope is so deeply connected to our guns, then our hope is not in the right place. He made a lot of great points about our heart in this area, so I encourage you greatly to read his post. Ironically, a lot of fellow "Christians" wrote unimaginably hateful things to him because of this article. Newsflash: if someone ELSE not being all pro-gun-love causes you to act in hate to that person, then your guns are an idol.
Where is your hope? What is your trust in? Are you primarily motivated by fear? Does the idea of gun control make you act hateful to others or to your government? Do you have respect for other aspects of self-defense, or are guns "the way"? Do you seek to "evangelize" others and get them on the gun bandwagon? Are you offended by others who aren't gun-lovers? Are you placing a greater value on guns then you should be? Do guns hold more worth to you then is spiritually healthy? Do you value and invest in your earthly weapons more than your spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18)?
Only you can answer these questions. But I think these are timely questions to ask. It is possible that guns and your rights to guns have become an area of idolatry to you; and maybe that is why the day after our largest mass shooting, you may be clinging to them tighter than ever.
If you've read this far, I sincerely thank you. This isn't my full philosophy on guns by any means. I simply am hoping to cause some pause and awareness on this area. It's more complicated than you or I can understand. But our heart postures should be one of humility and willingness to change if we can better protect our fellow Americans. It starts by asking ourselves tough questions. To be willing to open our mind in humility. Maybe, in the end, our answers will be the same. But there is honor in pausing and asking the questions. At this point in American history, it would be foolish to not do so.