Guns Are Not the Problem– Broken Lives Are


Newton, ConnAs I write this, the horrors of yet another mass shooting are unfolding before our eyes, this time at Sandy Hook Elementary school near Newton, Conn. It happened again. Someone armed himself, entered a public place, and opened fire on innocent people. In a split second, lives were taken, and many more loved ones suddenly lost a child or another loved one in a horrific act of violence. 18 children woke up this morning to go to school. They never got home.

And when this happens, we’re shocked in disbelief. I am sickened at the thought of it. The horror overtakes us. We get angry and we demand an explanation. We need something or someone to blame– some deranged sicko. Society. God. And of course guns. It never fails that when a shooting like this happens, immediately the cry for greater gun control or even gun elimination goes up. I sympathize deeply with all of this.

But as always, I find myself concluding the same thing: guns are not the problem. You can control and regulate guns to the nth degree, and I guarantee you, this kind of thing will still happen, even as regularly.

Now, before you lampoon me as some kind of right-wing, card-carrying NRA nut job who worships the Second Amendment, calm down. I’m none of those things. I think the Second Amendment is a good thing. I support peoples’ right to lawfully possess fire arms, and I believe in reasonable gun control and regulation. At the same time, I do not own a gun, and I probably never will. That’s a personal choice.

But every time a shooting like this happens, and the gun control cries go out, I think of 9/11. On 9/11 nearly 3,000 people died, and not a single gun was used. What caused those deaths? Box cutters and airplanes. But actually box cutters and airplanes didn’t murder nearly 3000 people, either. People did.

Guns or anything else used as a weapon are not the problem. The people who would use them to commit an act of evil are the problem. We’re seeing an uptick in the kind of desperation, alienation, anger, and depression that lead to these kinds of awful killings. We see desperation, alienation, anger, and depression all around us, don’t we? We see it acted out in a number of ways to varying degrees of ugliness. I saw it at a gas station today. I even see it in good church people.

It’s the human heart that needs healing, and no increase in gun control laws or any other kind of law will cure that ill. Only God can, either through direct intervention or through you into the lives of those around you. That’s the cure.

We’re nearing the Christmas season and the yearly reminder that God has not left us on our own to our own violent ways. God was born to us as our Emmanuel, as Jesus Christ. God is surely among us, and Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us. He promised us the way of peace and joy. God has not forsaken Newton, Conn. God is clearly there now in ways we can see and not see, and that gives me a great deal of solace.

How can we prevent things like this from happening again? The answer: by making sure we love the unlovable. When we know of lonely, difficult people, don’t leave them there. Love and care for them. Let them know they are important to you. Dry their tears. Let them vent their anger. Go out of your way to do intentionally nice things for them. Most of all, let them know they are not alone.

Then maybe, just maybe, we might prevent more of these violent acts of desperation from happening again. God only knows we cannot fathom any more of them.

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10 Comments

Filed under Rants

10 responses to “Guns Are Not the Problem– Broken Lives Are

  1. I cannot understand why this would be an either-or situation. There are many problems involved including mental health, violent attitudes condoned by societal mores, lack of support networks for people with emotional troubles, lack or early detection of mental and emotional illness, AND easy access to firearms for people who should not have it, AND allowing weapons with excessive firepower to be purchased by the general public.

    And Chris, much as I love you, I have to call bullshit when you say things like “You can control and regulate guns to the nth degree, and I guarantee you, this kind of thing will still happen, even as regularly.” They would happen but never as often and rarely as lethally. The fact that _some_ gun violence could or would still happen with some restriction on ownership is no reason not to make an effort to reduce the problem.

  2. Sonya

    Practicality and spiritual support go hand in hand. Of course broken lives are the problem – but how do we know that more people WON’T die if we have gun control laws “to the n’th degree”? It just makes common sense to implement the tightest amount of gun control laws to coincide with our outreach of love to people who might do such a inhumane thing. My belief is that after today’s horrendous event, anyone who doesn’t think we should revisit our gun control laws to make them more strict, is just plain stupid. And I’m sorry, but that includes the author of this article.

  3. Edmund Mettheny

    Chris,

    You make a big, big mistake at the very beginning of your argument.

    “But as always, I find myself concluding the same thing: guns are not the problem. You can control and regulate guns to the nth degree, and I guarantee you, this kind of thing will still happen, even as regularly.”

    Do you see it there? Right in the first sentence?

    You assume a single source to the problem.

    Guns are not THE problem.

    Easy access to firearms is A problem.

    The reasons why people go on killing rampages are complex, and simply taking away access to firearms will not prevent people from going on killing rampages. Note that in China, where guns are highly restricted, an individual recently went on a rampage in a school with a knife.

    But having easy access to firearms does, in fact, change the equation. The school shooting rampage in Connecticut killed 26 people. The stabbing rampage in China injured 22.

    The difference there is “killed” vs “injured.”

    Can people kill one another with things other than guns? Yes they can. People have been killing other people with weapons since about 5 minutes after we became tool users (or since Genesis IV, take your pick). But firearms are uniquely efficient at the task of inflicting bodily injury and death. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but it is for this reason that when we send our citizens into combat, we give them firearms rather than baseball bats.

    “You can control and regulate guns to the nth degree, and I guarantee you, this kind of thing will still happen, even as regularly.”

    Depends on what you mean by “this kind of thing”. If what you mean is “people will still go on violent rampages in schools” then you might be right. If, however, you mean “someone will be able to kill 26 people in a matter of minutes” you are wrong. Alternate forms of mass murder, such as bombs or gas, are far less accessible to the average person than firearms.

  4. Edmund Mettheny

    “But every time a shooting like this happens, and the gun control cries go out, I think of 9/11. On 9/11 nearly 3,000 people died, and not a single gun What caused those deaths? Box cutters and airplanes. But actually box cutters and airplanes didn’t murder nearly 3000 people, either. People did.”

    Please not that following 9/11 extensive new regulations were, in fact, put into place regarding what you can and cannot carry on aircraft, and the government spent a very large amount of money and shuffled/merged a large number of federal agencies. Standards for airport and aircraft security were tightened.

    Think anything like that will happen with guns because of this?

  5. Carol

    It is sad that so many Christians believe more in a dysfunctional political system than in Grace to solve humanity’s problems.

    Conservative Christians believe in a 50’s political agenda and Liberal Christians believe in a 60’s political agenda.

    I am an unaffiliated Christian voter who has not been back to Church since the latest Presidential election cycle. I am still recovering from being caught in the ecclesiastical sub-culture’s circular firing squad when refused to believe that America was doomed if Obama was elected (the Conservative Christians) or Romney was elected (the Liberal Christians). I had my opinion of which candidate was the “lesser of two evils”; but I couldn’t believe that either was going to be the savior of our country. Hedonistic materialism is causing our values problem, not secular humanism and, if you think that isn’t a problem in the church, you haven’t been to a church wedding and reception in a professional middle class neighborhood.

    All of the greed isn’t on Wall Street, either. At 70 years of age, I can remember when you could show compassion for the poor without being accused of being a Socialist. If American christians had been as concerned about what was happening in America’s boardrooms as they are about what is happening in America’s bedrooms, we would not be having as deep a socioeconomic crisis.

    It only takes a little yeast to leaven the whole loaf or a little salt to season a dish; but it can’t be “salt that has lost its flavor.”

    “My bent is to say that, to the degree that a pastor, for the gospel’s sake, becomes political, he probably in the long run, blunts his gospel power to transform culture.”~John Piper

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it’s not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.” –Mahatma Gandhi

    “We are the first civilisation to treat monetary accumulation as an absolute goal, and it has obscured the whole of our discourse about shared well-being, or the ‘common good.'” ~Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

    “Beware of overconcern for money, or position, or glory. Someday you will meet a man who cares for none of these things. Then you will know how poor you are.” – Rudyard Kipling

    There are two things, Lord,
    I want you to do for me
    before I die:
    Make me absolutely honest
    and don’t let me be too poor
    or too rich.
    Give me just what I need.
    If I have too much to eat,
    I might forget about you;
    if I don’t have enough,
    I might steal
    and disgrace your name. Proverbs 30:7-9

  6. Carol

    On the concept of gun control by stricter laws; just think about Prohibition and our War on Drug Program.

    There is already a thriving black market in guns. Mexico is its leading trading partner just as the U.S. is theleading trading partner for the Mexican drug cartels.

    “Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy, will function properly.”–Vaclev Havel, Czech Politician

    “The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better… Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.” – Vaclav Havel

    “You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn. Of a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people it is impossible to solve any of our problems — human, economic, ecological, social, or political.” – Vaclav Havel

    “As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.” – Vaclav Havel

    “Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.” –Simone Weil

    “If we live good lives, the times are also good. As we are, such are the times.” ~Saint Augustine

  7. Edmund Mettheny

    “On the concept of gun control by stricter laws; just think about Prohibition and our War on Drug Program.”

    Carol – you are confusing the concept of regulation with the concept of total abolition. Both of the programs you mention were not attempts to regulate or control substances, but attempts to outright abolish them.

  8. Carol

    What you say it true; but my father was a lawyer, when it was still a profession not just another economic enterprise, and he knew that an unenforceable law is a bad law.

    To be enforceable a law has to have the support of a large number of the population. There might still be support for banning the ownership of automatic weapons by civilians; but the fear factor is so high, at least in the Deep South that the ownership of semi-automatic weapons has more support.

    Then, too, alcohol and other drugs take the edge off pain; they do not empower people. Quite the opposite, they anable people to live with pain.

    The gun is a phallic symbol. It represents power. That is why these wig-out massacres are usually perpetrated by males. Women tend to internalize the pain of feelings of powerlessness; men tend to externalize it. Drug use and violence are up because the American people feel increasingly disempowered by their Government.

    Even increasing gun control measures could result in the formation of more unauthorized militias with illegal weapons which would not be a good thing. Domestic terrorists are much more of a threat to domestic stability than foreign terrorist.

    We don’t need more laws, we need a reform of our political system that returns the power of self-governance to the local level where the people have more control. Our Federal Govenment, both political Parties, are owned by the large public corporations and other special interest groups whose interests they serves instead of defending the common good against their predatory practices. It is the high cost of campaigning through the mass media that has made our elected representatives servants of moneyed interests instead of the public.

    Widespread depression and/or violence in individuals are symptoms, not causes of our social ills.

    “The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”-Alex Carey, Australian author and psychologist

    “We are witnessing an unprecedented transfer of power from people and their governments to global institutions whose allegiance is to abstract free–market principle, and whose favored citizens are soulless corporate entities that have the power to shape and break nations.”–Joel Bleifuss, In These Times magazine, September 2001

    “Under American law, corporations enjoy the rights of persons – free speech, private property, limits to searches, rights of accused persons, trial by jury, “due process,” etc. The rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment were originally designed to protect individuals against the government. Corporations – which have the further advantages of being more wealthy than individuals, and of being immortal – didn’t acquire these rights democratically or by legislation, but rather by decisions of an “activist” Supreme Court a century ago. Before then, corporations were taken to be limited and specific arrangements. Even so their power was suspect. Thomas Jefferson at the end of his life warned that a “GOVERNMENT OF AN ARISTOCRACY FOUNDED ON BANKING INSTITUTIONS AND MONEYED CORPORATIONS” would be “RIDING AND RULING OVER THE PLUNDERED PLOUGHMAN AND BEGGARED YEOMANRY.” The triumph of the corporations – and the resulting corporate culture in which we live – is a 20th-century phenomenon, and it continues. The courts made corporations persons; the MAI [Multilateral Agreement on Investment] will make them states.” — C. G. Estabrook. “Asia, the World Economy, and Your Life.” Octopus. 8 May 1998

    “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” ~Benito Mussolini

  9. Edmund Mettheny

    “The gun is a phallic symbol. It represents power. That is why these wig-out massacres are usually perpetrated by males. Women tend to internalize the pain of feelings of powerlessness; men tend to externalize it”

    Since all the guns used in this particular massacre were originally owned by a women, I am not sure that your argument holds water in this case.

    “Even increasing gun control measures could result in the formation of more unauthorized militias with illegal weapons which would not be a good thing. Domestic terrorists are much more of a threat to domestic stability than foreign terrorist”

    While it is certainly true that the less regulation we have, the less unauthroized and illegal organizations will be around, I don’t think that is a very good argument against regulation. The end result of that argument is to eliminate almost all regulations. If murder wasn’t illegal there would be no murderers in the US, but that isn’t a good reason to make murder legal.

    “We don’t need more laws,”

    Are you really arguing that we can’t improve our legal code? That it is sheer perfection in all ways?

    “we need a reform of our political system … instead of the public.”

    While I agree with the sentiment you expressed in the remainder of the paragraph (I shortened it for space considerations) and the quotes that follow, I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive. I think that you are making the same mistake Chris did in assuming that there is only a single source to the problem, therefor a single solution. This is a complex problem, one that requires reform or change in many areas.

    • Carol

      Good laws proscribe rather than prescribe and, even more importantly, they require the assent of the vast majority of the people.

      I live in a NC, a border State in the process of turning from slightly Blue to Red.

      The South has never really recovered from the defeat suffereed in the Civil War aor the Reconstruction, which was really a rape by predatory Northern economic opportunists.

      Ruby Ridge and Waco remain very vivid memories in the South, more vivid than any massacre by a disturbed individual could ever become. Irrational though it may be, the mere mention of gun control is a catalyst for survivalist paranoia in a large segment of our Nation’s population.

      You are correct about women and guns. It is one of the less desirable side-effects of the empowerment of women by the Women’s Lib Movement. There are even pink rifles for sale in our local sporting goods store.

      What we traditionally define as “masculine” and “feminine” traits are actually alpha and beta personality traits.

      There have always been “tomboy” girls and “sissy” boys (who are also heterosexual, BTW); but statistically males are alpha-dominant and females are beta-dominant. The old rigid gender roles have been eroded in the minds and lives of all but the elderly in our society and that is a possitive liberating affect, for both males and females, of the Women’s Lib Movement.

      Yes, these are very interesting, challenging and complex times that we are living through. Fortunately, we seem to be on the verge of a quantum leap forward in human consciousness that brings us closer to the Christ-consciousness that is the Biblical eschatological promise that will be the final healing of all our personal and social ills.

      But until then:
      For every complex problem, there’s a simple answer: and it’s wrong. — Writer Umberto Eco

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