Thanks Shane

From Shane Claiborne:

So let’s imagine. What would Jesus say to our nation, where these are things are true:

  •  10,000 people die from gun-related homicides each year, that’s one Sandy Hook massacre a day, every day
  • there are nearly 90 guns for every 100 people
  • there are over 51,000 licensed gunshops (and 30,000 supermarkets)
  • guns that can shoot 100 rounds a minute, and are only designed to kill, are still legal
  • other than auto accidents, gun violence is the leading cause of death of young people (under 20)
  • 20,000 dollars a second is spent on war

There is a reason we talk about “Peace on Earth” so much around Christmas. There is a reason why we talk about Jesus as the “Prince of Peace”. He consistently taught that we can disarm violence without mirroring it, and that we can rid the world of evil without becoming the evil we abhor. So let us recommit ourselves to Peace this Christmas season and new year — in honor of Jesus, and in honor of the holy innocents.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    I dunno, what did he say about the violence of the Roman Empire?

  • Jag

    Perhaps the most disturbing pro-gun argument to me is that they somehow keep us free. I am not free if I cannot leave my house without worrying that I’ll be shot over a parking spot, or if I cannot send my child to school without worrying she’ll be gunned down in her classroom, or if my girlfriend cannot attend a movie or a political rally without worrying about her life.

    I am not a free man if I cannot live without the fear that one of the many mentally ill people in our society — or simply someone losing their temper — is going to take a tool designed purely to kill people, a tool that has been marketed heavily until there are countless thousands in circulation, a tool that is legally sold for cash with no identification required every day, and use it on me or my loved ones.

    As far as the Red Dawn scenario or the notion that our government will get to the point where the citizenry will form themselves into a militia capable of taking on the full might of the US military… really?

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    I am all for seriously cutting the US military. I am in favor of gun control.

    But I also think that we need to be reasonable about risk. Nearly 200,000 people die of medical mistakes each year (yes many of them are already sick and would die of other causes eventually). Car kill almost 4 times as many people as guns (but through reasonable safety rules and innovations in design the rate of car deaths is half that of the 1970s).

    The reality is that risk of death by mass shooting is pretty low. Death in commission of a crime or in drug related shooting is significant if you live in the specific parts of the country, but most proposed gun laws do not really deal with those types of issues.

    Waht I am concerned about is the fear. Both those that think their kids are doing to die in a school shooting and those that fear their government is going to take away all their guns and then imprison them or enslave them in some way. Both are unreasonable fears that are getting pumped up. The US is not going to completely disarm and the likelihood of your child dying at school from a shooting is very small.

  • PJ Anderson

    #1…thanks for that wise reminder, better than my though on this post.

  • Tom Howard

    Jesus does not, in my mind, reflect regulations. I don’t recall Him ever addressing the weapon. He always addressed the heart. This statement does not mean I am unconcerned. It is never really the weapon but the mind and attitude of the one using it I think. My concern is the rapid decay of our moral culture.

  • Chris

    I agree about the heart issue. But the spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. Wouldn’t it be wise to put a few more obstacles up so that we could have an opportunity to address the heart?

  • Rick

    Jag #2-

    The response from pro-gun advocates would be that freedom does not always equal safety/security, and “freedom” should not be sacrificed for “security”. There is risk involved when a society is free.

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    Chris #6: What did Jesus say about that?

  • Jag

    Rick #7 – Do I then have the freedom to own my own personal nuclear weapon, or do you feel that you should be secure from that threat? To say categorically that freedom should not be sacrificed for security is to argue for anarchism and against the premise that man is inherently sinful. I am not free to drive intoxicated, I am not free to sell heroin, I am not free to drive a car without a license and insurance, and I should not be free to own a tool designed solely for the purpose of killing multiple people quickly and efficiently.

  • http://www.chezman86.blogspot.com Kevin

    Jesus told Peter to put his sword away. Christians should put their swords away – literal or figurative ones (or political ones :)

  • BradK

    Jag #9,

    If having a personal nuclear weapon would make us free from the threat of nuclear attack, then maybe that should be allowed. Unfortunately none of us are safe from that threat, nor can we be made safe from it. But arguing (even categorically) that freedom should not be sacrificed for security is not to argue for anarchism. That is a nonsensical claim as if there is no ground between the two positions.

    Also, please note that while you are not free to drive intoxicated, sell heroin, or drive without a license or insurance, alcohol is not illegal. All drugs are not illegal. Cars are not illegal. And just like certain uses of alcohol, drugs, and cars are not allowed, so it is with guns. It is not legal to carry one concealed without a permit. It is not permitted to shoot or kill someone with one unless one’s own life, or that of another, is at stake. Your argument that because drunk driving, selling heroin, and driving without a license are not permitted one should not be able to own a gun is fundamentally flawed.

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    From a legal standpoint, personal autonomy and safety are in many ways directly at odds with each other, and there’s not a way to objectively say where the balance between them should be struck.

    Jesus may have told Peter to put his sword away, but I think it’s a pretty big jump to say that was henceforth an eternal injunction to all Christians. And an even bigger jump to say that Jesus meant for governments to legislate it.

  • BradK

    Also, regarding the original post, let’s consider these facts:

    – 35,000 people die from automobile accidents each year, that’s over three Sandy Hook massacres a day, every day (there are 25,000 deaths from unintentional falls and 30,000 by unintentional poisoning)
    - there are nearly 90 automobiles for every 100 people
    - there are over 49,000 licensed automobile dealerships (and it is legal for anyone to openly sell their own car on the street without restriction)
    - automobiles that can travel at speeds of over 100 mph are still legal, despite no posted speed limit in this country being greater than 70 mph
    - other than unintentional falls, auto accidents are the leading cause of death of seniors (over 65)
    - At least 18,000 dollars per second is spent on cars

    Also, the number of people who die in the U.S. in one year due to accidental drownings is more than 20 times greater than the total number of people killed in mass shootings in this country since the Columbine school shooting in 1999. The number of people who die each year due to fires or choking is about 15 times greater than all of those mass shootings. The yearly deaths due to accidental poisoning or unintentional falls dwarfs either of those by almost a factor of 10.

    Also, there is no statistical correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates or even between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates. See charts:

    http://www.objectobot.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/us_rate.jpg
    http://www.objectobot.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/us_rate2-1024×574.jpg

    The national murder rate in this country and trended steadily downward over the last 20 years despite a steady increase in gun ownership.

  • http://diana Diana Trautwein

    Thanks for this, Scot. I don’t think any of us – even those who are committed pacifists and would never own or use a weapon of any kind for any purpose – would argue that guns should be banned. And I don’t think that’s what Jag#9 was arguing. At least, I don’t read it that way. But licensing? Background checks? Time delays at time of purchase? YES, YES, and YES. And automatic weapons do not need to be carried by anyone except police and military officers. Period. I do not understand why these kinds of limits are viewed as tantamount to being a disloyal American or that instituting a few more checks and balances would lead us down the slippery slope away from democracy. (Is there any way to subscribe to comments on this blog? I love checking in on several Patheos contributors, but I hate the commenting system. Hate it.)

  • http://www.manofthewest.net Ian B

    @ Jag -

    “Perhaps the most disturbing pro-gun argument to me is that they somehow keep us free. I am not free if I cannot leave my house without worrying that I’ll be shot over a parking spot, or if I cannot send my child to school without worrying she’ll be gunned down in her classroom, or if my girlfriend cannot attend a movie or a political rally without worrying about her life.

    I am not a free man if I cannot live without the fear that one of the many mentally ill people in our society — or simply someone losing their temper — is going to take a tool designed purely to kill people…and use it on me or my loved ones.”

    I know what the gun rights advocates I know would say to that, and to a considerable extent I agree: the degree to which you fear, or worry about those things is your free choice. But the reality of this fallen world is that the possibility of those things will always, always exist, under any system. The fact that people don’t think about them in some places doesn’t mean the risk doesn’t exist. I grew up in Britain, which has had some of the strictest gun control in the Western world for the last 30+ years. 2 years ago in Britain a man killed 12 people with a .22 rifle and a double-barrel shotgun, 2 of the most common sporting (target/clay shooting and hunting) weapons in existence anywhere in the world. Do you propose banning .22s and shotguns? They would also argue that the right to effective self-defence is one of, if not the most, fundamental of all human rights, and therefore anything that restricts it should be considered with deep caution. I should add that the view that self-defence is a fundamental right has been the mainstream view in the Church for most of the last 1400 years or so, and that the logical corollary is a right to own and carry weapons for self defence has been very widespread, and was the accepted wisdom in England for at least 150 years before the US Founding Fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment.

    Also – to those who can’t understand why the gun rights movement views even the slightest moves towards licensing or registration of firearms with such profound suspicion, and feel that their belief that such moves are a prelude to confiscation and the removal of the concept of the Right to Bear Arms is paranoid fantasy: I wish I could agree with you. I honestly do. But I have studied the history of gun law in my homeland, the UK. When my grandfather was born, Britain had less gun laws than the USA has now, and a constitutional Right to Bear Arms was well established and had been broadening in legal application for the past 100 years. Less than a century later, Britain has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. 100s of thousands of guns have been confiscated from law-abiding citizens and whole classes of common firearms (all semi-auto center-fire rifles, nearly all handguns) have been made illegal in the last 25 years and the licensing system is so bureaucratic it took a friend of mine 3 months to be approved to own a muzzle-loading musket (which isn’t even classed as a firearm in the US). While there may be many (probably most of the posters here) who know and accept the legitimate ownership and use of firearms, there is a small “hard-core” of anti-gun activists who are on record as saying their aim is the effective disarmament of the civilian population of the world. They WILL use every minor victory as a stepping stone. and they are very aware that as gun ownership becomes more complicated, less people will own guns, public perception will change and the next step will be easier. And so on. I would love to be able to dismiss what I just said as right-wing paranoia, but I can’t. I’ve seen it happen.

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    Brad K –

    Auto accidents are absolutely a problem worth looking into as well. Their primary purpose however is for transport however. But you are right – we should naturally look into that as well. Making public transportation more of an option would help with that, having train/bus connections that can get anyone within a few blocks of their destination would cut way down on traffic incidents. And it also allows the poor to be more mobile. I have seen how effective this is across Europe and Asia, even in poor countries like Bangladesh, you can note how public transit improves those options. It is interesting how hard the same people who advocate guns so much also attack public transit as a “waste” of money despite how many lives it saves every year in drunk driving incidents.

    Back to the guns – sensible restrictions I think are more what is being debated, not total gun control (though it is nice to live in a country with total gun control! I feel very safe!) no one that I have heard is saying to take rifles from ranchers who then couldn’t defend themselves. But are you going to grab an assault rifle and massacre a coyote? Or jut fire a warning shot to scare it off? Even in the case of armed robbery – shouldn’t opt for mercy rather than massacre? If absolutely necessary, one well aimed shot should be enough – if its not then why the argument to arm teachers?

    What is freedom? If you want to a truly libertarian society, go live for a while in Congo. It is one. The problem is human nature is not naturally to be good. And the strong rule over the weak.

    Which, at the heart of the gun debate is where I see the core of this problem; guns infuse the owner with a sense of power and control. Without them, we are on more level footing. Guns are used in a large amount of domestic violence, and they give the owner a sense of power over their family and neighborhood. If we examine this, is it a good thing? I wonder how much for those who own assault rifles, it is about not feeling powerless rather than a true belief that guns make us more free – meaning are we associating feeling of moi nation and power with freedom? (Is this an across the board US problem that needs to be examined?) how do we as Christians make that doctrine of power and control match our injunction to “lay down our lives?”

  • beth

    @ Jag “Perhaps the most disturbing pro-gun argument to me is that they somehow keep us free. I am not free if I cannot leave my house without worrying that I’ll be shot over a parking spot, or if I cannot send my child to school without worrying she’ll be gunned down in her classroom, or if my girlfriend cannot attend a movie or a political rally without worrying about her life.”

    well said. thank you

  • Diane Reynolds

    Yes, Jag, I am with Beth. Well said.

  • BradK

    Diana #14, automatic weapons are already illegal. Licensing, background checks, and time delays at purchase are all already laws as well.

    Joy #15, the second amendment to the U.S. constitution is not about ranchers shooting coyotes. In fact, it is constitutional for congress to make it illegal to kill coyotes. But it is not constitutional for congress to infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The reason for this is stated in the constitution. A well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state. The security about which that amendment is concerned is security from the power of a strong centralized government. The right to keep and bear arms is not about hunting. It is not about target practice. It is not even about defending our homes from thieves or our schools from people like the Newtown shooter. It is about the right of citizens to defend themselves from the unfettered power of the federal government. Now we can all have a healthy debate about the best way for that to occur, but there can be no reasonable discussion if people just dismiss the basic purpose of the second amendment. The heart of the gun debate is not some personal sense of power or control for the owner. It is the necessity of a certain amount of very real power in the hands of the states and the citizens to counter the power of the federal government.

    Jag, beth, Diane, if you are terrified of being shot over a parking spot, or your child being gunned down in a classroom, or dying at a movie or political rally due to guns, you are simply vastly overestimating the likelihood of any of those events occurring. The horrific nature of events like this are causing you to see them as more likely that other seemingly less horrific events that occur every day MUCH more likely to result in your death. This is no different than being afraid to fly because of thinking that the plane might crash. The fear is real, but it is not based on reality. Here is an article from a political liberal who is “pro gun” which addresses this issue…

    http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/why-not-renew-the-assault-weapons-ban-well-ill-tell-you/

    Btw, I am not particularly “pro gun” myself. I have not fired a gun in probably over 30 years since I was a kid. The two weapons I own were given to me by my grandfather and are placed in a secure location where they are not accessible even to me if I were to need them to defend myself. I don’t even have ammunition for them. I don’t see the need to walk around armed. But I feel more secure, not less, because the citizens of this country have the freedom to do so. Great evil is restrained by this.

  • RMH

    As others have pointed out the sole purpose of the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting or even personal defense, it is solely designed to offset the threat of an overreaching, tyrannical government. Now, however unlikely you consider the possibility of our government becoming tyrannical, it is certainly not zero. The pages of history are replete with examples of this very scenario playing out time and time again. Cuba, Germany, Uganda, Russia, and others throughout history have either given up their ability to bear arms or that right was stripped by force. The outcomes for each of these populations was disastrous with millions slain at the hands of evil dictators and the societies they created were far from friendly to the Christian faith. After seizing power they systematically eliminated any political or religious groups that opposed the regime in power. A believer in Christ certainly recognizes a higher power and authority than the STATE, and the STATE cannot tolerate such a mindset.

    As a result, today the populations found behind what used to be called the “iron curtain” are predominantly void of any religious faith as well as any respect or concern for human life in general. Life in these areas is a miserable existence and one without any hope, especially since many have never heard the message of the Gospel.

    As to the argument that the citizens could not possibly stand up to the power of the military I would offer this: In NAZI Germany many of Hitler’s high ranking Generals were opposed to his cause. They repeatedly planned and schemed to remove him from power. However, they were unsure of just how much support they had within their ranks and with no armed populace to support any challenge to Hitler’s authority they repeatedly did nothing. Had they had some hope that the citizens would have joined their cause they may have been more inclined to take action. Furthermore, the citizens could have resisted the Gestapo, the Brown Shirts, etc., it might have been bloody but it could have perhaps been enough to prevent the slaughter of millions of both in the gas chambers as well as the battlefields of Europe.

    We are all heartbroken over the events of Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech and other tragic events. But please do not simply give in the overwhelming emotions of this subject and totally disregard the logic, the facts, and the history. Our 24 hour news society perpetuates the belief that these events are spinning out of control when they are really not, we just see more than we used to. In reality violent crime is down. In reality you are much more likely to die in an auto accident than be gunned down in a mass shooting. You are much more likely to be killed by a hammer or baseball bat than a gun.

    Please don’t rush to give up your “right to bear arms” for the sake of “Saftey and Security” you make wake up one day to find that you have neither!

  • Patrick

    Kevin,

    Jesus had instructed Peter to buy that very sword just a day or so earlier. Obviously to protect himself as Jesus’ special protection was going to be removed, read the passage yourself.

    Doesn’t it make better logic IF you know this that Peter’s use of the sword was wrong in that instance, not any and all uses of any privately held sword in Israel 30 AD?

    Jesus along with being God, was also a smart man, He knew the culture was extremely violent and dangerous and He even knew areas to avoid Himself and often did. Jerusalem being one, Jesus avoided that place a lot in His last year.
    Peter was attempting to interrupt the Divinely planned crucifixion of God’s Son unlawfully.

    We believers have self defense rights from God regardless of the “disarm the citizens only Caesar can be armed movement”, but, we don’t have the right to kill government agents like Peter tried to do who come to arrest us or people we love regardless of the unjustness of the arresting officers.

  • Jag

    The Hitler Gun Control meme isn’t true. Actually, in 1938 Hitler completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition. Many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18.

    “Hitler banned guns” is an NRA falsehood – pure propaganda that has taken on the weight of truth by simply being repeated ad infinitum and broadcast widely on TV. For my part, I have far more to fear from the 2% of the population who are NRA members than I do the government; they are the ones who are currently talking about violence, working themselves into a frenzy over liberals (just visit freerepublic.com). It wasn’t that long ago that two cops were shot down here with assault rifles by anti-government right-wing “patriots.”

    As far as statistics, the fact that I am 10 or 20 times more likely to die from being shot in this country than in countries that are just as free, just more civilized, cannot be obscured by chalking it up to media coverage, or diminished by the fact we are a large country.

    The rate is what’s important, and for the parents in Sandy Hook, the assault rifle death rate is 100%. And every one of those deaths was preventable. We have successfully given every crackpot and two-bit criminal in this country who has enough cash access to tools of death that can kill 20 or 30 people in seconds, with bullets designed not for hunting but for mangling flesh, and defined that as “freedom.”


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