Rushing in where angels (at least in Texas) fear to tread!

So, once again we are saddened by the tragic mass shooting of innocent men, women and children. This time, apparently, from news reports, twenty children under 12. Are we becoming jaded by the frequency of the horror? I fear I am. I wish it were not so. I suspect many of us are beginning to put these school and mall and movie theater shootings in the category of the normal. Not that we think there’s anything good about them, but I fear we are beginning to think of them like we think of, for example, tornadoes. They happen. What can you do?

About once weekly I see a full page newspaper ad for guns. Upwards of 100 deadly weapons, many of them not useful for hunting, are advertised as if they were clothes or home appliances. One doesn’t have to be a pacifist or even a gun-control advocate to see something wrong with our American obsession with guns.

I wonder what it will take for the gun lobbyists and defenders of unfettered gun owners’ rights to sit back, reflect, and wonder if maybe we need something more in the way of effective prohibitions of dangerous people purchasing and owning guns?

Sure, sure, some are going to say “We already have laws limiting access to guns!” Well, the obvious answer to that is, either they’re not being enforced or they’re not stringent enough.

And I ask why anyone outside of law enforcement or the military needs or should own some of the weapons I see advertised. They aren’t for hunting. Marksmanship? I don’t think so. I can only conclude that some people get a charge out of owning such guns. (In fact, I’ve known some.)

I predict the response to this latest mass shooting will be more security at schools–turning them gradually into fortresses. But that’s not likely to keep madmen with guns away from the children. They’ll just come up with new approaches to them. Shall we turn every mall and theater into an airport (in terms of security)?

The one approach we haven’t seriously tried is getting guns out of the hands of such people, keeping them, perhaps anyone, from purchasing for his or her own use assault weapons.

A while back, after the mass shooting at the theater in Denver, I wrote here about how nobody seems to be talking about the fact that virtually all of these shooters are boys or men. When are we, society’s leaders, educators, politicians, social workers, going to recognize that something, whatever it may be, is wrong with boys and young men in today’s society and develop programs to turn them away from violence? Every university I know of has programs for young women about body image dysfunction and eating disorders. How about some similar programs aimed at boys and young men about how to resist the impulses to violence brought on by a combination of visual images of extreme violence and testosterone?

  • Andy

    I have learned from you and others that if we put our hope in a “kingdom of this world” solution, we will be disappointed -that Christ and his kingdom is the answer. But truth is truth; but we might disagree on what is true? Your musings force me to think, though, and that is good. I’m not sure where the balance is between engaging world systems, and Christ as the answer to what’s wrong with society.

    I think SOCIETAL problems are closer to the core of this issue than guns. I think you said as much in your last paragraph on the all-too-increasing-glorification of violence among men.

    I too hope I’m not becoming jaded. I tend to avoid the news because I hate stories like this. I’ll have to commend the internet news coverage, so far. The stories of the teachers have effectively shattered my jadedness this time and affected me emotionally.

    • rogereolson

      I confess I haven’t even been able to watch the TV news accounts and analyses of it. It’s all just too depressing. So I try to keep up with it by print media news.

    • Justin

      I think you hit the nail on the head in the last paragraph of this article. This is a society/culture problem and not a guns problem. Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a single firearm and killed more than 160 people and injured hundreds more. There were no new laws or even talk about changes to purchasing fertilizer, gasoline/fuel, or renting trucks after that event… Murderers will find a way to accomplish their task. We need to focus on changing our culture of violence to one of brotherly love. That is the real solution.

      • rogereolson

        Neither do we hear anyone saying “Bombs don’t kill people; people kill people” (so let’s legalize the sale and ownership of bombs).

  • Joshua Wooden

    “I wonder what it will take for the gun lobbyists and defenders of unfettered gun owners’ rights to sit back, reflect, and wonder if maybe we need something more in the way of effective prohibitions of dangerous people purchasing and owning guns?”

    After seeing their responses, both written and spoken, in newspapers, blogs and nightly news, I don’t think anything will change their minds. They always keeps repeating the same platitudes and cliches.

  • http://shaneblackshear.com/blog Shane

    Dr. Olson, kudos for writing this. I’m troubled at the response of most Christians toward this issue. I’ve seen malicious statements aimed at others for “using this tragedy to promote [their] gun control agenda.” On what platform are we suppose to have this discussion? I get the feeling that most believers don’t believe that we should even be having the discussion.

  • GarthK

    One side will say, “Too many people have guns” while the other will say, “Too few people have guns” and, as always, nothing will change and these horrific events will continue to occur.

    Same-o, same-o…

  • TerryJames

    I’m a hunter and I have no problem with new gun regulations. I think the NRA has greatly over played their hand and eventually people will have enough, especially with assault weapons, though I think hand guns may be the bigger problem.

    But I think your last paragraph is the more important focus. We’ve always been a gun owning and toting society. My question is what’s happened in the past 30 years that has changed behavior? I think it is true that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If we had 40% less guns would that make the difference? I don’t think so. I’m one who believes it is so much more to do with entertainment–movies and games and desensitizing a generation. Ask any advertising executive if they know how to change a group’s behavior and they can prove it by increased sales. We have changed the behavior of a generation.

    One more point. I remember 30 or so years ago when the teachers unions said that schools are not the place to teach morals. “Whose would we teach?” I remember then thinking what might the fruit be of that decision. Now we have both amoral kids through amoral bankers. Do they even know there is a right and wrong?

    • rogereolson

      Oh, don’t get me started! When my daughters were in public schools in Minnesota the school board invited “community leaders” to a meeting to discuss what morals should be taught in public schools. The supreme court had decreed that public schools could teach “community values.” They broke us up into task groups and gave each group a large sheet of paper to write “community values” on. When they put those large sheets of paper with lists up on the wall we could all see that “love” was near the top of each list. As I recall, no list was without it. Yet, when the list of “community values” to be taught in the schools was published, love was nowhere to be seen on it. So I made an appointment and talked with the administrator who was in charge of the effort. She explained (talking down) to me that “love” is a religious value and so can’t be taught in public schools. To her (and apparently the board) “honesty” and “respect” aren’t tied to religion but “love” is, so…

    • Tom

      “Now we have both amoral kids through amoral bankers.”

      I think that sentence does a nice job of summing up a large part of the problem. We just have to throw the amoral, or maybe it should be immoral entertainment industry in the mix.

  • Tom

    What happened Friday is completely unacceptable. Something has to be done culture-wise. But even if the culture is too hard to redeem then we have to curb easy access to guns. I know personality disorders may have been involved with the shooter but the coupling together of a disturbed mind with access to guns in the stew of a culture that glorifies violence is what made this horrible tragedy possible. The NRA has to be held accountable at some level. It’s such a big business. I know they say they are concerned with second amendment rights but there’s no denying it’s also a big business too. They make huge profits. Sorry, I am just lashing out right now. I am so mad, disgusted, and sad. We have to do something about this.

  • Robert Dilday

    Roger, excellent piece — your analysis is exactly right. I’d been interested in an exploration of an additional dynamic. At least some advocates of unfettered gun ownership are not just hunting enthusiasts or attracted to the “sport” of marksmanship, but believe it to be a protection against “tyranny.” The so-called constitutional right to gun ownership, they say, is a guarantee that if (when?) the government becomes oppressive and tyrannical, they’ll have the necessary resources to respond. If guns are banned or seriously restricted, “the people” will have to meekly submit to authoritarian government. The attitude toward the political process which undergirds this kind of thinking is frightening, at best. But it doesn’t take much scanning of the internet to find it expressed. I’m thinking of a pastor’s recent comment, quoting an American Catholic bishop referring to the supposed threat to Christianity in the U.S., who allegedly said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Those who subscribe to that view are likely to resist any gun control proposal, no matter how modest.

    • rogereolson

      Paranoia is rampant in American society.

    • Joshua Wooden

      “…if (when?) the government becomes oppressive and tyrannical, they’ll have the necessary resources to respond.”

      Unless they’re also stockpiling heavy explosives, jet fighters, helicopters, and at least a whole fleet replete with aircraft carriers and submarines – I don’t think owning an assault rifle or two will be sufficient.

  • B Brown

    Guns aren’t the problem, sin is. Take away the guns and these wackos will use fire, gas, cars, knives, poisons, etc. Prohibitions aren’t the answer.
    Maybe the problem lies in this nation kicking God, His law, His commandments, and His rights and wrongs out of the public education system, and out of the public square.

    • rogereolson

      It’s strange, though, how the most gun crazy areas of America are also the most religious.

    • James Petticrew

      Well in in my coutry after our school massacre we banned hand guns, we haven’t had a mass shooting since. There seems to have been several just this year in the States, so prohibition does seem like part of a solution. Gun deaths in the US are I think 50 times higher per head of population than in the UK

    • http://tachesterton.blogspot.com Tim Chesterton

      It’s not true that guns aren’t the problem. Statistics all show the USA way out in front of other western countries for gun violence and homicide. Even countries like the UK, which have enormous racial tensions, lag far behind the US. What’s the difference? In all the other countries it’s far harder to obtain firearms. Here in Canada we have the same ‘wackos’ that you do in the States, but our firearms homicide rate is about a third of yours. Oh, and by the way, our society is more secular than yours, so the issue isn’t ‘kicking God out’ either.

      It’s really very simple – if there are less guns in circulation, there will be less available to the ‘wackos”. I read somewhere that this shooter used weapons that belonged to his mother. But what if she hadn’t had any firearms? Honestly, it seems to Orkney in pretty well every other western country. What is it that firearms advocates think is so unique about America that the solution that works pretty well everywhere else won’t work there? It’s a mystery to me.

      • http://tachesterton.blogspot.com Tim Chesterton

        ‘Seems to work’, I meant – not sure how ‘Orkney’ got in there! Auto-correct…

    • Kyle Lauf

      From an outsider’s perspective here in the third world: America can seem a very dangerous place with violence and intolerance lurking just beneath the surface, and where scary self-centred values cause avoidable and unneccesary harm to others. Where do these values come from? Not from Christianity, not from the bible.

      • rogereolson

        So where do you think they come from?

        • Kyle Lauf

          That’s the correct question! For an honest assessment, it is essential to ask where these values come from without assuming that guns are a sacred right, and without deifying the founding fathers or the constitution, as some Christians and ‘patriots’ are eager to do.

  • Steve Rogers

    I’m willing to consider the gun culture as a contributor to these horrifying mass killings, but only if we go further and explore our dysfunctional mental health care system, the overall glorification of violence in our culture and the role of males as you have suggested. Fixing the conversation on guns alone may make some feel better, but will accomplish little toward solving the real problem. New gun control laws will be no more effective than the existing laws some choose to not follow.

    • rogereolson

      I will go further out on the limb (or thin ice) and suggest it should be illegal to sell, buy or own certain kinds of weapons. Suppose the day came when it was possible for an individual to own a small nuclear or “dirty” bomb. Suppose further some stores were selling them. Ought that to be legal? I suspect most people would say no. But why? Because they are extremely dangerous to the public and there is no peaceful use of them. Ah. I’d say the same about some automatic weapons such as assault rifles (and maybe many more).

      • ME

        High explosive’s are already illegal for personal use. Lets be thankful the “Founding Fathers” didn’t create an amendment for the right to bear explosives.

        • rogereolson

          But my point is that “arms” is a broad category. We’ve generally acknowledged (including guns-rights advocates) that it does not (in terms of Second Amendment rights) include explosives. But the line between explosives and assault rifles seems blurry to me. When the US Constitution was written, “arms” meant swords and muskets. The writers of the Bill of Rights could not have imagined something like assault rifles. I think it’s safe to say that, if they had, they would have written a much narrow and more specific amendment.

      • Josh T.

        I agree completely. We’re not allowed to own tanks or nukes, so why the need for other modern military-level weapons? I don’t understand the justification.

        I also agree that the problem is on multiple levels, not just the gun access. As for the “but if they had no guns, they could use X” argument, I wonder if some of these shooters would bother with making and using a bomb, when it takes away the “glorious” option of going down “with guns blazing” as we are so used to seeing in the movies (and games). It seems that these killers want to directly participate in the deaths of their victims face-to-face; perhaps a bomb (or arson, or whatever) is too much like murder by proxy for these nasty people. And as mentally disturbed as these killers are, their motives seem to be different from that of political/religious terrorists, who may be more likely to blow things up to reach their desired goal, and seem to be less interested in the means used (all of this is complete speculation on my part).

        As for the U.S. gun culture issue, I thought this Sojourners article had some good and prophetic words regarding idolatry: http://sojo.net/magazine/2013/01/9mm-golden-calves

  • James Petticrew

    We had our school massacre in Dunblane and I think afterwards there was near consensus as there can be in a democracy, we banned handguns because those used had been legally held. Since then we have had no more mass shooting, we still have problems with violence but a madman with a knife can kill far fewer people than someone with a hand gun let alone an assault rifle.

    I struggle to understand America when it comes to guns but I think individualism seems to be a big factor. My American friends say things like I like shooting high powered guns so I should have the freedom to do so and the government should not restrict my freedom. I too when in our equivalent of your Civil Air Patrol enjoyed firing high powered guns but I am more than happy to give up my freedom if it means my community is a safer place. I may be wrong but it seems to me that I meet few Americans who are willing to put what we call in Scotland the “common weil” (the common good and health of a society) above their own personal freedom. What is more deeply depressing is that nearly all of those so attached to indvidualism are evangelicals and surely to be committed to the Kingdom of God means being committed to values greater than our personal freedom and pleasure

    • rogereolson

      Amen and amen!

      • Tom

        Amen. I think this ties back to the article you wrote Dr. Olson for Christianity today on freedom. Unfettered freedom descends into a “me first” generation without the common consideration of what’s good for our children and society. Everyone is concerned about their rights and not just gun rights.

  • Ryan

    “But that’s not likely to keep madmen with guns away from the children. They’ll just come up with new approaches to them. ” Why don’t you think passing more legislation won’t meet the same fate?

    • rogereolson

      So what do you suggest? Doing away with all laws restricting access to guns? Even most guns-rights advocates don’t advocate that. Clearly, some laws limiting guns are helpful. Why not more? If more wouldn’t be helpful, why keep the ones we have? They don’t seem to be working. So I don’t get the point of your comment unless it is that we should abolish all laws governing selling, buying and owning guns. While we’re at it, perhaps we should abolish laws against buying, selling or owning high explosives?

  • Norman

    Since the Gun Genie is out of the bottle and is going to be nigh next to impossible to get back in then perhaps we can come up with some creative methods of controlling the guns that are out there already.

    1. Create local armories where guns must be brought in and stored under lock and key and checked out only under a prior written request several days before the gun will be needed for hunting or target practice.
    Then the Target practice should only be allowed at controlled premises where the guns are then immediately returned to lock down.

    2. For those who request guns for home protection then there should be a limit to just 1 gun with perhaps a limit of 6 cartridges allocated for that particular gun. You can own as much ammo as you want but it must be kept at the locked armory and the only way to procure more ammo is to bring back spent shells/casings to exchange for those used for hunting or a validated police report that the ammo was used to defend a residence from intruders. Practically speaking there should be no need for guns in home defense to have more than 6 rounds to defeat or drive off invaders in 95% of cases. Yes if you are a drug dealer or have violent enemies you might want and have need for more ammo.

    3. Mandatory heavy fines and possible criminal felony charges for not adhering to these rules and including the elimination of the right to carry laws now out there.

    4. Criminals caught with guns of any kind should face extensive long term jail terms and citizens who violate these laws should face the consequences listed above and the right to ever have access to a gun again.

    5. Since much of this revolves around the NRA then let them administer all the local gun armories under frequent federal inspections. This will provide their involvement in the process and put part of the responsibility upon them to administer control of guns safely and effectively and quit blaming the government for enforcement. They should be required to administer constant gun safety training every year for owners to remain certified to own guns.

    This will be a huge cost to gun owners and they should foot the bill for it entirely since they are the ones who want to own and enjoy guns. Don‘t use tax money from any other sources except that raised by gun enthusiast whether hobbyist or hunters. This will eliminate the easy access of multiple rounds being available to the unbalanced or angry or whatever motive possesses the crazed gunman. The mother who had all these weapons may have had no clue that her deranged son would take her exotic collection and kill her and others with it. This protects the owners as well from unintended consequences. Also any gun kept for home defense should have approved and tested safety trigger locks as a requirement from accidents which kill many each year. The gun purchased for defense turns out to often bring trauma and death to the family or friends instead of its original intention to protect the family.

    Is this heavy handed? You bet it is but a system that has failed as dramatically as ours has is in need of drastic measures not minuscule band aid approaches.

    Second, we need to address the societal problem of violence in media and especially video games. I unfortunately have seen the real life enactment of video gaming violence put into play by two troubled young men who murdered an innocent friend just to see what it would feel like. I can’t begin to describe the detachment from reality that videos, movies and literature instill in the minds of the troubled young men out there. Unfortunately as a Volunteer Prison Chaplin for over 10 years I mentored and counseled young men who were serving time because of the enhanced violent nature perpetuated through fantasy. I won’t go into the details of their crimes and these complexes have been there even before this age we live in but it is being magnified and becoming more intense in the past 20 years.

    Are these suggestions cure all’s and a quick fix? Of Course not but they are starting points of conversations and enactments that need to be taking place IMHO.

    We can’t sit idly by anymore.
    Norman

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

    I wish we could take a balanced approach to this issue, it seems that the moment something like this happens, liberals who consider the debate to be toxic want silence on the issue and conservatives scream about the second Ammendment. There has been very little balanced discussion.

    As you brought up Roger, I fail to see why anyone needs assault weapons. My grandfather was an avid hunter. He had a pistol for short range (used on a couple rattlesnakes that I clearly remember) and a rifle or two for deer. He saw no point in owning an arsenal to shoot a few rabbits and deer for game meat. Neither were assault style, he said that would ruin the meat. I saw him use it for self defense once (he shot a rattlesnake off his cabin porch) but beyond that, Texas camping/hunting trips the guns weren’t used.

    Why not reinstate the assault weapons ban? What purpose other than the ‘charge’ you spoke of do those weapons hold? I get sick of the argument “guns don’t kill people” well cars don’t kill people either, it doesn’t mean we let people drive drunk. We could as easily change it to “cars don’t kill people, drunks kill people.” Of course the guns don’t get up and do it by themselves, but neither do the cars drive themselves into other people all by themselves! Why can’t we have reasonable discussions?

    As for the extra security – we had exactly that in the Philippines. Do we want the US to resemble developing nation security? Is that our goal in order to protect our guns? What is the point of coming to America then? Might as well immigrate elsewhere. We have no jobs and the country isn’t safe by any stretch of the imagination in comparison to other developed countries. Is this what we want to protect our hobbies???

  • K Gray

    In this case, the shooter’s mother owned the guns, and the primary murder weapon was a rifle. Were they locked up? – no one’s reported that yet. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Connecticut’s gun control laws the 5th strictest in the U.S. last year. So it’s unclear what further gun control would have made a difference in Sandy Hook. The gun control conversation can be had on any day, prompted by Chicago’s daily homicide count (but they have pretty strict gun control too). I’d like to see some evidence, studies or proof one way or the other.

    • rogereolson

      What do you make of the testimonies here of folks from the UK and Canada (they could be from other countries as well) about the evident correlation between gun control (or lack of it) and gun-related violence against persons (or lack of it)?

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

        Living in those “other countries” is what changed the mind of this Texas native. The evidence (and relief) of not having to think about it as much compelling. It makes me want to stay overseas.

      • K Gray

        I don’t know. Statistics would help, and cultural as well as constitutional differences between countires must be considered; does Canada have an enumerated constitutional right akin to the Second Amendment? The question we face is, will new gun controls at the state or U.S. federal level reduce the risk of crime? A UK parallel: this morning the BBC reports a study out of King’s College showing handgun crime up 40% in the two years since a handgun ban was enacted following a primary school tragedy similar to Sandy Hook. As the number of legally-owned guns fell, the gun-smuggling business and handgun crime rate rose. (Even studies are hard to trust; most are commissioned by groups with strong outcome preferences). That seems counterintuitive – that a well-intended gun control had no good effect and possibly a bad one — but we sure need to look at all sides of this issue with actual examples and results. Chicago and Washington D.C. have strict gun control laws and high homicide rates. Let’s enact only laws that have a solid chance of a good result here. These suffering families and communities deserve it. I don’t know what those laws – if any- might be; most of us don’t. At least not yet.

        Anyway, prayer is the best weapon.

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

          Australia might be a good comparison -http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/12/what-us-can-learn-australia-about-gun-control check their rate, deaths by firearm last year if you are interested. There are a lot of similarities – it’s a freedom-loving independent country with a healthy hunting culture in the outback.

          While Japan is more significant, they don’t have the same hunting culture, Australia, with the dangers of the outback is more comparable, and has a similar bordering nation issues.

      • Quartermaster

        Canada tried gun control, up to gun registration, and it failed. The registry was a joke (you can see the same joke here when it comes to class 3 weapons. ATF has made such a mess it’s utterly unreliable). The UK banned handguns, and crime has skyrocketed. Australia has seen the same thing. Gun control simply disarms the good people. Criminals could not care less.

  • david carlson

    They are all boys with severe mental health issues that should of been removed from the public. That issue is the one most will not touch

    • rogereolson

      I agree. We need to find ways to identify people with violent tendencies (manifested, for example, by terroristic threats) and get them into treatment. The reason this is not happening is that only terroristic threats against specific persons are illegal. Terroristic threats against groups (e.g., “teachers”) are not illegal. We need to find a way for families and friends and acquaintances of people who harbor such wishes (obviously they would have had to express them in some way that shows intent) to be taken in for treatment. I suspect that, in most cases, some family, friends or acquaintances DO detect such terroristic tendencies in these young shooters but do nothing except hope the worst doesn’t happen. I know from personal experience that complaining to the police doesn’t help. (I once showed a letter from an acquaintance threatening violence to a police officer who brushed it off. The acquaintance then went on to commit violence which didn’t surprise me at all. Fortunately, though, nobody died.)

  • John I.

    I have fired police weapons (handguns and shotguns), and have hunted with rifles, but do not and would not have a handgun in my house. Partly this is because–having fired handguns–I can see why they would typically be useless for self-defense. Even friends of mine who are police do not have guns in their house.

    That being said, the foo-for-uh about gun sales and gun control in the US is a bit overblown given that the percentage of US homes having guns has dropped very significantly since 1981, when almost half (48.9%) of households had guns. Now less than a third do (32.3%). Furthermore, CT is one of the states with stricter gun control laws and all of the guns were registered to Lanza’s mother. In addition, the guns he used can be legally purchased in Canada (which got rid of its long-gun registry because it was an expensive and ineffective boondoggle).

    Yes, ’tis true that (statistically speaking) if there were a lot fewer guns overall there would be a lot few deaths from guns–which is the experience of countries like Canada, the U.K., France, etc. But to reduce the total number of guns overall in America is not just an issue of law, but one of culture. Moreover, illegality of guns has not stopped criminals from getting their hands on them, or using them.

  • http://tachesterton.wordpress.com Tim Chesterton

    Here’s a rather bizarre article about the recent history of the firearms debate in Newtown, CONN:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/nyregion/in-newtown-conn-a-stiff-resistance-to-gun-restrictions.html?_r=0

    For me, the money quote is ‘guns are why we’re free’. It’s hard to imagine anything more antithetical to the teaching of Jesus, and yet the person who said that was probably a good churchgoer. As you say, Roger, it’s bizarre that the most religious parts of the US are the parts most in love with their guns. What sort of Messiah do they think they are following? The one who told people to turn the other cheek, love their enemies and pray for those who hate them? I think their Jesus looks more like Judas Maccabeus than the man of Nazareth!

    • Dean

      For the life of me, this is what I don’t understand about a subset of American Evangelicals today. I have no idea how anyone can reconcile gun culture with Christianity, but there is definitely an intersection there for a large swath of very religious people in this country. It’s also tied to America’s obsession with foreign wars, I think it all stems from the same dynamic. And you know, I hate having to bring it back to this, but I think it fundamentally stems from our confusion about who God is and what he is like. It’s a confusion that has been sowed by many leaders of the Church today, and it’s this idea that the God of the Bible is ultimately more concerned with “justice” than with love, with vengeance than with mercy. If your concept of justice in the afterlife is eternal conscious torment for most and eternal bliss for a few, then it makes perfect sense that justice in this life must look something like that. We need to kill God’s enemies in this life so that he will be pleased with us in the next, and it just so happens that God’s enemies are always people WE don’t happen to like or people who are different from us. And it also just so happens that God’s enemies are most of the human race, so you better protect yourself. It absolutely is antithetical to everything Jesus taught. The God of the Bible as reveled to us by the person of Jesus Christ didn’t resist violence, he laid down his life in the face of it, with the confidence that violence and death ultimately had no power of him. Theoretically speaking, why isn’t that the proper Christian response to violence in general? In every single situation?

      I’m not a pacifist, I just don’t have the spine for it. But sometimes I feel like that is the only Biblical supportable Christian response to violence in this world. Every other argument I have ever heard rings hollow to me in light of what happened on the Cross.

  • Tim Reisdorf

    Hi Roger,
    A few posts ago, you talked about the society that you thought might work out better than the societies are working out now – and you mentioned that you’d keep keep the Bill of Rights, though add to them. It is that 2nd right that is supposed to legitimize the arming the citizenry against the abuse of government. (It’s not about hunting, though would cover that.) Is that archaic and outmoded? Should we also jettison the right against unlawful search and seizure? Due process? Do we trust our government that much? do you?
    As I understand it, the gun(s) were stolen, and no laws short of outright mass confiscation would have stopped this. And there were no guns allowed at school, so the killer knew he had a monopoly on firepower for a long while.
    Having said that, I don’t have a solution other than to spread the love of God to those we meet, sponsor others to do the same, and pray that God will change the hearts of the would-be murderers. I don’t see how we can respect the freedoms of all the good people by punishing everyone.
    I’ve heard it said that those who beat their swords into plows live under the protections of those who do not. I currently have neither, but hope to have both soon.
    -Tim

    • rogereolson

      I don’t believe the second amendment was intended to protect anyone’s right to own assault rifles. I posted a lengthy response to another commenter yesterday about this. What does “arms” mean? Bombs? No, everyone agrees not. Why then assault rifles?

      • Ray Wilkins

        I think the question is, what did “arms” mean in an 18th century context? The answer, I believe, would be a firearm. So of course this would discount bombs and such, but not firearms. An assault rifle is a firearm. Automatic rifles were not banned until the 1930′s and the ban, still in effect today, has not prevented gang members and determined criminals from getting their hands on them.

        The Virginia Tech and Columbine killers didn’t use assault rifles. Neither did Charles Whitman when he killed 13 and wounded 32 at UT. I think the continued talk of gun control is simply a diversion because the secular community is ill equipped to deal with the problem of human evil.

        • rogereolson

          I’m sure it also meant swords, right? And the firearms would have been muskets. Surely you can see a difference of kind, not just degree, between those and assault rifles. By your logic, it seems to me, we should also legalize bombs. But we don’t because we know intuitively how great the damage they cause can be. We know it about assault rifles (and similar weapons) now as well.

          • Ray

            Until the 1930′s was there ever a discussion on limiting the kinds of guns a civilian could own? No? I think that would be because the precedent of firearm ownership by individuals was established. Legalizing bombs is altogether different. They do not serve the purpose of personal protection. Most people, while not owning a bomb, own the necessary materials to make a bomb. Should we outlaw them?
            Wade Burleson had an excellent post on the 2nd Amendment and Natural Law. Reading beyond the Constitution, looking at Jefferson and others, you can see that they were fearful of government limiting any firearm possession. Having lived and fought in Panama, seeing what Noriega did to his unarmed citizens, it gives me a greater appreciation of Jefferson’s skepticism. While I believe you to be a good man, I don’t want to give you the right to define what I need or don’t need.

      • Steve

        Roger,

        How do you define an assault rifle?

        Don’t you think the framers of the constitution were referring to the modern wartime arms of their day?

        • rogereolson

          I doubt that they intended that individuals should have a constitutional right to own cannons. Do you? I think meant swords and muskets and they probably were referring to state militias, not individuals.

          • Quartermaster

            But they could have owned cannon. There was no such prohibition. There are problems associated with such ownership, even today, but I’ll deal with that in a post further down.

          • rogereolson

            That wasn’t my question. I still doubt the founding fathers, authors of the Bill of Rights, intended citizens to be free to purchase and own any kind of weapon imaginable.

      • Tim Reisdorf

        Roger,
        You are correct in that there is no explicit right to own assault rifles. In the same way, there is no explicit right to breathe. The 2nd amendment is not about giving rights to individuals, it is about curtailing the government’s ability to limit what people own and do with regard to keeping and bearing Arms. Is it any wonder that those supporting more government influence and power in people’s lives would try to undo standards that limit the government’s influence and power in people’s lives? What is next and where does it ever end?

        • rogereolson

          Where do you think? Should individuals have legal right to buy and own, say dirty bombs? I recently read a very realistic novel about some teenagers who found a dirty bomb (or what could function as one) in an abandoned Soviet installation in Eastern Europe and sold it in a Scandinavian country to a would be terrorist. If you agree (as I hope) that the government should regulate ownership of things like dirty bombs, work backwards and explain where to draw the line.

          • Tim Reisdorf

            You avoid my point. Do you start with the assumption that people are free and that the government ought to be constrained to limit only certain things (enumerated powers) or that government gives rights and withholds them when the government sees fit to do so?
            Why do dirty bombs or such things come into the conversation, except to derail this into a most extreme tangent? This started with a commentary on a young man who stole a firearm (or more) and killed many people. Theft is already outlawed, should we double-punish him? He killed many people – he deserved the death that he gave himself. Would you also punish others who have harmed none by taking away their possessions? Punish the guilty, not the innocent.

          • rogereolson

            I don’t see restricting access to certain dangerous substances and objects as punishing anyone. All governments do it. We take it for granted. The only issue is whether certain kinds of weapons are so dangerous that they, too, ought to be restricted.

  • Susan Burns

    It is time for fundamentalist Christians to STOP scaring our children. The world will not end soon. There will not be tribulation until Jesus raptures the chosen few. Some children cannot overcome the anxiety this fear produces. They grow up and think they need to hoard weapons for the coming apocalypse. The more anxiety they feel the more weapons they hoard. It will take a generation to alleviate the anxiety caused by this neurosis even if you stop it today. STOP SCARING OUR KIDS!!!!!

    • rogereolson

      Of course, if fundamentalists are teaching their eschatology correctly, people would realize there’s no point in stockpiling weapons against the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation persecutions. The whole idea of collecting weapons to fight during the Great Tribulation is absurd. For one thing, it demonstrates a mind that believes it (the person) will not be taken in the rapture and is therefore not really a Christian! If I met a person who was stockpiling weapons because he or she is a dispensationalist who believes in the pre-trib rapture, I would express deep confusion about his or her understanding of dispensational eschatology.

    • Tim Reisdorf

      Susan,
      It is not only the fundamentalists that are scaring our kids, we have economists that are scaring everyone. We borrow 40+ cents of every dollar that the government spends and we refuse to reign in spending. It is not the apocalypse that is worrisome, it is the fear that the past and present generations have and will continue to spend the inheritance and livelihoods of their children. Who will pay those bills? What will become of the country when 100 cents of every dollar collected in taxes goes to service the debt? There is indeed a bottom coming, but it is not the bottom of the Fiscal Cliff – it is the bottom of a decades’ long slope of debt. We ignore it at our peril.

  • Kim Hampton

    You ask, “Are we becoming jaded by the frequency of the horror?”

    As of last night, 118 children have died in Chicago through gun violence. For the most part, American society has turned a blind eye to the deaths of those children. There is no national mourning for them.

    I don’t know if that answers your question, but it does say something.

  • Pingback: We’re Only Chasing Safety: Sandy Hook Elementary «

  • K Gray

    It’s interesting that so far the church and Christians have not been mentioned (except negatively), and the Lord not at all; it’s all what the government should or shouldn’t do. Seems to me that’s part of our overall cultural problem. It’s not that we can’t have the civic discussion of gun control, but just that as Christians we kind of forget who we are sometimes.

  • Brian Roden

    I had lunch Sunday with a missionary to a country in west Africa that has an ongoing civil war. As sad and tragic as last Friday’s killings in Connecticut are, 28 people senselessly killed (as well as atrocities against women by rebel soldiers) is a daily occurrence where he ministers. But no one talks about that much because “that’s just the way those countries are.”

    • rogereolson

      I think, given our news media’s almost sole focus on America (and countries where we have a strong military presence) and obsession with human interest stories and celebrities, most American’s know almost nothing about what is happening in Africa or anywhere else in the world.


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