My friend Bruce Reyes-Chow has proclaimed that he will never own a gun, and he’s encouraged all fellow Christians to sign a petition against gun violence. I won’t sign it, because I don’t sign petitions. Well, I do sign silly petitions. I don’t sign real petitions, because they’re silly. They don’t do anything. And Christian leaders are real fond of them.
But that aside, I own a gun now, and I plan to own one until I’m too old to take to the field and hunt.
Bruce makes a half-hearted exception for “those who have grown up in a culture of hunting.” But that does not include me. I did not grow up in a hunting family. My love of hunting is my own, and I do love hunting. I started hunting in my 20′s, and I took it upon myself to apprentice under a friend from church who is an experienced hunter. He taught me several lessons that stay with me to this day.
- My gun has a trigger lock.
- My gun is stored in a locked safe.
- My shells are kept in a different place from my gun.
- My children do not know where the shells or either of the keys are.
Also, when I’m hunting, I am absolutely militant about hunting safely — minding my muzzle, unloading before approaching a road or coming back to the truck to take a break — and I will only hunt with others who practice gun safety.
But, of course, this isn’t what Bruce is writing about. He’s writing about gun violence in our society. And in that I agree with him, even as I sit in a Sri Lankan hotel and watch BBC coverage of yet another shooting in America, this time at a shopping mall in New Jersey.
Bruce is writing about people who use guns, not to hunt, but for self-defense. He writes,
I believe is that at some point, people of faith must stand side-by-side speaking together to let the world and one another know that there is a different way to live and respond to that which may threaten us . . . and it is one that does not involve guns…
I do not own a gun for self defense. I own a shotgun, specifically designed for hunting. It’s not available to me for self-defense. If my house was broken into, or I was threatened, I can’t get to my gun in a timely fashion.
Also, as a gun owner, I see no justification for the manufacture and sale of assault weapons. There is no legitimate purpose for such a weapon.
Handguns fall in a strange gray area in between. They are not used for hunting, and they are protected by the Second Amendment. But, again, I see no legitimate use for one, and therefore I will not own one.
So, in the final analysis, I agree with Bruce. As Christians, we should stand up against gun violence. I’m just not so sure that means never owning a gun.