Like so many other Americans, I can’t wait for Christmas. I can’t wait to see children open gifts and to worship Jesus to whom the magi of old brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Still, like for so many Americans this Christmas, my thoughts and prayers will wander on Christmas day to Newtown, Connecticut, where some children who would be opening presents won’t be.
As I drove home last night, my thoughts wandered until I turned on NPR. I listened intently to an interview on the assault rifle used in Newtown—the semiautomatic AR-15. According to NPR’s Melissa Block, the AR-15 “is essentially a civilian version of the military’s M-16. And it is, according to the NRA, the country’s best-selling firearm.” Ms. Block interviewed Malcolm Brady, a retired assistant director with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. I was as surprised as Ms. Block was when Mr. Brady said that he expected consumer demand for the gun to jump dramatically: “…it may be for protection. It may be for the coolness. And it may be for the fact that people will be in fear that the weapon will be put back on a banned level, and they want to obtain it before it is banned again. But I think you will see the popularity of it and the purchase of them increase drastically, in between now and the holidays, near Christmas.”
One does not need such a gun for hunting. A simple rifle will do. I sure hope people in my neighborhood aren’t buying this gun for Christmas. I would hate to see anyone lost to friendly fire or caught in the crossfire between modern day Hatfields and McCoys. While some might think the gun has a Rambo effect (as stated in the interview), Rambo didn’t go around killing innocent civilians; I would hope people will reconsider what associations are made with this gun in view of its use in gunning down movie goers in Aurora, Colorado, shoppers in Clackamas, Oregon, and kindergarteners in Newtown, Connecticut. Besides, this gun was once banned. That should at least cause us to ponder the questions: why was it banned and why then was the ban lifted?
People can talk all they want about how it is not the gun, but the person using the gun. I get that point. In fact, that is the point. Make sure those people don’t get these guns. How many innocent and even helpless people need to die before we come to realize that such violence will not likely lessen but will increase the more such firearms as this are available for sale and purchased? Where are the wise men today? If only people would exchange their M16 equivalents for myrrh. Jesus didn’t come to play Rambo. As king to whom homage was paid with gold and incense, homage was also paid with myrrh, which was used for embalming. Quite possibly, the wise men’s gift of myrrh foreshadowed Jesus’ burial: Jesus did not engage in violence as he atoned for the sins of a violent world in which he lived and in which we still live today.
Wouldn’t it be an amazing Christmas gift, if wise men today were to come and lay down their M16 equivalents at Jesus’ feet to worship him? (Matthew 2:2, 11)