“Guns Don’t Kill People”

OK, so what if we accepted that “guns don’t kill people, people do”? Just for the record, I don’t happen to accept that premise, since guns kill people a whole lot more efficiently than, say, knives or fists, but never mind. Let’s just take it as a starting place.

Isn’t it just possible that our culture of guns encourages people to kill people? Mightn’t the fact that it is legal in many states to carry concealed weapons to the grocery store or to church create an expectation that we NEED guns wherever we go? Might it be possible that memes like the picture going around Facebook of a gun holstered under a steering wheel as an anti-carjacking device teach us that the solution to being hurt or scared or offended or threatened is respond with lethal force?

Perhaps people do feel more secure carrying guns about, but it is a security based on the assumption that the solution to fear of violence is to escalate the violence. Maybe the guns themselves aren’t the root of the problem. Maybe the guns are the effect of an assumption that the way to feel safe is to become more dangerous ourselves. Maybe the ever more rampant violence is bred by a culture that says that if you have been offended, if you are hurting, then the solution is to make those who offended you pay.

What if we didn’t have the guns to back us up in that belief? What if we all had to admit that there are situations in which we are powerless or terrified or ill-treated, and there is, ultimately, nothing we can do about it? What if we had to accept that life is dangerous in more ways than we can count, and that pain and, ultimately, death is inevitable? Might we then come to a little more compassion for our fellow human beings who all share this lot in life? Might we learn to address our pain in ways that are more constructive—or at least less damaging to those around us? Might we try to find solutions to some of the systemic problems that drive people toward desperation? Might we, just as a “for instance,” learn to teach our young men that striking back is not an available option, let alone one that our culture admires?

Isn’t it time that churches started taking seriously Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek, and consider what that might mean for our society? God knows it’s time for some leadership to come from somewhere.

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