Friends whose opinions I respect have convinced me that people having the right to own a gun is a good thing. That the 2nd Amendment should be protected. That many people own guns for unarguably good reasons. That farmers consider it a mere tool among many necessary to engage in their life’s work.
Sunday, I included in my sermon that I was so outraged by the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School that even I was starting to think we needed to just post snipers on top of our schools to keep watch over our children and eliminate the evil before it even got its foot in the door.
I said it in jest.
I do NOT think that is the answer. I do NOT think continually upping the quantity and firepower of our arsenals is going to lead to a more civilized, less violent society. And I sure don’t think that’s what Jesus would do.
I am completely stumped as to why we allow ordinary civilians to purchase and own entire arsenals of assault weapons with limited background checks and what appears to be no ongoing surveillance as to what they are doing with their collection. To me it is akin to selling boxes of Agent Orange to anyone who wants it simply because they are collectors of orange things.
When I say that we need to consider Gun Control as one part of the discussion directed at ending these mass shootings we now see in the United States nearly every single week, I am speaking of things like: ban the sale of assault rifles to civilians, do a more thorough background check before selling firearms, increase the amount of necessary paperwork that a buyer must complete before selling certain types or quantities of guns to an individual. Ask for references of a person’s character and check the references.
We require things like this for people to get a job! We require them before we admit students to college. A pastor in the ELCA fills out 30 pages of paperwork simply to be considered for a call to lead a different church…and then the process takes a solid 3 months minimum. Why wouldn’t we expect a person to demonstrate certain competencies before selling them a product whose sole purpose is to destroy life?
I have listened carefully to those who scoff at the mere mention of Gun Control. I have tried to understand their point of view and I have met them part way in agreeing that we ought to protect the 2nd Amendment and that there are good reasons for some individuals to own guns. Now I am waiting to hear them meet me half way. When I say that we need to look at dimensions of Gun Control, and they reply with a cliché such as, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I am, quite frankly, insulted. I am also frustrated because clearly who owns what guns is ONE PIECE of the puzzle we are trying to put together to prevent future massacres of our children.
This critical conversation does not have room or time for clichés that do nothing more than dig one in deeper to their own point of view. Banning guns across the board is clearly NOT the answer. Neither is continuing to make them available in the way we are doing today.
The conversation we need to have will require humility on the part of every single participant. Of this I am certain.
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