[Just a reminder to all: I make an effort to approve all comments regardless of the writer’s perspective. But when it comes to contentious issues like this (where passions are strong), I recommend reviewing my comments policy before writing your response.]
I agree with the basic premise of author Mark Lockhard’s recent post on the Sojourners website entitled “Making Guns our God”: Claiming that the best response to “the other’s” (real or imagined) possibility for violence is to have an equal or greater capacity for violence of your own is not in line with any flavor of Christian thought (thoughtless Christianity exempted). It is also futile and never ends well, as both history and recent news headlines have repeatedly shown.
But, I tend to be a bit more of a pragmatist, I think. We will not and cannot eliminate guns from society, and while I will never own a gun myself, I realize that we as a society have to make room for those who like having and using guns for sport and personal enjoyment; as well as for those who hunt.
The gun debate is about where to draw the line when it comes to owning tools of violence. We don’t allow people to own all the atomic bombs, fighter jets, tanks, or grenade launchers they want to have – i.e., our laws already make it clear that people cannot arm themselves with whatever weapons they want. So, the claim that gun ownership must have no limits [whether based on a questionable reading of the 2nd amendment or not] is unreasonable, just as a complete ban on all gun ownership is equally unreasonable. The line is somewhere in between.
The discussion on gun control needs to be on where to draw that line – on what is in the best interests of society as a whole. Claiming that having an unlimited right to the ownership and usage of guns is a matter of “personal rights guaranteed by the constitution” is a profound misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of a document that was intended from the start “to create a more perfect union” by delineating the boundaries between the responsibilities and rights of the State vs. those of the individual.
The Constitution and our entire framework of laws and legislation are based on the premise that individual rights (such as gun ownership) only make sense, and can only exist, within the context of a healthy society and political system: they cannot be allowed to trump the best interests of that society.
What troubles me most about the NRA’s stance, in particular, is a refusal to acknowledge that anything but unlimited gun ownership is a valid or reasonable solution. To support such a stance implies a belief that the only life that has value is our own (and perhaps the lives of those we love). As I said above, this belief, and the belief that being capable of more violence than our neighbor is the best solution has no support in our legal system, no place in Christian thought, and has never worked well in terms of real world experience, either.
So, let’s stop spouting meaningless slogans or painting those on the other side of the table as arrogant cranks and get real: what is best for our society, and (more importantly) why?
Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)