For or Against?

14724498_10157594211435113_4623695507832864461_nI like this meme by John Pavlovitz: It gets to the heart of something that always troubles me when I’m labelled as an ally of one group or another…

It is true that we are called by our faith to make a special effort to support those who are not empowered, no matter who they are. And, this is a central concept within my own ministry and in my day to day existence.

But the problem has always been that people tend to view someone who is “for” some group or cause as being against something else. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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Making Guns our God

The discussion on gun control needs to be on where to draw the line – on what is in the best interests of society as a whole. Claiming that it 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.

IOF-32-REV-1[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.

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The Facts of Gun Ownership

This recent Facebook Meme makes it clear that unrestricted gun ownership has severe consequences. Let’s take a look at each of the countries mentioned in that poster, and compare their gun laws to what we have here in the US. What can we learn from such a comparison?

72316_10151146554085872_516093712_nThe poster shown here must be a bit old (there is no country named “West Germany” any more), but the relative ratios of handgun deaths in the US to levels in these other countries has not improved with time.

In reviewing the gun laws of each of  the countries in this list, wikipedia provides the following information

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