Today we heard another all too familiar headline. Students massacred as a lone gunman (aged 20) rampages. This is a horrible tragedy and we should mourn and pray for the victims and seek justice in appropriate ways. While we regularly hear such tragedies out of the United States, they are not limited to the USA. Last year Norway had a similar massacre, in Australia we suffered a mass shooting at Port Arthur in 1996, and in approximately 1,000BC, David and his men had his young children taken from him a brazen and unforeseen attack. The locations and methods may vary, but the evilness within the human heart ensures that this is not the first and it will not be the last such tragedy.
After a period of grief, we then rightly ask ourselves and our government, ‘How do we prevent such tragedies happening again?. Twitter is already having such a conversation, and in a few days, the national media, politicians and all of us will be having the same conversation.
Arguments for more gun control:
- Just did some quick research, in 2011, guns were used to murder 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.
- The right to bear arms in the US Constitution was written when the technological extent of firearms was a musket. Today automatic and semi-automatic weapons are available. This was not the intent of the 2nd amendment.
- While gun control may not prevent all massacres, it will likely limit the potential scale and devastation of such murder sprees.
Arguments against more gun control
- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. – Also today 22 school students in China were attacked with a knife.
- Gun control will only take guns away from the people who abide by laws. The criminals will keep their guns and we will be less safe with less avenues for defence
- Once the government takes away the people’s right to bear arms, then the people are at the mercy of the government. History shows that governments have committed far more and worse massacres than people. (e.g. look at Syria today).
My personal position is that I see truth in all the above arguments. I believe a proper response is a measured approach and not all everyone will be happy. In fact, unfortunately, politics will be played by both sides on this issue. It always is. Nevertheless, a caring and compassionate society, does restrict access to harmful social substances. We limit access to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, so it follows that we should also limit access to firearms. The question is generally a matter of the degree of that limitation.
The Elephant in the Room
While the Bible is silent on gun ownership and gun control (for obvious reasons, guns had not been invented 2,000 years ago), there are plenty of areas around this tragedy that it is not silent on. The one area which I believe should be debated, but will likely be largely ignored, is the graphic substances that we are feeding our souls.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth [and actions] speaks – Luke 6:45
The rise in violent video games that simulate these very activities is alarming. Furthermore, we are raising a generation on prescribed yet untested substances such as Ritalin. Not to mention the fact that we have taken God out of schools and public discourse. It seems that the only higher powers we look to for comfort are politicians, celebrities and fantasy. I am not saying that Grand Theft Auto, ADD, or a lack of faith directly caused this massacre, but I am saying that as a society we are not finding our hope, security, and contentment in God. We are not living well and consequently, we are not raising the next generation well.
For me, I would love to see more discussion around our society’s diet. I believe a proper solution to preventing more tragedies requires a 3 fold approach
1. Stop putting so much garbage ‘in’, and then we will see less garbage ‘out’. That may involve some forms of censorship – something that is not popular today.
2. Replace our diet of graphic violence, sex and drugs with a diet of longing after God for our identity, security and fulfilment.
3. And, acknowledging that society will be evil until Jesus returns, implement pragmatic restrictions on guns so that the scale of harm can be limited.
Right at the moment, we are still grieving. It is appropriate that we comfort and support those who are suffering. The solution debate is now starting and will be in full swing soon. However, if there are any positives and complete solutions to come out of this, it is that it must make us long and thirst all the more for Jesus and heaven. Jesus is the only true solution and ultimate peace will come once the Prince of Peace returns.