[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

6.06.2004

one christian's stance on gun control

well, i've been away for a couple of days, so i figure it's about time for me to step in it again. last week, i forwarded an email around that purportedly originated with tom mauser whose 15-year old son, daniel, was one of the 13 kids killed @ columbine high school five years ago. i sent it to everyone in my address book, knowing full well that i'd get a broad range of responses. some people "signed" the petition by passing it on; others didn't. one of my closest friends wrote back w/ an extremely well-reasoned retort, part of which read:
It seems to be that what the country needs is not more legislation, but more responsibility. Responsibility by people like teachers who know young men capable of such violence, responsibility by friends, and most assuredly, responsibility by parents who need to pull their heads out of their asses, get off the couch, turn off the tv, and actually invest in their kids lives.
touche'. i agree wholeheartedly, and not just b/c my friend is widely known to be smarter than me. the main problem isn't gun proliferation, it's sin, and no amount of gun control is going to usher in the kingdom of god. but i'm afraid i still come down squarely on the side of assault weapons control, maybe for reasons even i don't fully understand. but this is a place for me to air out what i think, sometimes only to look back and think "what the . . . ??, sometimes to look back and be confirmed in my own mind about what i originally thought. so, air out, i shall.

if you look on the web -- just type in "christians and guns" -- it is readily apparent that i am in a distinct minority on this issue. carlo stagnaro wrote a piece for lewrockwell.com, about which i know absolutely nothing, in which he quotes jesus, the ot, larry pratt, j. r. r. tolkien (that one surprised me a bit), all in condemnation of gun control. his conclusion: one may believe banning guns is a good thing, and campaign for gun control; nobody has the right to do it in the name of god. in another piece on frontpagemag.com (again, i didn't even visit the site, so i have no idea of its politics), univ. of oklahoma professor david yeagley asserts that early american christians viewed the firearm as an essential element of christian deportment, and demicide (whatever that is -- i looked it up in all 4 dictionaries i have in the house and found nothing) is always preceded by public disarmament. ask the bolsheviks, the nazis, or the khmer rouge (i knew who they were).

now, i concede that i didn't find a lot of sites popping up from evangelical christian organizations joining together to ban bazookas. just the opposite, as recounted above. stagnaro even quoted such a heavy hitter as thomas aquinas, who apparently wrote: without doubt one is allowed to resist against the unjust aggressor to one’s life, one’s goods or one’s physical integrity; sometimes, even 'til the aggressor’s death . . . . in fact, this act is aimed at preserving one’s life or one’s goods and to make the aggressor powerless. thus, it is a good act, which is the right of the victim.

so what can i say to that?

i'll be brief. firstly, i'll concede (again) that this is a divisive issue, probably to be left to the dictates of conscience. if someone attacked ellie grace, i'd throw pots and pans and the cat, sans claws mind you, @ him (i don't have a gun, but i'd probably be brandishing it about if i did). so i'm not standing on the firmest of footings here. but -- who says we can't urge responsibility and ban assault rifles, weapons for which i can conceive of no good reason for their existence in any american home. in fact, who says that it's not our responsibility to say "nope . . . you can't have that, i'm afraid; you'll put your eye out" (or much, much worse)? in my faith (such as it is) i strive for @ least a modicum of consistency, for some internal thread to hold it together. thus, i am (here goes) opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. {i told you i was about to step in it.} i'm also opposed to the death penalty, ot law aside. if we can't mete out capital punishment fairly, and more importantly if we don't do it weeping over the untold effects it may have on our society (insert pope john paul's "culture of death" argument here if you wish), then we shouldn't have that little toy either. i've already said i'm starting to question whether the term "just war" is an oxymoron (apologies to my ethics teacher @ seminary, who was a just war advocate and quite decidedly not a moron). many of the authors whose websites i surfed cited genocides, many of them targeted @ christians, in support of their positions. nevertheless, i am not persuaded. if, heaven forbid, i were to have to die for my faith, then i trust that god would somehow achieve more through my death than he would have had i shot my way out of danger and lived to preach another day. no proof texts in my hands here; just an intense intuition that the way of the christian is not to be the way of the gun.

you know, i'm so glad that i don't set public policy. i am far too finite a man to plumb the depths of life and death issues such as these and then legislate wisely. but i'm not called to do that. i am not trying to convince any of you (my 3 or so committed readers, for whose patronage i am eternally grateful). and i write these words knowing full well that, as the little god of my blog here, i can go back and edit them whenever i please. but to say that the guns used by the guys who shot up columbine were already illegal misses the issue. does anyone think if those guns had been legal the atrocity wouldn't have occurred? here i should probably point out that i also found some stats online that seem to say that gun laws may actually increase crime levels, not make us safer. but i'm not talking about safety, really. sin still abounds, and if someone wants a gun, they'll likely get it in spite of all the laws in the world. but i think it's an important issue, one which most christians should probably ponder even though it's not likely for us here in the west to ever have to choose martyrdom or gunplay. any erstwhile rhetorician can make the case that governments shouldn't have the power to ban weapons (i'm not advocating banning all weapons, either, but that's beside the point, too). all i'm saying is: guns take lives, and i have a suspicion that @ least some christians are too concerned w/ keeping jackbooted government thugs out of our gunracks to get out there and cultivate, encourage, pray for, shout from the rooftops for life. that's just one christian's position, but it's one i can live w/. and, i think, it's one i could die w/, too.

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