So, I’ve taken on politics several times.
I’ve done drinking and just last week touched on the transgender issue and restrooms.
Hmmm….. what can I write about next?
How about guns? 🙂
In all seriousness, however, my thoughts were spurred by this recent terrible incident in my local area.
A little over a week ago on a Sunday morning in a suburban evangelical church as people were gathering for the start of the service, there was a disturbance regarding seating. Apparently a man became upset when told he was sitting in a seat reserved for somebody else. Another man observing the disturbance reportedly decided to take the situation into his own hands and approached the upset man and indicated that he had a gun. The upset man punched the man with the gun who in turn shot and killed the upset man.
This is a preposterous tragedy no matter how one looks at it. I have not seen details as to whether or not the gun was legally owned or carried (although reports seem to indicate that it was all legal) or if the shooter and victim had a bad history with each other or if the shooter had a criminal and/or mental health history. In the end, it was a senseless act of deadly violence that has left families and a community grieving. In a church, no less.
The gun issue is undeniably divisive in our country. Every time there is a shooting that garners national attention, the polar opposite sides of the argument rage at each other. Attacks and insults and accusations of heinous motives are thrown from one side to the other. Those who are pro-gun are labeled as hateful, violent, immoral, morons. Those who favor stricter gun control are labeled as delusional, elitist, autocratic fools. And these are the nice terms. The pejoratives have no end.
What people often fail to acknowledge when they get caught up in this argument, whether intentional or not, is that the other side is usually trying to accomplish a pretty similar end.
Now, the means are quite different, but most times the main goal of both sides is to reduce the occurrences of violent and deadly tragedies.
But no, we can’t admit this while attacking the other side for their foolishness. We cannot admit whenever they have a legitimate point. We must just keep blasting away at their real or perceived weaknesses.
No, we must never acknowledge that many of these mass shootings have occurred in gun free zones and potentially could have been stopped or reduced in size (or some maybe never would have even happened in the first place) if people would had been allowed to carry or armed security had been in place. And no, we must never acknowledge that many of the foolish shootings like this one in the church may very well never happen in the first place if we had stricter gun controls and more gun free zones and far fewer people carrying around guns. No, we must win this argument and so we can never cede any ground to the other side.
I don’t know how many times I have seen articles posted on social media with completely misleading, if not libelous headlines. I rarely take the time to actually read the articles as the headlines are telling enough. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen articles where President Obama any day now is going to declare all guns illegal and the government is going to come and confiscate all our guns. Conversely, there are articles that seemingly portray all would be right with the world if we just got rid of guns and locked up all those gun enthusiasts.
What is most discouraging is when I see Christians displaying the same behavior on the issue. When winning the argument trumps any tactic we take to win the argument. When the right to own guns with little to no governmental oversight is treated like it is some kind of God-given directive. When uninhibited gun ownership slides in just behind Jesus on the importance scale. When the need to condescend to pro-gun advocates ranks right up there with the need to condescend to child molesters or serial rapists.
Now certainly there are many people who handle this issue maturely. Not nearly all act like I described in these scenarios. It is more than understandable that an issue like guns can raise passions. There is nothing wrong with passion. But it cannot be an excuse to act wrongly.
In the end, I believe most people are trying to achieve the same ends. That being of reducing unnecessary and wrongful deaths and violence. I know there are governmental rule implications, too. Philosophies that will butt heads in these regards. I still see the overall goal for both sides is to accomplish the best for the citizens, and that would include a heavy emphasis on their safety and protection. And yes, there are plenty of ulterior motives that come into play in all this debate and argumentation. Some motives purer than others. But again, I see the overall desired end of both sides as being the same for the most part and at most times.
Maybe if we’re more willing to acknowledge, listen, and understand the other side rather than always trying to attack and demonize them, we will actually get somewhere in progressing toward a safer society. No, we will never reach a panacea. We wait for Jesus for that time to come. In the meantime, we surely can do better.
I write this article not to argue about guns. Rather to talk about how we talk about guns. Or really any divisive issue for that matter. Although we often fail, one would hope that Christians would be able to model honorable behavior in this debate. Let us aim to be fair and just and compassionate.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17