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Let's Talk About Guns

In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, FL last week there has been a lot of discussion lately about gun control, the 2nd Amendment and the place of assault rifles in mainstream society. There have been too many mass shootings for this discussion not to take place. Too many innocent lives have been lost and there are simply too many guns just floating around for anybody to get their hands on. The so-called “left” is pushing for heavier gun control regulations which would inflict more stringent background checks on gun buyers, elimination of military style assault rifles and 100 round magazines from the public market. On the other hand, the so-called “right” is very adamant about defending our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, and to cap it all off, The National Rifle Association is calling for armed police and guards in schools. I would like to weigh in on the debate for just a moment from three perspectives: political, social, and racial.

            From a political standpoint, I in no way believe that gun control regulations are in violation of the 2nd Amendment, and I wish the far right would understand this. No one is trying to take away your guns! They are trying to “control” who has access to guns and what kinds should be available! As was pointed out in another article I read, times were very different when the 2nd Amendment was written. First of all, it was written in post-revolutionary war America to ensure that Americans would have protection from any other Red Coats or militias that would try to impose themselves on us. Second, they used muskets that took almost 2 minutes to reload one round, not 100 round semi-automatic pistols or rifles. The context and the situation are completely different. That being said, perhaps the 2nd Amendment should be updated to reflect a 21st century world. The context that produced the 2nd Amendment in the 18th century is most definitely not the context of the 21st century.

There is the political element of the NRA that has many politicians in their pocket. I wonder, however, how history will see this political moment. Will they look back like we do now on Nazi Germany? We look back and sit in judgment of all the politicians that went along with Hitler’s program that did not speak out against the evil they saw being perpetuated. We look back in judgment of the soldiers that claim they were just “following orders” instead of doing the right thing. I wonder how history will look back on our time. I believe they will look back in judgment of our unwillingness to act in the face of unprecedented slaughter and disaster to protect our children and our nation. Even as I write this, those same children are speaking up and taking a stand for themselves as the adults and politicians quiver under the power of the NRA. I believe history will applaud these children for standing for common sense and being willing to act in the face of power and they will look down on us as being cowards that refused to act in the face of the demise of our society.

            From a social perspective, I am trying to understand what in the world is wrong with us?! Pundits that are blaming these mass shootings on access to guns and mass media refuse to acknowledge that other countries have just as many guns and just as much media exposure. In his documentary Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore showed that countries like Canada, Japan, England and Germany have just as many guns per capita. They also view just as many violent movies, listen to just as much violent music and play just as many violent video games as we do in America, yet have nowhere near the amount of violent crimes that we do. Pundits will then argue that America’s violent past and history is the source of such violence. But as Moore’s film pointed out, are we saying that Nazi Germany’s history isn’t as violent as Americas? Or the British Empire? So violent history has nothing to do with it. What does? In my opinion, there is simply something wrong with us as Americans. If other countries have the same access to guns, violent media, and just as violent a history, why do they all have violent crimes in the hundreds or under while America’s yearly violent crimes totals over 50,000? There is something fundamentally wrong with us as Americans. The whole “frontier” and “manifest destiny” mentality has done a job on our collective psyches. There’s really no excuse for it. Americans are more violent than other developed countries, period. Perhaps we should go about discovering why.

Finally, there is the racial component. Can you imagine with me for one second, if all of these mass shootings were all committed by Muslims or anyone from the Middle East? Can you imagine if it were hundreds of black men armed with AR-15 rifles and kept shooting up white children what the reaction would be? No! You cannot imagine it! You cannot even fathom it! Because we all know well and good what the reaction would be! The response would be so swift and thorough that we wouldn’t know what hit us. The repression would be so great that it would tantamount to an occupation of Arab-American or African-American communities. AR-15’s would have been outlawed long ago, at least for those two communities. But because the majority of these shooters happen to be middle-class white people, “it’s not about the gun, it’s about mental health”. Need we remind ourselves the last time black people stood up to arm themselves in SELF-DEFENSE with the Black Panther Party—not in attack but in self-defense— they were visited with such a level of government repression that their offspring are still experiencing the effects.

In conclusion, if we do not act, we will not survive. I hope that someone in power will ally themselves with these brave young men and women that are activating now and begging for their parents and politicians to ACT. I will say plainly, the NRA has the blood of children on their hands. These politicians and pundits have blood on their hands. The blood of innocent children cries out to God as did the blood of Abel in Genesis and will not God hear the cry? Indeed he will, and this nation will be met with severe judgment. Jesus said Himself, “Whoever harms one of these little ones, it will be better for him if a millstone was tied around his neck and cast into the sea” (Matthew 18:6). We must repent, and we must act. Or God will act.

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