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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Gun Control

People are dying. Daily. At the end of a gun. Adults and kids, innocents and criminals, cops and robbers. So there is a rally cry: "Gun control!" Because that, dear reader, is the answer. That will solve this problem.

Four high school students were arrested for planning to "shoot and kill as many people as possible" at their local high school. Add them up. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College ... on and on. Too many people are dying from guns. We can fix this. Ban guns! I mean, don't studies show that eliminating guns will drastically reduce gun deaths? Well, duh! But a study from Harvard suggests that banning firearms may not be the answer.

I'm thinking that we don't really know the question, so finding answers might be difficult. An article in Salon argues that it's "our toxic white male culture of violence." Ah, yes, that is likely the problem. White males. "The overwhelming white maleness of these school shooters is not inconsequential, because it means they fall into the statistically defined parameters of the typical American gun owner who, is Protestant, white, and male, and holds conservative political views." Okay, good! So, rather than gun control, perhaps we just need to control white males. Specifically religious white males. At least the conservative ones. Because, as we all know, the primary offenders in shootings are overwhelmingly white male Protestant conservatives. Don't we?

Others argue that it's things like bullying, except too many of the people doing the spree shootings are not targeting their bullies; they're just killing. There have been more than one of these killers who did it simply for the notoriety. Kill someone and you get known. So maybe "bully control" isn't the answer. And I can't imagine "fame control".

So, there are all sorts of controls we might exert. Paula Young Lee of that Salon article suggests "the most powerful weapon in this war is the kind of education that doesn’t come from the internet, but books you have to read. For school." So let's make a deeper and yet more selective education the answer. Or bully control. Or white male conservative control. Or gun control. Do what you want. Because I doubt that we as a society are going to actually come up with the right solution when we don't know what the problem is.

This was Jesus's idea of the problem. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." (Matt 15:19) A heart problem. Murder comes not from the availability of guns or the presence of mean people or the fact that you are a white, conservative, Protestant male. It comes from a heart that exchanges the glory of God for creation (Rom 1:23) and does not "see fit to acknowledge God" (Rom 1:28). It is nourished by "a debased mind" that not only engages in murder, strife, deceit and all, but gives approval to those who do (Rom 1:28-32). Control guns all you want. It doesn't fix the problem.

In the end, I'm not writing about gun control. Or bully control or the elimination of white male Christians. You guys can fight that out among yourselves. What we need is an act of God on the hearts of people around us. That takes place when God's messengers take God's message to those who need it (Rom 10:13-15). You can go ahead with whatever mechanisms you like, but until hearts change, mechanisms will just keep failing. I'd much rather work on something that works.

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