CALIFORNIA, December 22, 2012 — Words can’t express the unimaginable sorrow experienced after the murders at Sandy Hook. Though inconceivable just a week before, this scar on our national psyche is deeper than those after Columbine and Aurora. Unfortunately, as with other violent tragedies, political opportunists have shamefully seized this heart-wrenching time to demonize guns instead of the shooter and destructive societal influences.
Although anyone using innocent death for ideological gain should not be shown any respect, this is a time for us to openly debate arguments about gun ownership, access, control, culture and merit. Understandably, many attribute the Sandy Hook savagery to mental illness, therapeutic drugs, poor parenting, or easy access to semi-automatic weapons. But other plausible influences include: bullying; graphic video game violence; years of gratuitous violence on TV and in movies; songs glorifying cruelty and even demon possession (Matthew 8:16). And what about the effects of trivializing life through: euthanasia; physician assisted suicide; and the abortion of innocent babies? Treating life as an object instead of with the infinite value it merits by being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) only invites abuse since any moral basis for self-restraint and ultimate judgment is ignored.
Make no mistake, the shooter, no one and nothing else, is responsible for the Sandy Hook killings. A hopelessly disturbed mind, an evil heart, or both were at fault. With insanity, it’s critical to identify it early and apply as much compassionate supervision as possible. But the evil in humanity’s heart is much more complex to deal with (Jeremiah 7:19). Just as our bodies react to what we physically eat, our minds are impacted by the surrounding culture (Psalm 101:2-4). Why are we then surprised to see violence woven into our nation’s fabric after decades of being taught moral relativism?
But wait, where do our short sighted politicians turn for the “quick-fix”? The one thing historically proven to stop a violent crime – guns! The issue isn’t the size of an ammunition clip, or what makes an assault weapon, or whether gun safes and trigger locks work, or whether 1,000 new laws should be added to the existing 20,000. Since insanity, evil, and even abusive government can’t be eradicated, the real issue is how do responsible citizens protect themselves?
What’s clearly lacking in major news media and the current administration for reasonable debate is any understanding of the rationale for our Constitutional right to bear arms. Our founders assumed our duty to defend against criminals. They also knew that abusive authority will try to restrain the ability of its citizens to fight back. That’s why the Bill of Rights ensures we can bear arms while government is restrained from disarming us. That’s why government shouldn’t decide what a citizen needs for self-protection. We have the right to protect ourselves from individuals (Exodus 20:13; 22:2-3), gangs and even our government. Unfortunately, in the gun rights battle, we’ve allowed public opinion to be manipulated by those that cherry-pick domestic crime information, use other nations’ experiences, or play on emotional wounds.
In contrast, the American people have a remarkable ability to understand difficult issues when given adequate information unfiltered by biased news or massaged by eloquent, misguided politicians. But for a national debate to be successful we must begin by acknowledging basics: the sinful human condition; our fundamental right to defend ourselves; personal responsibility for gun safety; and the careless growth of destructive influences in our culture.
Open regard for objective research on violence, reasoned arguments, and esteeming our individual rights will go a long way to ensuring proper respect for and use of guns. But knee-jerk legislative activism will only be successful in taking a cheap shot at the wrong target while creating conditions for even more violence in the future. This we cannot allow to happen.
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