Sadly, the U.S.A. continues to protect gun ownership rights against the greater right to be free of the adverse impact of such weapons. This must now change. The leading cause of child death there – at more than 4000 annually – firearms! Last week’s Texas school shooting was finally one too many for all too many. This week, people finally began to turn on the Texas governor, the National Rifle Association, and other gun lobbyists, believing something might at last be done. This issue has stirred more than a little righteous indignation and the once too hard problem actually has some very straightforward solutions.
First, the dilemma is culturally embedded and the problem needs to be understood before it can be remedied.
Rights always come at the expense of other rights.
Is the right to arm oneself greater than the right to live? When these two rights become intertwined, we need to disentangle the ethical spaghetti. People’s alleged capacity to protect themselves when they have guns is directly proportional to other people’s capacity to arm themselves for harm. Therefore, the right to live gets mistaken for a right to defend oneself when what they need to defend themselves from is not yet being dealt with.
But, remove the guns and people cry foul over their right to bear arms because of the second amendment to the U.S. constitution. Of course, just as this right was added it now needs to be updated. It was not envisaged in the eighteenth century that citizens would ever be toting weapons whose sole purpose would be to kill a large number of people as quickly as possible.
There is a good reason individuals are not permitted to carry vials of deadly viruses or nuclear bombs! So, let’s stop pretending that the Christian foundations of the U.S. should somehow equate to a divine right to carry military grade weapons.
I wonder just how many lives – and whose lives – have to be sacrificed to protect this ‘right’?!
Of course, the common retort is that, as terrible as the problem is, it’s too hard to fix. It would actually be very easy to fix if U.S. politicians feared losing office for failing to do so. Culture change takes time, but it also takes some intentional first steps, and there is nothing like some people power to initiate them.
So, first take away the rights to own certain weapons, to buy them without identification or registration, and even to buy any sort of gun at all if below 21 years of age. Long before any threat to remove all guns, start by attacking some rights. This is a simple conflict resolution principle which is surely easy to implement.
Internal corruption finds whatever outlets we allow.
Our destructive inner self is the sin that affects all of us to some extent, focusing our self-absorption unhealthily. In its varying degrees, it can kill marriages, careers and businesses. In its extreme, it also kills people.
In cases of intense hatred, vengeance, fear, psychosis, or control, we see that guns provide a ready outlet for maximum harm where murderous intent might otherwise subside. When available weapons are those with less capacity for destruction, too, lives will be spared which would otherwise be lost.
Therefore, while we hear that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people,’ surely we must agree it is both.
Different triggers exist for different individuals – whether one or more factors such as on-screen aggression, pornography, mental impairment, unchecked anger, occultic influence, or substance abuse, lead to violent crime – all play a part in tapping an inner root of evil more corrupted in some than others.
Of course, shooters must take responsibility for their adverse actions, but should powerful legislators not therefore take responsibility, too, for permitting access to semi-automatic weapons? Just because a nation is capable of mass-production, should supply or demand drive their output?
“Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” as famously stated in the original Jurassic Park film.
There have now been more than 200 incidents in which at least four victims have been shot in the USA in 2022 alone! We’re not even half way through the year. Would the US government not decry any nation on earth prepared to tolerate such insanity at the expense of its civilian population?
Pride sadly justifies our hypocrisies.
When the U.S. believes itself to be better than nations that have significantly reduced deaths from mass shootings through firearm control, it effectively condones further deaths. Public sympathies for the dead, or minutes of silence to mark their passing, are breathtakingly hypocritical when coming from those who have the power to bring change. They just don’t see it. Pride never allows us to.
Of course, gun lobbyists’ empathy over school shootings will always be genuine in part but will seem little more than crocodile tears in the face of current reality. The Texas state governor, unbelievably, appealed via Twitter to his own people to outrank Californians for gun ownership, but guess which states rank one and two for school massacres over the past fifty years?!
Is not this drive to be better, to be more powerful, part of the problem? When the richest nation in the world (maybe now second to China) believes its own press, it becomes difficult to see the criticisms coming from afar.
Top business author, Jim Collins, borrowing from Proverbs 16:18, argues that ‘hubris born of success’ is the first explanation for how the mighty indeed fall. If this problem remains unchecked, one wonders just how far. Politicians wanting to ‘make America great again’ can start with gun control.
It is incredibly simple to ban automatic weapons (which private citizens do not need) and to impose universal background checks and age limits for guns (which only people with something to hide could surely oppose). Even though more than this is needed, opposing just this will be indefensible.
If less people will die, not more, any politician worthy of high office surely identifies that this is the hour in which rich and powerful backers can no longer be allowed to win out over the tide of public opinion. God is not a gun-slinging NRA devotee; his heart aches for the 45,000 who die needlessly from gun violence each year in the U.S.A.
We need to register cars, why not guns? Of course, I’d hope that the vast majority of weapons would eventually be removed, but let’s start with something!
The time has come.