A Christian’s Role in Gun Control
School shootings have been in the headlines again, as the nation still recovers from the tragic and preventable loss of 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, at the hands of a troubled teenager armed with an AR-15. This is already the 12th school shooting of 2018, and we are only a little over two months into the year. At least four of these have involved multiple victims, including one in Benton, Kentucky, where 16 were shot, and two killed.
It is certain these awful events have multiple causes, from increasing violence in the media, social isolation in our high-tech society, breakdown of parenting relationships (especially between fathers and boys), and a repression of healthy masculinities in an increasingly gender confused society. Yet one cannot discount the ready availability of the tools that actually make the extremity of these attacks possible—weapons of high volume, velocity and fire rate.
As Christians, is our response limited to praying for the victims of such attacks, both past and future? Or is there a role for public action? I believe there is. Much as our pioneers spoke out against the public health hazards of alcohol and tobacco, so the modern Adventist church has spoken out on the public health hazard of certain types of weapons.
In 1990 the General Conference issued a statement arguing for a ban on the sale of automatic and semi-automatic assault and military-style weapons to the public. In doing so, they cited the example of Christ who came to heal and not to kill; who told Peter to put up his sword; and who said those that live by the sword will die by the sword. The Sixth commandment prohibits murder, and the spirit of that law as Christ says in the sermon on the mount, is not just to prevent murder, but to act in the principle of preserving life, which limiting assault-style weapons would do.
Weapons that fire at a high rate and velocity, and that have large magazine capacities, do not have useful purposes for civilians. They are simply made to kill people at a high volume, and very quickly. The licensing connected with these weapons is often much less demanding than owning and driving a car, or operating a ham radio. One of the things that keeps this type of gun violence going is an unholy alliance between gun manufacturers, the gun lobby and politicians who are willing to be bought. Christians need to protest these abuses in the name of God and humanity.