I always know when I post something about guns urging reason and responsibility, gun-loving readers will not be happy. Temperatures rise, especially when I use humor or sarcasm to make my point. I realize there’s an amount of danger in stirring up the Guns-and-God Group. . .but if reasonable people don’t speak out, “gun rights” will snuff out the rights of everyone else.
As a Chaplain for many years I reflect on the Culture of Violence we live in. It’s not pretty. There’s a kind of savage, gun-slinging, Wild West mentality that needs to be stopped by legislation and people armed to the teeth with Common Sense. But there’s something deeper to confront: a deep-set FEAR that people don’t know what to do with, so they buy a gun, then more guns, and try to Arm Themselves Against Fear. It’s a crazy, irrational cycle that makes our world much more dangerous.
When Religion is used to support the fear, to support weapons and war, division and conflict, it becomes a powerful ally of the Bullet-Believers. With God on your side you can threaten and kill and destroy lives with impunity, even thinking you’re “righteous.” Rifle-Religion (with its Bible Bombs) is probably the most dangerous combination on the planet. Whole species get blown away, and so does our humanity.
Here is why I Fire Back with Reason when it comes to The Gospel of Guns:
1) I was raised with guns. I had a rifle. My father was a member of the NRA and a Sportsman’s Club; he had rifles on the wall and a pistol in his station wagon. His experience shooting a pheasant (blew it to pieces) and my experience shooting a blackbird that hung upside down on the branch, ended our “hunting” phase. As I like to say: I grew up with guns. . .then I grew up.
2) I taught firearm safety at a kids’ camp one summer. Target practice is fun. But, especially for young boys, it’s easy to forget a weapon is not a toy and the lethal power in your hands to kill. So, watch out birds, cats, little sisters and brothers and other living things. Nothing good can come from killing things just to kill.
3) I have worked with people who live in fear of violence or have experienced violence. Vulnerable people, women who have suffered from domestic abuse, children who have seen the violence, all deserve respect and they have a Right to Freedom from Fear. Most gun-lovers have little or no concern for people who live in fear. . .so they perpetuate the myth that “the more guns the more safe.” Ironically, gun-lovers end up making themselves and everyone around them More Fearful by owning more and more weapons of violence. Living in fear is no way to live and makes us all Less Safe.
4) I have worked with people who have used guns to kill. I counseled with men and women in a county jail for ten years and saw first hand the tragedy and pain caused by firearms. The NRA loves to say guns don’t kill people but actually they do. They give people the power to kill and some use that power with terrible results.
5) I am NOT against all guns. It seems reasonable that our Police and Military Personnel have weapons. I wish it didn’t have to be, but it is the world we live in. Most of the rest of us don’t need weapons that kill. I would like to see more non-lethal weapons developed for protection. Hunting is unnecessary for the vast majority in our country (especially with military weapons!). I carry a walking stick; it works pretty well and won’t accidentally go off and kill the neighbor kids.
6) I have studied and taught Spiritual Traditions and many scriptures for a long time and see nothing that supports Living in Fear or Arming with Weapons (even those who criticize the Qur’an and its mention of defending against infidels fail to notice that every chapter of the Qur’an begins with “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful”). My conclusion after years of study and reading and working with people of many faiths: Gun-loving is Incompatible with the True Practice of Faith. In other words, if you love things built to kill, your faith is questionable.
The Gospel of Guns has nothing to do with the Way of Jesus (or Moses or Buddha or Muhammad or Reason or a Fearless Faith). Maybe if JC was around today he would first denounce our Culture of Violence and then say something like:
“You cannot serve God and Guns!”
Maybe the best way to Face the Fearfully Faithful is to remind them of these simple words from the First Letter of John:
“There is no fear in Love, but Perfect Love casts out Fear.”
(You won’t often hear a Secular Chaplain quoting a holy book! Then again, those who are unafraid of truth can find it in many strange places!)
More people killed by guns in America since 1968 than ALL U.S. Wars! (read the facts and sober up)
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 3,525 people have been injured by gun violence in America and 2,172 have been killed since Jan. 1, 2014.
Church Raffles Rifles (FAUX)–“God-given right!”