On God and Guns: Why Mike Huckabee is Wrong about Sandy Hook

 

 

 

 

By David Bal (via Wikimedia Commons)

By David Bal (via Wikimedia Commons)

Mike Huckabee says that we have mass shootings because we have abandoned faith in God, but faith in God will not keep crazy people from harming the innocent. Only sane gun policy can do that.

I want to apologize in advance. My emotions are still raw. Twenty children died yesterday. Twenty families will never be able to cuddle their babies again. Twenty families had their lives torn apart 11 days before Christmas. (Now what do they do with the presents and pajamas they already bought for kids who will never scamper down the stairs again?) I normally try to keep an even tone when I write, but I can already tell I am going to have a hard time being patient with those who, in times like these, say we need God more than we need gun control. I have no problem with God. I love God. I am a Christian (like Mike Huckabee). I am even a theologian! Basically, I read, think, and talk about God for a living, but studying the history of the church also means that I am not daft enough to think that more Jesus means less violence.

By Magdalena & Marcin Muzioł (via Wikimedia Commons)

By Magdalena & Marcin Muzioł (via Wikimedia Commons)

Throughout history, millions have been murdered in the name of the God I pray to. Charlemagne murdered Saxons who refused to be baptized. Eusebius praised Constantine for waging holy wars against “barbarians.” The Puritans justified genocide against the Native Americans by comparing them to the ancient Canaanites, who must be driven from the Promised Land. People kill for Jesus, and anyone who says otherwise just is not paying attention. There is Jesus, and there is madness. History is full of those who kill in God’s name, but it is also full of the insane. Let me go out on a limb and say that anybody who is willing to open fire on a school has lost touch with reality. I believe Jesus can miraculously cure mental imbalances, but he usually doesn’t. Even if we put prayer back in school, even if we mounted the Ten Commandments on our courthouses and put displays of plastic baby Jesuses back in town squares, crazy people would still exist. As long as they can buy assault rifles with high-capacity magazines, they will keep killing our babies.

Back in August, I produced a segment for Things Not Seen Radio (starting at 35:00), after another madman opened fire in Aurora Colorado. In that segment, I addressed some of the arguments people make against gun control.

Some say we need guns to protect ourselves from mass shootings. They would have a point if life were like the movies, but the truth is that none of us has an inner-action hero who will rise up in a time of crisis to take out the bad guy. There were soldiers in Aurora who followed their training; they died like heroes, protecting the people they loved.

  • Some say we need guns to keep the government from terrorizing its own citizens. I think that a state with spy satellites, stealth bombers, and remote drones has little to fear from the readers of Soldier of Fortune or American Rifleman.
  • Some say that killers will always kill, no matter what weapons they have. They are right, but we can act responsibly to mitigate the damage they do. On the same day as the shootings in Connecticut, another madman attacked a school in China. He sent 22 kids to the hospital. But he only had a knife. The children and their parents are traumatized, but so far nobody has died.
  • Some say we need guns because we have a constitutional right to them. I think the Second Amendment should not be a place where logic goes to die. The genius of the framers was to enable the citizens of the republic to reform the Constitution for new sociopolitical realities, and we need to honor them by passing an amendment to protect our kids from the criminally insane. As a Christian, I believe we should pray for the insane. I might even want to talk to them about Jesus, but to say that God is the answer to gun violence is nonsense.

Maybe Mike Huckabee may have a point when it comes to violence in the streets (though I doubt it), but the only way to prevent mass shootings is to eliminate instruments of mass destruction.

There are several components to a sane gun policy (such as licensing), but the first order of business is to gather up every assault rifle and every high-capacity magazine that is not in military use, and throw them into a volcano. I know most owners of assault rifles are good people. They are law abiding citizens. But the zombies are not coming, and deer do not have thumbs. Nobody who shoots for hunting or sport needs a weapon that can fire six rounds per second. Assault weapons are basically expensive toys. Maybe it is not fair to take away one’s favorite toy because of a few bad guys, but life is not fair. It is time to grow up.

In closing, I have to say that I am inclined to agree with those who insist that it is too early to talk about gun control in the light of such a tragedy. I am a parent. Whenever something like this happens, my mind is flooded with images of my own three kids in a similar, God-awful situation. I cannot imagine their last few minutes terrified, just wanting to go home — just wanting “mommy” and “daddy.” I know that is a graphic description, but it is what twenty little ones went through last week. I waited a bit before responding to the Aurora shootings. Since then, I decided that the right time to talk about gun control is always now. It was my youngest child’s third birthday on Friday. All day I was crippled with the thought of what I would do if he never lived to see four.

We need to have this conversation now, because the next school shooting is coming. Talking about gun control in light of a tragedy like Sandy Hook is not talking politics. This is not politics. It is a matter of life and death.

18 Comments

  1. david December 26, 2012 12:44 am  Reply

    David,

    I am also a David, I hope you didn’t mind me linking to your article in mine. I wanted to echo and BOLD your point that more Jesus does not lead to “Less” violence. While I slightly differ on how much we can control rifles, I wanted to reach out and say you are on the money with the overall concept and article.

    Actually the ideal society for spirituality to destroy itself is a highly moral one. Where bars and clubs close down, and everyone goes to church on Sundays, but nobody questions the idea that maybe they are just as much (intrinsically) a sinner as the guy committing the “horrible crimes”. If that “in not like that guy” mentality was cultivated through “moralistic” teachings with no examination of mans heart; wed be worse off then in a society of weekly mass murders. Theres a parable somewhere about a rich man and a tax collector……

    http://pouredout.net/2012/12/hope-is-organic-not-manufactured/

    • davidjdunn December 26, 2012 4:06 am  Reply

      No problem. Link away! And if I understand you correctly, I think we are on the same page.

      I do not think an assault weapons ban is a cure-all, but it seems like a reasonable place to begin.

  2. Dan Baxter December 20, 2012 6:27 pm  Reply

    I’m not so sure MiKe Huckabee said what people are making it sound like he said. I listened to his video newscast and he claims not to have said that God was angry and so these kinds of things are happening. He seems to me to have said our nation as a whole has pushed God out of just about everything (which is of course true), and we usually only call on Him in times of peril, sickness or sadness. Jesus spoke of loving your enemies, doing good to those you treat you disrespectfully or even use you and persecute you. He told us to turn our cheek, when someone strikes us.. Remember Who we are talking about here. The sinless, perfect Son of God., In fact,” Emmanuel,” God with us. All He did was give of Himself, spread love to all those around Him.He did rebuke the self-righteous, Phariseees, and false teachers of His day, but spent most of His time teaching people to love one another, as He loves them. And what did they do to Him? They tortured Him and nailed Him to a cross. They crucified the Son of God, and it was my sin, and yours that nailed Him there, so that we could be saved from the wrath to come. Every true believer, believes this. But everyone is right who says the wickedness/evil in the world has been around since the beginning of man and will be till the end. It began in the Garden when the first man and woman ate a piece of fruit that God said,”Don’t even touch this.” It wasn’t murder, or rape, or fornication, or adultery that plunged humanity into sin, It was the disobedience of eating something that God said not to touch.. We all would have done the same thing.
    The whole world is numb over what happened at Sandy Hooke Elementary School. And I’m sure it would just as likely have happened whether there was Bible reading or prayer in the schools or not.. It was the work of a demented young man, with a seared conscience, and a very sick mind, and of course, too easy an access to guns.

    • davidjdunn December 20, 2012 7:19 pm  Reply

      I don’t think Huckabee’s said God punished us. The commentary I read suggested that most folks heard him saying that we have systematically removed God from our schools, and the lack of morals makes shootings like this more common. I do not buy the logic, but we seem to agree that more prayer in the school would not have kept the shooter out.

  3. James Mielke December 20, 2012 2:34 pm  Reply

    First let me say I understand your frustration, anger and sadness regarding the Sandy Hook shooting.
    As a gun owner, owner of assault weapons and retired Army (Desert Storm veteran), I too am appalled by the senseless violence committed over the last several months.
    However I must disagree with a attempt to poke holes in your logic.
    First, as long as there are military weapons, criminals will find a way to get them, usually by stealing them or buying them from those who stole them. This is how most of the gangs around the country get their full automatic weapons.
    Second, you are doing as many other s have done and that is to blame the tool of the crime.
    Your logic is flawed and is akin to saying that if there hadn’t been any knives, Jack the Ripper could have murdered those prostitutes; or if there weren’t any matches arsonists couldn’t set fires. ( I could go on about blaming spoons for making me overweight, but it wasn’t the spoons. I would have found a way to get that ice cream into my face one way or another :) )
    Mathematically, that is to say in theory, your idea has merit but like every theory, against practical application they are generally things or factors not accounted for.
    Point of fact, there is no magick, silver bullet that will end violent crimes. The answer to reducing these kinds of crimes must be a multi vectored approach.

    Religion is one approach. For many it provides solid moral foundation and compass to guide their lives by. But in extremes, much like water or oxygen, the extreme lack or abundance of, is not a good thing and will likely get you killed as seen in the suicide bombings of Iraq and Afgahnistan or the immolation used by certain Hindi (Hindu) sects; as well as the historic wars you already mentioned.

    Responsible gun regulation is another; My brother suggested mandatory licensing for all gun owners.
    As a holder of Type 3 FFL, I am okay with this. The background checks are more thorough than currently used for individual guns sales and it allows the Federal Government a firmer measure of control on who can buy and sell guns as well as what kinds of weapons they buy or sell making it easier to track registered weapons. This does not, however, eliminate the possibility of some crack pot slipping through or keep criminals from acquiring them but it might make it more difficult for them to do so.

    Responsible parenting is the best way to prevent violent crimes. There is much to be said for the ancient phrase; ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’.
    My own experience as a both child and parent have taught me that 2 or 3 good cuffs up the back of the head with a few days spent in solitary reflection for little Johnny generally teaches him not to repeat bad behavior and that lots of hugs, kisses and quality time with the family greatly encourages good behavior.
    It has also been my experience that exposing children to the realities of life is also a good thing. Again my experience as child and parent come into play here. I grew up with both guns and alcohol readily available in my parents house.
    Neither of my parents were alcoholics, indeed they rarely drank. Nor were they gun toting crazies.
    Both were hard working people, my father was an active hunter and WWII veteran. My mother worked in a local shoe factory and hunted in her younger days.
    From their good examples, I learned a healthy respect for both guns and alcohol.
    It is an example I tried to set for children and thus far it seems to have worked. My children hunt and go shooting with the wife and I; my son is in Army, and my oldest daughter is mature and responsible woman. (Jury is still out on the youngest, but she is showing some promise.)

    Responsible Media: Let’s start with the Press Corps. The amount of coverage they give these tragedies is appalling. It’s almost like they glorify the criminal.
    It’s been that way for a long time…Jesse James, Billy the Kid are 2 prime examples.
    As much as I hate to say it, video games are part of the problem too. Games like but not exclusively, the Call of Duty series; first person shooter games have many of us enthralled, myself included.
    However, many people I have gamed with and against online with these games seem to be under the impression that ‘re-spawn’ is the way of life. While this is partly true for many real world endeavors (try, try again), it is most definitely not the case when getting shot or shooting someone else in real life.
    My experiences in Desert Storm proved this to me.
    Part of this also goes back to parenting, teaching children the difference between reality and video games.
    (In defense of these video games, I have found they are great therapy and stress relief; there is nothing like coming home after a long day of having the boss on your back or some jack-wagon on your nerves, booting up Call of Duty and mentally projecting all of your frustration and anger onto the electronic images on the screen with large calibre weapons.)

    That you for your patience on my long winded opinion.

    James Mielke

    • James Mielke December 20, 2012 2:42 pm  Reply

      I apologize for the numerous spelling and grammatical errors; I blame interruptions from my youngest as the cause.

    • davidjdunn December 20, 2012 3:35 pm  Reply

      James, thank you for your comment and for your service. I agree with you that, “Point of fact, there is no magick, silver bullet that will end violent crimes. The answer to reducing these kinds of crimes must be a multi vectored approach.” The difference is that I think a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips is part of that approach. (I also think we should put serial numbers on shells and link them to purchasers.) I think faith is very important when it comes to reducing violence, but I do not think imposing the trappings of religion on a school system is the same as faith.

      Also, I appreciate your effort to poke holes in my logic, especially since you are not being a jerk about it. (-:

      First, I am not convinced that assault weapons are all that easy to purchase illegally. Nor have I heard of gangs with fully automatic weapons (a link to an article would really be great). I would be curious to learn how often a criminal breaks into a home and is stopped by an assault weapon. Most of the stories I hear about involve handguns. So, would assault weapons be better for defense or not? To answer that question, I guess we would need data. Thus I am basing my proposal off a hunch, of sorts, but it is a reasoned hunch.

      Your second point is a bit of a straw man (actually it’s a lot of a straw man). I never said that banning assault weapons would prevent mass shootings. I do believe that making such weapons rarer will mitigate the violence, which (you are right) is inevitable.

      Lately, I have found myself wondering: How many children will need to die for an assault weapons ban to be okay? I mean, let’s pretend such a ban did not lead to an increase in violent crime (like you suggest it might). If I said an assault weapons ban would mean only 19 children died, would you consider it? I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but it is an interesting thought experiment. Yes, it is a hypothetical situation, which can be problematic because they are too simplistic. But sometimes thinking about just one or two factors can help us see where we are more committed to ideology than reason.

      If the shoe were on the other foot – if I saw data that showed that such a ban contributed to an increase in violent crime – I am pretty sure I would be willing to reconsider my position. That would suck, in a way, because it would mean I am wrong. But facts are more important than my ego.

      Okay, my response was way longer than your comment. I apologize, and I am impressed at such clarity of thought when children were interrupting. They tend to make it impossible for me to form any coherent thoughts.

  4. Tim Harrison December 19, 2012 7:12 pm  Reply

    I appreciate your write up, David. I believe you skillfully express a popular viewpoint.

    In my opinion, the problem with gun control is that it decreases one’s ability to defend him/herself. Policies around this issue must be approached very carefully. Since there are a large number of gun owners in the country who are against gun control, only a smart political approach can prevail. I suspect your article will sit very well with those for gun control, and not well with those against. So I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you’re moving the discussion forward.

    Furthermore, since you are a Christian, I’m startled that you sould say you are “not daft enough to think that more Jesus means less violence”. A shudder to think how non-Christians will interpret that statement. “Even the Christians admit their Jesus leads to violence?” No. Jesus was man who scripture writers say could do anything, and He chose to heal people. Gospel writers believed that Jesus was God incarnate, and he chose to die on a cross to reconcile his enemies to God. Now, I think I know what you meant: violent people often claim Jesus is on their side. But honestly, adding “more Jesus” to a person can only make him / her LESS violent. Gun control does not make you less violent. Following Jesus does.

    • davidjdunn December 20, 2012 3:18 pm  Reply

      Hi Tim,

      About half the time I think you are right. I am not sure what will be done to move this issue forward. My grandfather gave me my first rifle as a birthday present when I was 16. That is when I began reading NRA literature. I was young, enthusiastic, and highly impressionable. Now, what I take away from that experience, is how adamantly the NRA opposes most sensible gun control. It is slippery-slope “rationality,” which states that if the government bans assault weapons, they will eventually ban all questions. It’s a non sequitur. It makes having a discussion about this issue very difficult.

      What gives me hope is that a growing number of Americans are opposed to assault rifles. To me, it just makes no sense to have a rifle that can fire six shots per second and a 100 round clip. Realistically, from whom are we defending ourselves? Foreign invaders? We have the most powerful military in the world. From our own government? We have the most powerful military in the world.

      I appreciate your point about how others outside my faith might receive my words. But I see no need to worry that, “Even the Christians admit their Jesus leads to violence?” I never said Jesus leads to violence. I said he does not lead to less violence. Historically, we are not talking about something like personal devotion. Neither was Mike Huckabee. When religion of any kind is made a part of culture, it does nothing to stem the violence of that culture. Mostly it just provides religious excuses for that violence.

      Thank you for your kind words and for making me think.

      • Jeremy February 5, 2013 7:08 am  Reply

        Mr. Dunn,

        First, let me state that I am an ardent supporter of the second amendment, and am generally opposed to gun regulation. Having said that, I understand that the world we live in is an imperfect one, and regulating firearms just one example of the price that we pay for that imperfection.

        The main problem becomes is where to draw a sensible line when it comes to protecting the public from those who would do harm, and trampling on the rights of law-abiding citizens. You talk about having a “sane gun policy” but follow it up with throwing assault weapons and high capacity magazines into a volcano. That is not the starting point for a healthy conversation, and will only inflame the passions of those who disagreed with you. If you want to be taken seriously, leave out the dramatics and just talk facts. You show skepticism toward James and his claims about illegally acquired weapons and ask for a link to an article, but then procede to follow it up with a “hunch” as the only proof to back up your rebuttal. Since you want to bring up straw men, James never actually said that aquiring said weapons was easy, only that they did it. While you are technically correct that you did not say an assault weapons ban would prevent mass killings, you did a good job of making it seem that way, going so far as to say “As long as they can buy assault rifles with high-capacity magazines, they will keep killing our babies.” The conclusion that any reasonable person would draw from your remark is that you do in fact believe that removing assault weapons will end these types of attacks. I was amused by one of your other arguments. Deer with thumbs? Hyperbole is not going to open the doors of discussion.

        Of all your statements though, the one that bothered me the most was this “Realistically, from whom are we defending ourselves? Foreign invaders? We have the most powerful military in the world. From our own government? We have the most powerful military in the world.” Who does that military work for exactly? If we did have to defend ourselves from our own government, how does having the most powerful military in the world work in our favor? It would seem to make the case for citizens having MORE assualt weapons, not fewer. More to the point though, that scenario is exactly why we have the second amendment. Forget about hunting and sport-shooting. The right to bear arms is about protecting liberty from an over-reaching government, however improbable that might be. To forget that lesson from history, and let our second amendment rights be irrevocably infringed is a mistake that we can only afford to make once, and I pray that we never do.

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