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.
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.