A Southern Pastor: Are You Sure That’s A Good Guy With That Gun?

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Another shooting, this time on Christmas in Alabama at a movie theater. The story is reported here, on Bipartisan Report. These shootings have become normal, no longer shocking, just a part of American life. In the comments, once again, there are those who scream that this incident is exactly why we need less gun control and more guns: a good guy with a gun would have prevented this. But I am not convinced.

According to GunViolenceArchive.org, there have been 13,054 gun deaths so far this year, with 3,294 aged 17 or younger killed or injured this year by guns. At what point does this become unacceptable? And where is the solid proof that in any of these situations introducing more guns would have helped? Do we really believe that the way to end gun violence is more guns?

I have heard all the arguments. I teach American history and probably understand the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment better than most. But I think that argument is the wrong argument to be having.

I do not want to go back to the year 1787.

I am a fan of indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and air conditioning. When I am sick I want to be given antibiotics rather than have leeches applied. I like cars, and airplanes, and TVs. And I believe in sterilization to combat the spread of germs, and the prevention of disease by vaccine. Growth and development are good; slavery was later written out of and woman’s suffrage written into what was originated in 1787. Our Constitution was meant to adapt.

I do not believe that we, as a society, can ignore the fact that we are in transition. Technology has created, and fixed, and healed, and provided so many things, but where do we go from here? Saying that we live in a civilization where I can only feel safe if everyone is carrying a gun does not seem to be a step forward.

If we have progressed as a civilization, then we should be able to feel safe without it having to look like something out of the old west (which by the way, was absolutely not safe).

Saying that we all must carry guns to be safe in our modern world is the same as admitting that we are too stupid, or uncaring, or lazy to figure out an intelligent and compassionate solution. I refuse to believe that we have come so far only to be pulled back to the 18th century by those who are incapable or unwilling to work on a more advanced and acceptable solution.

People I know and love post pictures of themselves on Facebook with their dozens of guns and talk about how that is the representation of their freedom. I am just unwilling to believe that this is where we are heading in our world. That instead of a sustainable society of invention, technology, development, art, education, compassion and growth, we are determined to revert to the barbaric idea that it is every person for themselves, and only violence can win. We are smarter than that. We are stronger than that. And we are more compassionate than that.

I believe in our Constitution more than to accept that the great experiment of a democratic republic like America has failed, and all I can rely on now is a gun.

(Originally ran December 26, 2015)

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