Thanks to everyone who prayed for me recently upon hearing about my unplanned trip to the hospital. I have to admit that I was also a bit alarmed when the EMTs said they thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, the heart specialist did not agree. I’ll be following up with our family doc to see if we can identify any other possible causes for my loss of consciousness. I’ve been taking a gently-enforced week off this week at the suggestion of several people at church. I’m thankful and a bit awed that there are so many people who found out about this so quickly, and at the level of support for me and my family. So, thanks be to God first for the excellent medical care He provides for us, and especially for the certainty of eternal life that we have in Jesus Christ. I was absolutely ready to see Him, and utterly confident of His mercy toward a sinner like me (even though I wasn’t so sure about the heart attack thing). Thanks also to the EMTs, doctors, nurses, and other professionals that took such good care of me when minutes might have made a big difference, as far as we knew. Whether they realized it or not, they (like everyone who fulfills their godly vocation on Earth) were acting as the hands of God in service to their neighbor.
Speaking of minutes making a difference, you might have watched the YouTube video I embedded in a recent post about violent attacks. The best 911 response times, when the responders don’t happen to be next-door already, are usually measured in minutes. If you’re confident that you could hold off a violent attacker for as long as it takes without the use of deadly force, then you probably don’t have a dog in the gun control fight that our esteemed President has brought to Washington, D.C, again. But if you think you might want the ability to apply a level of force that could possibly kill, when someone is threatening or using such force upon you and your loved-ones, then you should be deeply interested in the outcome of this latest attempt to undermine the Second Amendment and the civil right of American citizens to keep and bear arms.
My last post here distinguished between reason, emotion, and faith as motivating factors in an argument such as this. The term “assault weapon” is meant to evoke an emotional response. Assault is an attack upon another person. Any weapon used for such a thing might be called an assault weapon. For example, recent statistics have been repeated in several places that hammers and other blunt objects are continually the most frequently-used murder weapons. Or if you prefer, “assault weapons.” The word “assault” produces an emotional response, because it’s something everyone wants to avoid in the context of civil society. The only acceptable context for “assault” is war, so the inventors and purveyors of the term “assault weapon” are trying to argue that whatever weapons they think are so described have no legitimate function in civil society. They are wrong in their use of language, and also wrong in their argument. If you want to be deceived by demagoguery, then by all means, ignore the truth. If you want to avoid being deceived and used as a political tool, then you should learn the truth about this recently-coined term. You can find it here: www.assaultweapon.info.
It seems that President Obama continues in his attempt to manipulate emotion by gathering with children in front of television cameras. He hopes that we will identify those children with others in our own lives, and visualize the horror of their deaths, and therefore (in his mind) the necessity of outlawing all those nasty guns. Especially “assault weapons.” The President and others who have used children that way (not unlike human shields) hope that this strong emotion will prevent your reason from seeing the great weakness of their rational arguments, and that you will gladly give up some of your civil rights in exchange for his (empty) promise of greater safety for your children.
Let me suggest an alternative emotional response. Those children with President Obama are indeed children who need protection from violence when it happens, and so are the children in your life. Disarming the people who are seconds away from protecting those children actually places them in greater danger. It doesn’t make them any safer. Don’t be disturbed that I seem to be giving the lie to the President’s agenda. It’s not personal, nor based upon his race. If anything, it’s because he’s a politician with a well-meaning but absolutely wrong agenda. He has full faith in the ability of government to solve problems like this, when nobody on Earth can eliminate violence and evil. We already have the best answer for that in the Second Amendment (for when seconds count), in the 911 system (for when minutes will do), and in the justice system (for the aftermath). So if you want to identify with the children used by politicians on this point, a better emotional response is this: decide to protect them from violence by preparing to shoot the perpetrator before he or she tries to harm a child, while you are waiting for the 911 responders to show up.
President Obama proposes to accept all responsibility for the safety of your children (on behalf of law enforcement personnel throughout the country) in exchange for some of your freedom. That’s not the answer, for two reasons. First, the primary responsibility remains yours and mine. Second, it’s an empty promise that neither he nor any other government official, nor the entire force of government in the United States can fulfill, even if we were to become a totalitarian, despotic nation with no civil rights or freedoms reserved for the citizens.
An AR-15 or handgun with plenty of bullets in the magazine, in the hands of a trained and responsible American citizen who happens to be in the right place at the right time, has the potential to save many lives of both children and adults from the acts of one or more violent criminals. As the President and Vice President have said, if something has the potential to save only one life, it’s worth considering. What if it has already saved a great many lives? Then it’s worth keeping.
Now, maybe you don’t trust your fellow citizens to do the right thing. If not, then why would you trust politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement personnel to do the right thing? Are they not your fellow citizens too?
If it’s a matter of training, did you know that citizens like you can get trained to the same levels of skill by schools like Front Sight and people like Massad Ayoob? If you’re not comfortable with fellow citizens having such training, then again, why would you be comfortable with any fellow citizen having such training? Law enforcement officers are fellow citizens, too, as are soldiers and sailors.
Maybe your disposition is not compatible with the possibility of dealing with a violent encounter, and you prefer that someone else provide the protection you need. That’s fine. But don’t be fooled into thinking that disarming your law-abiding neighbors will make you any safer. It would make you less safe, because the people who want to harm you will not be disarmed. In fact, the disturbing truth is that those who would harm you don’t even need any particular weapon to do it. If you want to be safer, then encourage your fellow law-abiding citizens to do what is necessary to defend you when the need arises. The same goes for the safety of your children. Statistics bear this out. A pertinent case study in recent decades is Kennesaw, Georgia. Compare the rate of violent crime in those parts of the country where the civil right of bearing arms is curtailed to those parts where it is not. You are safer where more of your neighbors have more guns.
Christians might be disturbed by the possibility of causing the death of another person. The Fifth Commandment says “You shall not murder.” I’ve discussed this at length on this blog, and would refer you to those posts. But in brief, consider what this commandment means (emphasis added). “We should fear and love God, so that we do no bodily harm to our neighbor, but help and befriend him in every need.” Failing to defend your neighbor, including children, is as much a violation of this commandment as the intentional and malicious killing of another human being. Leaving this responsibility entirely to President Obama and law enforcement officers is a de facto abdication of that responsibility, because even with the best of intentions, they cannot defend our lives in every case, and their efforts will almost always be less effective. The bottom line is that the Fifth Commandment requires each of us to assume a personal role in the defense of our own children and every neighbor.
Speaking of guilt, some lawmakers seem to feel guilty when a horrific murder occurs. They assume that a law could have prevented the murder(s), so they try to adjust the laws after the fact. As a pastor, let me assure our lawmakers that you are not responsible for the acts of such monsters. However, if you disarm the victims or those who might have defended them, then you are partly to blame for those deaths. There is no other way to see it. So the people who make schools, shopping malls, or theaters into “gun-free zones” are partly to blame when the victims are defenseless against those who pay no mind to the little “gun-free zone” sign on the door. Man up and bear it, because there’s no other way to see it. But let me also assure you that Jesus Christ died upon His cross to remove the guilt of that sin. In Him, God has forgiven you, just as He forgives lawmakers, and even politicians. Jesus opens the way for you to eternal life, and that fact should now motivate you to do the right thing, while you still can. That’s the motivation of faith.
What to do? If you want to be safer, send a message to your elected representatives at every level that the civil right protected by the Second Amendment is essential to the safety of our citizens and our families. Gun violence is only a small part of the general problem of violence in our country. But when you are confronted with violence of any kind, then your safety and the peace of our society dictates that you also need access to violence in order to protect the lives of innocents. The best way to give you that access is to preserve the Second Amendment in its full force. That’s how to make our society safer for both children and adults.