Nearly every time there's a shooting anywhere in the country, the calls for more gun control get louder. Emotional pleas to protect our children make their way to state capitals and the halls of Congress. Calls for safer streets and schools are necessary and right. We need to do something to make our society less violent. Abridging the freedoms of law-abiding citizens, however, is not the way to control the excesses of violence and greed that stem from a much larger problem: sin.
More laws restricting the rights of citizens to own firearms will not make society less violence prone. Let's face it, we've tried that and it doesn't work. Washington, D.C. is a virtual "no-gun-zone," yet it consistently has a crime rate at the top of the national listings. Both Australia and England have already banned personal ownership of guns, but violent crime is not down in either country. Stephen Poe, author of the challenging book The Seven Myths of Gun Control, reports that in Australia violent crime has increased in every category. From 1997 to 1999, murders rose 6.5%, and attempted murders rose 12.5%. Increases were also reported in assaults, kidnappings, and armed robberies.
Australia ranked first on a list of violent crime "among industrialized nations." But things are not much better in the mother country, which ranked second. Meanwhile, the United States, assumed by many to be the most violent of all nations — and a nation in which gun ownership is still possible — isn't even among the top 10.
Guns and Families
On the other hand, Switzerland, according to Poe, "has the highest per capita firepower in the world." Yet that small, peaceful nation "has managed to stay out of both world wars and to avoid dictatorship, invasion, and revolution." Poe reports that the murder rate in Switzerland is about the same as that of Japan, where guns are outlawed. The murder rate is much lower than that of England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Family life may be an important factor in this regard. Families are more stable in Switzerland than in most places in the world. According to Poe, "[T]he percentage of children born out of wedlock was 8.7 in 1998 — the lowest in Europe. The percentage of women who work outside the home is also lower in Switzerland than in any other European country. Families spend much of their free time together.... Studies have shown that Swiss teenagers prefer the company of their parents to that of their peers."
So What To Do
The first thing we do is to stand back and take a sober look at the causes of violence in our nation. In the wake of the workplace massacre in Wakefield, Massachusetts a few years back, a liberal state senator was quick to file new bills to restrict access to firearms even further. She got a lot of media attention. Yet when a representative of an association of sportsmen and gun owners proposed a Blue Ribbon Commission to study the societal roots of the violence problem, he was ignored by the press. And his proposal was barely noted by the governor's office.
Next, we need to consider a moratorium on new gun laws. We have gun laws. Most new gun laws are no more than "feel-good" legislation, aimed at padding the liberal bona-fides of lawmakers and bolstering their prospects for reelection. Enforcement, not enactment, is what's needed. Better enforcement of existing laws has been proven to work. When Richmond, VA, Baltimore, MD, Rochester NY, and Bridgeport, CT decided to devote greater resources to prosecution of criminals who illegally possessed and used guns, violent crimes statistics were reduced significantly.
Finally, and most importantly, we need to accept responsibility for the problem of gun violence — and all other violence — in our nation. We, the citizens, are ultimately to blame. We are the ones who let our society become immersed in the culture of death. It is we who have allowed life to become cheap in our nation by legalizing abortion, offering free needles to drug addicts, denigrating the "old fashioned" family values, and normalizing all sorts of sexual immorality. It is we, the taxpayers, who have allowed the public school systems to become cesspools where alternative lifestyles are espoused and students are taught that the only values that count are the ones we create for ourselves. When we, the citizens, take responsibility for our own families — and begin once again to teach the difference between right and wrong — society will become less prone to violent acts of aggression.
One more point ought to be made. Even confirmed liberals can understand the logic of the popular bumper sticker that reads, "When we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." Liberals are not automatically stupid people. Why then, do they resist the logic, as well as the statistics?
We all understand that liberals (as well as many conservatives) use tax dollars to create pockets of dependency. If tax dollars are needed to enrich our lives, pay our doctor bills, keep us in work, or pay us when we don't work, we vote for the liberal politician. Perhaps liberals are seeking to create the biggest dependant class — all of us. Maybe society will be easier to control when all law-abiding citizens need protection from the criminal element, because the only people with legal weapons are those in uniform. Cradle-to-grave protection from violent crime is a promise government cannot keep, however, thereby putting a totally disarmed citizenry at greater risk.
I have a license to carry a concealed weapon. There are times when I carry a loaded gun. People have asked, reasonably, whether this is a responsible Christian behavior. I don't try to respond with a full-blown theology of gun ownership. I merely refer people to one chapter in God's Word: Nehemiah 4. Surrounded by hostile enemies, Nehemiah writes, "We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." After posting armed guards at strategic places along the wall, Nehemiah then exhorted his people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Violence results from sinfulness. It should be resisted. Families should be protected. At the same time evangelism should be viewed as a weapon more powerful than even guns and armor. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, "The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." God knows about the violence in our hearts. He knows our need for rescue. He has the answer. Ultimately, the only answer for violence with guns is the salvation which Jesus offers. It is no failure of trust in God, however, if we continue to protect our families from the violence around until such time as all our neighbors become brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Curt Lovelace
Curt Lovelace is a small town pastor and a student of history. He has finally moved to Maine where, when asked if he would like to declare a political affiliation on his voter registration card, he politely declined.