America's 9mm Heart Problem.

Growing up, I lived on a small farm complete with all sorts of tools for the trade. Wire cutters, come-alongs, pinch bars and wrenches. My father was very protective of his tools, and I was weaned onto them slowly, out of concern for myself and the equipment. I remember one day trying to use an adjustable wrench as a hammer, turning it sideways and striking a nail and then my finger. As I wailed in pain, my quick-to-respond-father snatched the Craftsman away from me, chiding, “See! I told you not to use it that way! If you can’t use it correctly, you won’t use it at all.” It was months before I was allowed anywhere near the toolbox. My view on guns has shifted over the years and, right now, is the same as my father’s for his tools, they're needed and necessary but improper use will get you barred.

Just like there are tools for the farm, there are tools to combat oppression.

I can’t imagine a society without the need for protecting innocents from violence, although I desperately want to. Why? Because I 100% believe there’s evil in this world. Years in journalism, decades in pastoral ministry and now serving as a Police Chaplain, have refined my understanding of good, bad and evil. And just like there are tools for the farm, there are tools to combat oppression. Even the anti-gun establishment doesn’t practice what it preaches. The irony in the March For Our Lives protest still makes me grin; armed police were protecting anti-gun protestors at rallies around the country. Let's admit it, as hard as it may be; guns are necessary, but there’s a growing number of people who are incapable of responsibly possessing a firearm. But this reality begs the question: Why? Why is this a mounting problem? Why does America seem to be losing its gourd over guns?

As I write, new information surfaces from the shooting of three employees at YouTube headquarters in California. California! One of two states, Connecticut being the second, with the strictest gun laws in the country. And even with these strict regulations, a seemingly disturbed woman did what’s becoming commonplace. She got a gun and started shooting. These events were rare when I was growing up. I never once went to school with the fear of being shot at, and guns were everywhere! So, even with strict gun laws, people in their dysfunction will find a way, wreaking havoc.

There are times when violence must be met with violence, as uncomfortable as this is for many to hear.

It’s myopic and naive to believe that if all guns were banned, all guns would disappear halting the violence. This thinking is in the same camp as unicorns and Leprechaun gold. There are times when violence must be met with violence, as uncomfortable as this is for many to hear. Serving as Police Chaplain I know of no officer wanting to discharge his firearm, but they will if they must. The liberation of concentration camp prisoners in World War II required the use of violence. The crucifixion of Jesus is evidence that love, yes even love, sometimes requires a violent act to overcome and defeat evil.

Protestors and counter protestors stand off in Centre Square, Easton, Pa during the March For Our Lives event on March 24, 2018 ©Peter Keady 2018 - All Rights Reserved

It comes down to this, banning guns may resolve the issue temporarily, but it won’t solve the problem. It’s like putting new tires on a misaligned car. Eventually, you’re right back to where you started, and possibly worse. And, then there’s that ubiquitous little document called the Constitution and all those subsequent amendments in place for a reason, keeping checks on oppression and tyranny. “Malarky!” you say? “Australia did it!” you scream. But not so fast. We're in America, not Australia, a completely different cultural attitude and history regarding guns. I suggest you check out the recent NY Times article wonderfully dismantling this oft-heard argument. It’s titled, Australia’s Gun Laws Are Not a Model for America, and guess what, it’s written by an Australian!

When people are unable to defend themselves, which is an individual’s right, the propensity for oppression multiplies. The Bill of Rights were enumerated, specifically, so there wouldn’t be a misunderstanding on specific topics. The Amendments cover overarching principles, not cultural specifics. Why, suddenly, would the Second Amendment be outdated in 2018 but the remaining 26 still valid? Is the Second Amendment the awkward child of the Constitution? I think not. But America’s sickness creates a bullseye on the right to bear arms unjustly.

Granted, some Americans worship at the altar of firearms - acolytes of Smith and Wesson and Remington. On the flip side, many choose to ignore the lessons of history while marginalizing the foundational documents of our country. Both are misguided and ill-focused.

So, what’s the answer? It’s not simple. It isn’t banning firearms nor allowing unrestricted access to any and every gun and accessory we can dream up. It is, in my opinion, the caring for and healing of broken hearts with a more effectual God than the Second Amendment. And it isn’t sliding into humanistic socialism with the relinquishing of individual rights in the name of security. In Jesus, we’re called to surrender ourselves to Him while loving others authentically, just as we love ourselves. But we hate ourselves; what we are, what we aren’t; constantly comparing. Humanistic wisdom won’t solve this deeply embedded bullet of personal pain and egoistic pride. Only faith in a loving God moved to action in loving others will. Only loving God and loving people can rescue America from its 9mm heart problem.

For an excellent article on the same topic from a different perspective, please check out Dr. Michael Pittaro’s recently published work, A Theoretical Explanation for the Increase in School Shootings.

For some interesting statistics on America’s gun infatuation, check out this link, Gun Ownership in America in Three Charts.