Friday, December 28, 2012

What Weapon Would Jesus Approve?

Ancient sword

1795 Springfield rifle

Modern Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle
"Put away your sword, 
for those who take up the sword 
will perish by the sword."        
(Matthew 26:52)

"The fairest weapon in the land
 is the plow in the farmer's hand."  
(old Anabaptist saying)

One tongue-in-cheek proposal I ran across recently to help curb the growing epidemic of gun violence is to allow ownership of only the kinds of weapons the founders had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. This should please those who favor the strictest possible interpretation of the Constitution as well as help satisfy those who want guns for hunting and self defense.

Seriously, it is doubtful that the founding fathers ever meant for ordinary citizens to bear semi-automatic Bushmasters with clips containing 100 rounds of ammunition. There just is no way they could have anticipated today’s super efficient killing machines, nor could they have imagined the nation ever earning the distinction of having the highest murder rate of any industrialized (not to be confused with civilized) nation in the world.

 As it turns out, the US also has the highest total number of guns of any nation, a total of 310 million, which represents half the total number of guns in existence, owned by just 5% of the world’s population. This is more than enough to arm every able bodied American from fledgling first graders to aging grandmothers.

Meanwhile, while US crime rates have gone down, crimes committed with guns have increased, resulting in 32,000 deaths and 100,000 gun-related injuries a year (including suicides). If this trend continues there will more deaths from gun shots by the year 2015 than from automobile accidents. And there would be far more fatalities yet if it weren’t for the fact that medical professionals have become ever better at treating the wounded.

ABC News website
According to data compiled by the United Nations, the United States has four times as many gun-related homicides per capita as do Turkey and Switzerland, which are tied for third. And the U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average of the other G-8 countries on the chart above. That means that Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than in these other developed countries.

In spite of this, just a week ago the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre issued the organization’s first public statement since the Newtown shooting, railing against schools being designated as gun-free zones, and insisting that having even more guns, including in schools, is the answer.

While LaPierre was speaking, and while still more residents of Newtown were burying their dead, there was another multiple shooting going on in Blair County, Pennsylvania. That tragedy involved a handgun shooting of two men and a woman (the latter in a church). The shooter then injured three patrol officers before turning the gun on himself.

When it comes to reducing such tragedies, I know there are numerous problems that need to be addressed besides regulating guns, but all too easy access to all too many firearms loaded with far too much ammunition is surely a major part of the problem.

As to armed civilians helping stop armed killers, according to Mother Jones Magazine, in the 62 mass-murder cases over the past 30 years, not one was stopped by an armed civilian. A sheriff’s deputy at Columbine High School in 1999 fired at one of the two killers while 11 of their 13 victims were still alive. He missed four times.

There are no easy answers, but we must do something to stem our epidemic of gun violence.

See also,
and local musician Doug Hendron's latest song, "Too Many Guns"
Post a Comment