The Real Answer to Gun Violence in AmericaMass shootings, gun control, and the only answer that makes sense
Have you ever posted something on Facebook and immediately regretted it? That was me today. First a little background might help. It’s been four days since the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas where an older man unleashed a torrent of fire on an outdoor country music festival crowd. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people and injured more than 500 with several semi-automatic weapons. It’s a horrible tragedy and I can’t imagine what the families of the deceased and injured are thinking. The problem is that this is nothing new for America. We have mass shootings every day now – more than every day on average. The news that some gunman (nearly always a male) has taken up arms and slaughtered his fellow man is almost common place. Now, you only hear about the worst cases on national news, and they always spark a “national conversation” about gun violence. Should we ban guns? Should we just ban semi-automatic rifles? What about the 2nd Amendment? The debate is fierce and personal. In the midst of this, I read an article about the history of the NRA and how they are stoking the fires of gun owners in the United States. Now, 3% of the US population owners 50% of the guns. I found that information, along with some interesting legal background on the 2nd Amendment, good enough that I posted the article on Facebook. Big mistake. Almost immediately, the comments started and the argument began. Over the past year, I’ve done my level best not to post political articles on Facebook. It only leads to argument and problems with “friends” shouting declarations at each other and no one learning anything. I don’t know whether I forgot or convinced myself that this time would be different, but my post was not helpful to anyone. The more I thought about it, I realized that our gun debate doesn’t get to the real issue. I personally don’t think the weapons should be sold, but these mass murderers are the real problem. It really is people who kill people. From a policy stand point, that’s not very satisfying. You want to do something to stop this from happening again and again, and gun control seems like a good start. You want to do something, anything. I think that desire is noble. But, it’s never going to be enough. On the other side, just recognizing that humans are sinful and these things will happen even if we ban guns is both true and unhelpful. The real truth is that these men, these mass murderers needed to know Jesus. They needed community with believers who loved Jesus. They needed God’s presence and peace on their lives. With God’s hand on Paddock’s life, the shooting in Las Vegas wouldn’t happen. That’s why it’s the responsibility of every Christian to take the words of Jesus seriously. We are to love others as Jesus loves them (John 15:2). We are to go out and make disciples (Matt 28:19), and tell the good news of what Jesus has done in our lives (Mark 16:15). How different would Stephen Paddock’s life have been if he was in a loving community of believers? We don’t get to know. We can do everything we can to prevent the next Paddock though, by going out and loving our neighbors. If not us, then who will go? If we don’t love them, preach the Gospel to them, and build up Christ-centered communities, then who will? (Romans 10:14) It’s up to us Christians to take our mission seriously and get out in the world with prayer and conviction that the Gospel is one that saves. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty convicted right now.