There’s been another shooting in America recently, and one that’s generated a fair amount of media interest. The exact details change each time, but there are patterns to the responses.
Some people will say that we can reduce gun violence by reducing the number of people with guns.
Some people will offer thoughts and prayers for the deceased and their families. Many of them won’t say anything about trying to prevent gun violence in the future.
Some people will say that we can reduce gun violence by increasing the number of guns people own.
Some people will say that we can’t stop people from attempting violence, but we can make violent incidents have fewer fatalities by making sure the people who perpetrate violence don’t have guns.
Some people will say that we should “focus more” on mental health, without ever really saying what that means or how “we” should do it.
Some people will cite statistics that they claim show a correlation between places with stronger gun laws and places with fewer gun homicides.
Some people will point out that while the NRA currently opposes any additional gun legislation, they originally supported gun legislation in order to prevent non-white people from having guns.1
Some people will cite statistics that they claim show a correlation between places with more guns and places with fewer gun homicides.
Some people will talk about “good guys” stopping “bad guys”, without ever spending much time talking about what they mean by “bad guy”, or how to tell whether someone with a gun is a “good guy” or a “bad guy”.2
Some people will commit idolatry by making “liberty” into an idol, even going so far as to talk about sacrifices needing to be made at its altar to keep the country prosperous, or to maintain “liberty” itself.
Gun (and ammo) sales will go up.
A lot of people will commit ad hominem, and a lot of people will throw around the words “terrorist” and “terrorism”—though which “lot of people” depends a lot on the circumstances of the shooting.
Almost everyone will fail at statistics and data analysis.
No one will argue over the placement of commas.
No one will particularly ask me what I think. Why would they? I’m not exactly a policy expert or a lawyer. But I just have some observations:
The sword in Rome was pretty much the equivalent to a gun now: while some people used it for sport, the primary purpose of a sword was for killing. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” A great deal of ink has been put to paper in the last two thousand years trying to decipher what Jesus actually meant and the theological implications therein.
If there had been a gun and ammo in my house when I was in high school, I think that most likely I would be dead today.3
The word that intrigues me the most in the Second Amendment is “arms”. Strictly speaking, tactical nuclear weapons are “arms”—are they covered by the Second Amendment? If not, that means that there must be a line that is drawn between arms that are covered and arms that are not covered; what is that line, and why does no one seem to discuss it?4
When there were altercations between police and protesters in Ferguson in 2014, I wondered what effect it would have if the protesters had guns—though I never saw the NRA or any other organization advocating for it. Also, what would the police’s response to seeing protesters with guns have been?
Much of the theatre what passes for political debate in this country tends to ignore the future implications of policy in the light of obvious technologies.5
I originally started writing this several months before I posted it; that was how sure another mass shooting would occur in America.
They also tend to ignore the theological implications of classifying people as inherently evil, along with ignoring a common Christian theological point that all people are inherently sinful—that is, “bad guys”. ↩
In the few instances I’ve pointed this out to people, it’s always elicited surprise, even from people whom I’ve told that I half-heartedly attempted suicide in high school. ↩
I once had a discussion with someone about this issue, and he told me that he thought tactical nuclear weapons were, in fact, covered by the Second Amendment, and he had no issues whatsoever with his downstairs neighbor owning one. ↩
The first obvious one that comes to mind is drones. Are drones “arms”, especially with how easy it is to turn one either into a mobile bomb or, potentially, a flying gun? The second, and more problematic, is the advent of 3D printing. With a sophisticated enough 3D printer, one could quite easily manufacture guns in the comfort of one’s own home; this essentially means that anyone and everyone will—like it or not—be able to own a military-grade gun without having to go through any legal procedure. Obviously, the technology is still in its infancy, and the full discernment of where 3D printers end up is difficult, but it’s something to keep in mind when discussing policy implications. ↩