25 May 2022

Why the United States doesn’t control our guns.

I have friends outside the United States who look at our rampant gun violence, notice how our mass shootings even happen on a daily basis, and wonder why in God’s name we do nothing about it.

Two reasons. The first is Americans consider gun ownership a right. Not an option, not a privilege, a right. We even put it into our Constitution.

Y’see in the 1760s and ’70s, the British occupying forces tried to take Americans’ guns away lest we start a revolution. (’Cause we were gonna.) Once we Americans got our independence, we became fearful lest the Brits, or any other government, try to take us over, or go too far to curtail our liberties. So we made gun ownership the fourth article of the Bill of Rights, which became our Constitution’s second amendment.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Guns aren’t an obvious and inherent right. This is why the Congress had to spell out their justification for guns: If we’re gonna remain a free state, we need militia, armed civilians who can help our police and armed forces defend our homeland. Some folks assume our National Guard fulfills the role of a militia, but nope; guardsmen are part of the Army and Air Force, and not civilians. (As demonstrated whenever guardsmen are called in to stop civilian unrest.) The way we keep civilians at the ready, is we let ’em keep their guns. And make sure they know how to properly use ’em. So once people hear the British are coming—or the Soviets, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the terrorists, or whoever’s the boogeyman today—they can grab their rifles and fall in.

Thing is, we Americans tend to describe our rights as sacred and God-given. In other words holy. With all the other baggage which comes with civic idolatry.

Proper religion involves self-control, but civic idolatry means when we Americans get it into our heads that something’s a right, we treat it as an unlimited right. Zero control. No limits. Absolute.

Fr’instance freedom of speech. We treat it like we can say absolutely anything, no matter how offensive, profane, or seditious. And should be able to say anything, without any repercussions from our neighbors or employers. That’s why we’re often stunned when there are totally repercussions: We lose jobs, money, status, or relationships over the dumber things we say. But what’d people expect would happen? Freedom of speech only means government can’t censor or censure us. Everybody else can.

So that’s the very same way many an American gun nut looks at guns: The right to bear arms means we can own any gun we like, decked out with any accessories or ammunition we like, take it anywhere, and shoot anyone we perceive a threat. ’Cause it’s a right. Constitution says so, which makes it sacred.

Now read the second amendment again. It describes our American militia as well regulated. Is it? Not in the slightest. Largely it’s not regulated at all.

This is where the United States goes horribly wrong. If the amendment were scripture, we’d be guilty of taking it out of context. Our militia is unregulated, and whenever any politician tries to regulate it, the gun nuts scream tyranny. And the gun lobby has bought so many senators, nothing gets regulated. Nothing changes for the better. Hence the daily shootings.

Gun nuts.

I’m not a gun guy. Never owned one; never even fired one. I prefer archery. Bow and arrow’s an armament too, y’know.

I have no problem with the second amendment, nor the right to bear arms, nor private gun ownership. Want a gun to do a little hunting? Fine. Afraid of crime and feel you’d be more secure with a gun around? Go buy one. Of course, while you do these things, do make sure you learn gun maintenance, gun safety, and make absolutely sure your kids can’t get into the guns for fun.

This describes what I consider responsible gun ownership. There’s a big honking difference between this, and the gun nuts.

Responsible gun owners recognize guns are dangerous. They do their best to make sure these guns, in their hands, are as carefully controlled as possible. They’re thorough about gun safety. Careful and precise. Maintain their equipment. Follow the rules.

Gun nuts just want to shoot things. Ideally, people.

Don’t blame the guns for the gun nut mindset. If they didn’t have guns, they’d become nuts about some other lethal thing. They’d become crossbow nuts. Shuriken nuts. Flamethrower nuts. Because unlike responsible gun owners, these nuts might practice safety and security, and talk about fighting crime or defending the homeland… but let’s be bluntly honest. Gun nuts straight-up wanna murder someone.

But murder ’em legally. They’re looking for someone they can identify as “criminal”—and it’s legal to shoot criminals, isn’t it? Might be an actual criminal, like a burglar or mugger. Might be an ATF agent investigating their stockpile. Might be a black kid walking through their neighborhood at night. Whatever they feel comfortable with identifying as a perpetrator—and they dream of using their guns on a perpetrator. They ache for some fool to bust into their home, just so they can blow the dirtbag away. They pray for it. Not to God, for they know better. To their gun, maybe.

There’s this sitcom I used to watch back in the 1980s called Sledge Hammer! (exclamation point included). It’s a satire about a gun nut cop—named Sledge Hammer, of course. Sledge loved his gun, which he called his “amigo,” and frequently talked to it. He dreamed about using it on perps. The series is on DVD. They removed the laugh track, which isn’t always a smart idea, ’cause it’s way less funny than I remember. Since the time I used to watch it, I’ve met many a gun nut just like Sledge. They’re not funny either.

Gun nuts are the reason our Congress needs to pass gun laws. They’re also the reason Congress won’t. Gun manufacturers, recognizing gun nuts make up for way more than half the expensive gun purchases in this country, have put together one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the world: The National Rifle Association. Ostensibly a sportsmen’s lobby, it’s more accurately the gun nut lobby. ’Cause that’s who it panders to, and that’s what its leadership behaves like.

The NRA regularly buys contributes to political campaigns. Particularly the influential congressmen and senators. These politicans might claim their thoughts and prayers are with the victims of mass shooting after mass shooting… and maybe they truly are. But they likewise make sure no gun control laws pass, make sure existing laws expire, and thereby make sure the next mass shooting becomes inevitable and deadlier.

Congress largely left the gun laws to individual states and cities. Some of ’em, like my state California, have strong gun laws. But shootings happen here too. And the NRA regularly tries to abolish, or otherwise legally undermine, the state’s laws. Anything to sell more guns defend the second amendment.

The NRA and gun nuts have managed to convince a lot of responsible gun owners it’s only a matter of time before guns are banned altogether. So buy them while you can! And they try to perpetuate the myth that gun owners, both responsible and not, are the best defense of America’s freedoms: If only everyone carried a gun, like back in the wild west, it’d be the best defense against these daily mass shootings. Our armed populace, our Founders’ vision of a well regulated self-regulated militia, would gun these madmen down.

In real life? Doesn’t happen.

Unless they’re off-duty law enforcement or military, those who are carrying guns at the scene of any crime, because they lack training, consistently shoot bystanders and suspects instead of the actual perps. The urge to kill—plus adrenaline—outweighs good judgment and true public safety.

Gun nuts wanna perpetuate the myth of defending fellow Americans, but they never follow through. For that matter, it largely goes against their social-Darwinist values anyway. Why defend fools who didn’t bother to arm themselves? They’re looking out for number one.

Thus they’ve created the perfect environment for their vigilante fantasies: A nation with insufficient laws, where any madman can get access to a gun. But they have guns too! So it’s only a matter of time till the criminals try something… and they get to become Batman. Difference being that Batman, if you know your comic books, hates guns, and prefers krav maga and batarangs.

Gun bans? No; gun nut bans.

I have a lot of left-leaning friends who wanna ban guns altogether. Mostly that’s because they worry every gun owner is a gun nut, and it’s only a matter of time before they shoot people. Best to just take away every gun.

I agree with the responsible gun owners: That’s no solution. There are far more responsible gun owners than not. Just as there are far more responsible drivers than not, or far more responsible pit bull owners than not. We shouldn’t ban what can be a very good thing, for the sake of the few who abuse it.

Will there be fewer gun deaths if we ban all guns? Yes. Let’s not be naïve: Fewer guns means fewer gun deaths. Happens in every country which bans guns. And if they banned cars, they’d have fewer automobile accidents. Ban planes, no plane crashes. But come on: The benefits of cars and planes greatly outweigh the dangers, and with some effort we can greatly mitigate the dangers. True of guns too.

For guns, the real danger isn’t the gun itself. It’s the gun nut. Guns don’t kill people; gun nuts do. We don’t need to ban guns so much as keep them far out of the reach of not just criminals, but gun nuts.

Which the NRA will fight tooth and nail. Yet I still figure it’s the safest, most constitutional, and most realistic solution: License gun owners like we license drivers. Use that system to red-flag and weed out the gun nuts. We already deny guns to convicted felons; the argument is they lost that right through due process. Well, the licensing process is also a form of due process. If gun nuts won’t abide by it, they forfeit their own rights.

If the Congress won’t do it because they’ve been bought, the statehouses still can. If the NRA wants to take ’em to court, let them. More than likely the NRA will wind up trying to buy state representatives too—and I’m not naïve; they may succeed. It’ll be way more expensive than purchasing Congress, and oughta cripple the NRA’s budget. Can’t say I have a huge problem with that.

Wait, shouldn’t I espouse a Christian angle?…

Okay, thus far I’ve been discussing my personal political views about guns. Isn’t TXAB supposed to be a Christian blog? Yes it is. But when I express a political view, it’s one I try to base on my Christian beliefs as much as possible. Not on some political party or movement’s view; not on my knee-jerk reactions about gun ownership, whether I’m all for it or repelled by it.

A gun is a tool. It’s used to kill, but it’s still a tool. It can be used to prevent greater deaths, which is why American cops carry them. Since other countries’ police don’t carry them—and since American cops have a bad habit of using lethal force where it’s not at all warranted—it’s a very debatable argument, one which gun nuts wish we’d never, ever debate. But that’s a different discussion.

The gun nut’s usual argument is they should also have access to, and bear, these tools. The fact they fill an entire basement with such tools, kinda betrays the fact it’s not an honest argument on their part. It’s not about defending their neighbors and nation. It’s about indulging their total depravity. They think they’ve found a loophole in “Don’t murder,” Ex 20.13, Dt 5.17 and it’s their God-given right to practice murdery vengeance. Self-defense is their smokescreen. As is, in their hands, police defense, national defense, and border defense. You think they don’t vicariously love it whenever a Fed shoots someone? That’s their jam.

One needn’t own an arsenal to be a gun nut. Plenty of nuts own only one or two guns. Some own none, but love the idea they could buy a gun and blow away bad guys. After all, fantasizing about our sinful desires doesn’t necessarily commit the sin itself. But like Jesus indicated, it can be just as bad. Mt 5.22-23, 27-28 Just as destructive to our souls when we dwell upon the act instead of acting upon it.

This is why Jesus told Simon Peter that if one lives by the sword, they’ll perish by it. Mt 26.52 No, it doesn’t mean if we use a sword, we’re guaranteed to be stabbed someday. Nor if you’re a gun nut you’re destined to become a shooting statistic. Whenever Jesus refers to perishing (or as the NIV has it, dying), he’s nearly always talking about his kingdom… and those perishing outside it.

So you wanna get into God’s kingdom? You cannot be a gun nut.

Arguably that's exactly what Jesus's "live by the sword, die by the sword" statement is about. In his day, people lived for the idea of Messiah overthrowing their enemies. (Not his; theirs. Which they presumed were also his. Still do.) They looked forward to the day he’d violently smite them; they fantasized about what it might look like. If he let them, they’d totally volunteer to mete out some of that violence. Some of his followers still totally think this way, and man are their End Times video games disturbing.

This blood-lusting mindset is a work of the flesh. It's proof we want to indulge our selfish impulses towards satisfaction, vengeance, and wrath. It's proof our trust is in our guns and not our Lord. It’s a sign we fear our neighbors, not love them as ourselves. Mk 12.31 That we far prefer their destruction to their salvation. Which certainly doesn’t share any Holy Spirit-granted convictions whatsoever.

So, those Christians stockpiling guns for a potential End Times shootout? Yep, bad fruit. ’Cause for nearly all of them, it’s not about fighting evil, and never was. As Peter demonstrated when he tried to fight off the posse which came to arrest Jesus, Jn 18.10-11 it’s about rage and vengeance. It’s about seizing the power of life and death. Mostly death.

In a free society, people have the right to be stupid, and do stupid things. But it’s come at the cost of way too many human lives, so it’s about time we clamped down on this stupidity. Christians need to set aside their personal preferences about guns—and definitely their secret urges to abuse ’em—and choose life. It’s the side Jesus has taken. It should be the only side we’re on.