As news outlets continue reporting an evolving narrative of what happened in Uvalde, I keep thinking about the source. Guns. The shooter used a gun. If he didn’t have a gun, or had more trouble getting one, he could not have killed those children. If he had to steal the gun, then it seems more likely that authorities would be looking for him. Reducing the number of guns will reduce gun violence. Making it more difficult to obtain a gun will reduce gun violence.
Gun advocates suggest “hardening the targets” or argue for better mental health care. Consider this: if a person who struggles with mental illness, they will have more trouble killing people if they cannot get a gun.
No one needs a gun. Period.
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.Matthew 26.52
Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed about the need to replace secularism with faith. Okay, Newt. I’ll bite. Speak more of this faith you desire. He writes, “Swapping Isaiah for Freud and the Gospels for modern psychology has left a nation of empty souls – and a desperation for meaning.”
Guns & the Gospels
Yes! But have you actually read the gospels? The Jesus depicted in John reminds Pilate that we are resident aliens. Jesus’ kingdom is not synonymous with Rome (or the U.S.A.). In response to Pilate’s questions, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here’” (John 18.36).
If Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, then we who profess to follow Jesus cannot ascribe gospel inerrancy to the polis. The Second Amendment isn’t a gospel truth. The word in the gospels is aletheia, which can be accurately translated as ‘truth’. Martin Heidegger described it as ‘unconcealedness’. Having a gun or access to guns brings nothing to the world. It does not draw people closer to God, nor do most guns function as tools for a better life.
Living in a house with a gun increases your odds of dying. Handgun ownership is associated with higher rates of suicide. If you need more statistics, check out these additional gun violence statistics.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10.28
For those who want a gun for protection, we can turn to Matthew 10.28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Is this the kind of faith Newt wishes to see throughout the land? What about those who hit you? Jesus says to turn the other cheek (Luke 6.29). To his disciple Peter who wanted to take up arms to defend Jesus on the night of his arrest, Jesus said, “Put your sword away” (Matthew 26.52).
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with guns used for hunting. They should be registered and require a license to purchase (i.e., like a driver’s license or fishing or boating licenses). However, no one needs a handgun. No one needs an assault rifle. No one needs a high-capacity magazine. No private citizen needs a weapon of war.
Though the Bible is clear, “there is one lawgiver and judge” (James 4.12) and Christ-followers must not judge one another, I have trouble not judging people who claim to be a Christian and then advocate for gun access. To them, I say: show me where Jesus says to take up arms. Show me where Jesus tells his followers to defend themselves. I am on solid ground with this challenge because Jesus didn’t say those things. He said things like, “Love your neighbor… love your enemy… pray for those who persecute you…” Jesus was not an advocate for violence or hatred.
Why can’t the U.S.A. fix its gun violence epidemic?