It does not take much to set us off. With every news cycle that includes a mass shooting we hear the pundits and the prophets hit the airwaves to stir the pot of dissension that is the national debate on guns.
I had purposed to let this blog go out during a lull in the violence so that it would not appear to be just another knee-jerk reaction, but this week we heard the report of an unhinged man entering the offices of a Maryland newspaper and using a shotgun to indiscriminately murder five people. So there may not be much of a lull between these incidents in the future. Welcome to the America where life is cheap and where the inevitable results of the choices and decisions we have sown are being harvested before our eyes.
Like so many of the social issues dominating the cultural landscape, the gun debate is mostly the playground of those who populate the extremes. They are loud, they are intolerant of even the slightest hint of compromise, and they seem to attract cameras in a way that the more reasoned cannot hope to accomplish. As a man who values life and who also owns guns, I find myself in the middle of the debate, and it feels much like walking the dusty street of an Old West ghost town. There are not many people around here.
The NRA has made itself an easy target with their fierce and well-funded opposition to anything that hints at an intrusion into their 2nd Amendment rights. I understand why they take this posture even if I do not agree with all of their methods and points. Just like with the issues of abortion and gay rights, the opposition to these initiatives fear the slippery slope. There is certainly a give-an-inch, take-a-mile strategy out there and it is often deployed successfully. The gay agenda began with “tolerance”, then it was civil unions, then it was gay marriage, then full social and legal equality, and now they howl if they are not celebrated as courageous heroes overcoming gross injustice. In the abortion debate, those who passionately believe that life begins at the moment of conception have done all they can to chip away at Roe by flooding the courts with stipulations, limitations, time limits and lawsuits that have certainly made obtaining an abortion much more of a challenge.
In the same way, those who love their guns are fearful of any legislation that will simply be mud on their boots on a wet incline. They are not so fearful of the first limitation, but of the fact that gun rights opponents will assuredly not stop there.
But, in a rare show of common sense (if I may say so myself), I have thought to put down here in this arena, a policy that I hope will maybe move the needle ever so slightly towards sanity. Here are a few things that should be enacted:
A NATIONAL DATABASE CHECK. An one-stop shop; a site administered by the federal government that gains the participation and comprehensive contributions of all fifty states, local law enforcement, the FBI, ICE, Interpol and can be accessed quickly by legal firearms dealers without cost, lag or complications. There should be a permanent list of citizens no longer allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, and those who have had this right temporarily suspended due to a set number of reasons.
A 5-DAY WAITING PERIOD. It does not unduly inconvenience me to pick out a firearm, endure a background check, purchase the firearm and return five days later to pick it up. This simple measure would likely save lives. Emotions can blind people, and a reactive and impulsive firearm purchase is never a good idea. A few days mandated to wait and consider will not hurt anyone, and it will likely help someone….and that someone might be someone you love.
STANDARDS OF SAFE STORAGE OF FIREARMS AND PUNISHMENT OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP FIREARMS SAFE FROM KIDS OR FROM THEFT. If you purchase a firearm, you assume a serious legal responsibility and both a civil and legal liability. There is no one debating that firearms should be inaccessible to kids, and that firearms should be securely stored against theft. Many firearms used in lethal criminal activity were stolen from the one who legally purchased the firearm, yet did not store it securely. There is no excuse. Wear it, lock it up, or face criminal charges.
MUST BE AT LEAST 21-YEARS OF AGE TO PURCHASE A FIREARM OF ANY KIND. This just sounds like common sense. The only time a person under 21 needs to hold a firearm is if they are hunting with a parent or legal guardian, but to sell firearms to those under 21 should be illegal, in all fifty states.
MANDATE CERTIFICATION AS AN ADULT WHEN A JUVENILE COMMITS A CRIME WITH A FIREARM. That’s right. If a juvenile is caught with a firearm, or commits a crime using a firearm, they should be treated like an adult and face the punishment that an adult would face. Then, trace the weapon to the registered owner if possible and investigate how a juvenile could have obtained the weapon. Prosecute the rightful owner if it is found that they were negligent in not safely securing the firearm.
There are many other issues surrounding gun control, like the fact that almost every school shooter since the two that assaulted Columbine were under the influence of psychotropic drugs. Most of these drugs have listed side effects that should not leave us wondering why these kids would commit such heinous acts. In addition, most teen boys have already killed thousands of pixelated humans before they walk into a school and kill a flesh and blood human. Along with rampant abortion, we have created a culture where life is cheap and expendable, and our kids have grown up awash in such a society.
In the end, the ultimate answer leads us back to the issue of sin and the utter depravity of man outside of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. Each of us hold within ourselves the potential to commit every horrific act imaginable, so judgement is not a healthy response. Throwing accusations at those who do not hold to your view is also very counterproductive. Listening, acknowledging, and considering new ideas is both productive and respectful.
I believe in the right to bear arms, and I fervently pray that I will never be in a position to point a firearm at another human being with lethal intent. I know that I may save the life of an innocent, but I will cease another life and never escape the emotional pain of my action.
In conclusion, I hold the deepest respect for those scarred physically or emotionally due to gun violence, and will listen to your pain, and consider your words carefully. CW