"People who we know have been on ISIL websites, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines but because of the National Rifle Association I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun. This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer, and if he wants to walk into a gun store or gun show right now and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who he is. So sir, I just have to say respectfully, that there is a way for us to have common sense gun laws."
Millions of Americans worship the gun. Guns are used in a state of sobriety and drunkenness, by the young and old, the rich and poor — regardless of race, age, gender, or demographic. Guns are sold, traded, gifted, stolen, and smuggled — but rarely destroyed. They are kept, reused, and invested in. Many increase in value over time.
They are adored and idolized for being able to wipe away someone’s existence in a matter of seconds — which is exactly what happens. No matter what the conflict, its existence is lurking in the background — close, handy, and accessible. A source of indisputable power.
This is why many Americans — and Christians — trust more in the gun than they do in Christianity. Jesus didn’t use weapons to kill others or as a method of getting his way. Instead, Christ’s nonviolent humble love for humanity caused him to get crucified on a cross. Very un-American.
Without his community of his sisters and family, who have been mourning his death and questioning God for not saving their brother and friend, Lazarus would remain entombed. Without community, we remain bound and entombed. I’m not saying that our actions are as great as Jesus raising someone from the dead. But I am saying that God entrusts us with living into community, so that we may welcome our brothers and sisters out of death and into life.
The first lady of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church offered two enduring images: her late husband’s smiling face lying in a casket, and the bullet holes that riddled the church walls when she went to clean out his office a week later. “Clementa was a peaceful person,” said Jennifer Pinckney, the widow of the late preacher and South Carolina state senator Clementa Pinckney, during a visit to Duke University to talk about gun control, race, and faith.
AFTER MASS a few months ago, I asked a member of my parish how her search for a new apartment was going. She said, “I’m so scared where I’m living right now that I went out and bought a gun.”
I was shocked. “I hope you didn’t buy any bullets to go with it,” I quipped. She gave me an eye-roll; I gave her a hug.
Like many Americans (dare I say most)—from President Obama on over—I despair of our country ever regaining sensible gun-ownership standards.
If I had my way, society would have no guns. Period. My motto is: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is ... the unarmed cross of Jesus Christ.
However, I recognize that in rural areas a gun can be a tool for wildlife maintenance.
I recognize that a well-ordered society relegates certain uses of force to the state—generally understood as police and military—for the protection of its members, especially the vulnerable.
I recognize that the U.S. Constitution has a Second Amendment—controversial as it may be—that allows for people to “keep and bear arms” (in the context of a “well-regulated militia” that was deemed “necessary to the security of a free state”). It’s a system of checks and balances built into our democracy’s operating manual.
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No guns, no gun deaths. That was the mantra ingrained in me from a young age. It is the line that runs through my head when I read reports stating that around 3,000 of the more than 30,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. each year are of children. In 2015, 265 minors were responsible for accidental gun shootings and 83 of these children killed someone, often because they found a loaded gun in the house and were curious.