With the beginning of what seems to be a trend of gun violence, many schools, churches, and other places designated “Gun Free Zones” are attempting to create counter measures for what increasingly seems to be the inevitability of future attacks. As a pastor, father, husband, and teacher I feel the constant responsibility to not only provide spiritual guidance and leadership, but also a safe learning environment for those under my charge. The problem being that, like schools, churches and other Gun Free Zones are the most likely targets being that they offer the least resistance to the would-be murderer.
I and others have taken measures to educate ourselves on how to properly handle such a horrific event and the possible aftermath. I have even gone through training specifically for places of worship on this very topic at our local police academy. The biggest concern is not if these events will repeat themselves, but where, when, and what to do if they occur in my church.
Time Magazine's most recent cover story deals with this issue directly. It sites many statistics on American attitudes towards guns as well as several quotes from those individuals dedicated to stopping this kind of violence. The article highlights the efforts of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Vice President Joe Biden, and Former Representative and shooting survivor, Gabby Giffords. Each individual lays out their concerns about the ease of access to guns and the increase of such shootings in recent years.
Their plan is to start a grassroots effort to hinder these individuals from being able to own or gain access to firearms. This does not mean the wholesale removal of firearms, just those firearms that are considered to be assault rifles. They are also pushing to limit the amount of ammo an individual can purchase and stop the sale of high capacity magazines (defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds). The argument they bring is that if such restrictions are enacted, such crimes will go down...but I have my doubts.
Through much study, research, and time I have come up with a simple solution: Rather than making it illegal for law abiding citizens to own such weapons, thereby trampling their constitutional rights, why don't we just make it illegal to murder people? Problem solved.
Wait...this just in...it is illegal to murder people. So what we are led to believe is that people who are doing illegal things are going to not do illegal things if we make more of the things they are doing illegal? Makes sense...no wait, it doesn't.
If we begin the process of making it illegal for the average citizen to own a firearm, it will make it easier for murderers to murder innocent people. Consider the facts. If your goal is to kill as many people as possible before either being caught or killed yourself, where would you go? Obviously, a school. Blood thirsty sick people murder people who are unarmed and seemingly helpless. This is why women are the major target for thefts and why schools are easy targets for killing sprees. Murderers of this type do not walk into police stations where the average man and/or woman is trained and armed, they walk into movie theaters and classrooms where the victims are taken by surprise and definitely unarmed.
The real solution is to strictly enforcing the laws currently on the books, not adding more. Why don't we bring the brunt of our justice system down on felons who illegally purchase guns as well as those who sell to them? Why do gun dealers who sell weapons and ammo under the table illegally end up serving little, if any time, in prison? Why does a kid caught with marijuana spend more time in jail than a felon caught with a firearm? Why did the current administration allow assault weapons to leave our country illegally during the “Fast and Furious” scandal? Why? Why? Why? We have plenty of laws to stop such gun violence; the real problem is that we are not enforcing them.
Maybe the government should save us from ourselves. Let me ask you this...
Did you know that 1 in 320,000 rock climbs result in death? Should we restrict rock climbing only mountains of say 100 feet high? How about limit rock climbing only to rocks that have a big pillow at the bottom?
Did you know that in 2010 alone there were 52,000 bicycle related injuries? Should we restrict bicycles? How about this...at the very least let's add a law that requires training wheels?
Did you know that the CDC says that there are on average around 36,000 flu deaths every year? Should we stop people from going outside during flu season? How about we at least make everyone wear masks? It's really for our own good.
Did you know that between the years 2000 and 2004, cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke resulted in at least 443,000 premature deaths and approximately $96.8 billion in productivity losses annually in the United States? Should we just make smoking illegal? While were at it, let's outlaw soda and potato chips as well. When does it stop?
The reality is that limits on guns, ammo, or magazines does not stop crime. There is no evidence to back such a claim. The anti-gun advocate would say, “Yes, but rock climbing and potato chips don't kill other people.” Consider this, prior to1889 there was not a single drunk driver related death or any automobile related death for that matter. Do you know why? There were no automobiles. So the logic follows that if all guns disappeared right now you would see an instant drop in gun crime. Maybe we could limit ownership of automobiles to only those cars that drive less than 20 miles per hour. We already require seat belts, why not require five-point harnesses? What if the government devised a plan to create an entire transit system that would be highly inconvenient, costly, and ultra restrictive, but provide everyone with some form of transportation, should we outlaw or limit the ownership of automobiles? Of course not. If you take the gun from felon's hand, he fills it with a knife or a baseball bat. If you outlaw knives and baseball bats, then he fills his hand with a big rock. When does it end?
We live in a free society, yet because handguns can kill, we think that more restrictions is the answer. This is just another case of the government trying to protect us from ourselves, which is unconstitutional. The laws our forefathers put to paper after a bloody battle with the British were created to limit the government's control of us, the citizen, not the other way around. The federal government should be looking for ways to give us more freedom, not contrive ways to restrict us more. Living in a free society doesn't mean much if you are not free and being free has consequences, but I and many other Americans who value their freedom are happy and willing to take the risk.
So tonight, in honor of the freedom that our forefathers (with unregistered guns mind you) fought and died for, I am going to drive home in my 16 mpg vehicle, eat a cheese burger with bacon, read my bible (while drinking a beer), pray, clean my AR-15, smoke a cigar, and argue with my dad about politics all because, the way things are going, any one of these rights could be restricted or taken away from me in the near future.