Saving More Lives is a Terrible Reason to Ban Guns

Regulating evil is not justice.

June 12, 2016 was the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history and the worst terror attack since 9/11. And with that event have come the usual suspects.

In one corner is the conservative (ish) presidential hopeful who quickly placed the blame on immigration:

In the other is the liberal Christian pastor calling for more gun control:

I won't get into Trump's asinine comments because national security isn't worth selling our humanity, compassion, and soul. But John Pavlovitz not only called for stricter gun laws in his repost from last fall, he called out the condolences of dissenters as hollow.

Now I'm all for stricter gun laws to a certain extent. It's absurd that a motor vehicle license is more difficult to acquire than a weapon that has literally no other practical purpose beyond killing things. But blaming guns solely for mass shootings is how Brock Turner got away with a lenient sentence.

Like alcohol, guns are just another scapegoat we use to excuse the evil that people commit. In this case, the people we're protecting are Muslims. Most Americans can't tell the difference between them and the ISIS extremists who yell "Allahu Akbar", so it's a noble endeavor to redirect public outrage and avoid more senseless prejudice.

However, things don't make decisions, people do. Or as the tired adage goes, guns don't kill people, people do.

It's unfortunate that the Orlando shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS while shooting up that nightclub, but we can't pretend that holding a piece of metal is what sparked his hatred. He was a human being who attributed his actions to a religion and may have inadvertently clinched the presidency for a fear-mongering madman. No firearm on earth is capable of making a person commit either atrocity.

Liberals know this. It's not as though they don't understand how guns work. The problem is that their principles are based on quantifying life.

The simple fact that has liberals and many moderates rallied against guns is that they make death effortless and efficient in mass numbers. It took Jack the Ripper over two months to murder five women with a knife, but the Orlando shooter took the lives of fifty people in less than five minutes.

No one is arguing that guns aren't more dangerous than knives or rocks or other potentially lethal items. But what's interesting is that liberals seem less concerned about the crime itself as much as the scale.

If that doesn't seem inconsistent or at the very least ironic, it should. Liberals are the ones who push for rehabilitation, not incarceration. They're the ones fighting capital punishment with mental health programs. So it's odd that those who typically call for education and prevention are now calling for regulation. More to the point, it's hypocritical.

Banning guns is philosophically indistinguishable from closing our borders. Both regulate a product or service at the expense of lives and for the benefit of national security. Because banning guns won't keep people from killing each other any more than closed borders will keep terrorists out of our country. All they'll do is reduce crime to "reasonable" levels.

Ask Christina Grimmie's parents how reasonable their daughter's death was. She was only one person so they shouldn't be feeling their loss as deeply as the hundreds or parents affected by the Orlando shooting, right? As foolish as that sounds, it's no coincidence that the news has all but ignored her tragic death in the wake of Orlando.

Government officials, whether conservative or liberal, all quantify life. We're just numbers to them for various purposes from polls and taxes to policy and program reports. But if you're a Christian, you don't answer to human pragmatism, you answer to God.

And for whatever reason, God is more interested in redeeming humanity than regulating our persistent depravity. I don’t understand it because he could have stopped Orlando or 9/11 or even the Holocaust, but he didn’t. He willed that we would learn how to forge iron, mix gunpowder, and split atoms.

Perhaps fewer lives would have been lost had those advances not happened, but as a Christian, I trust that God is sovereign over those things. I trust that he’s wise enough to manage human history so that I can focus on being his witness and hopefully redeem some. That’s my role in his kingdom.

Because here's the ugly truth: we would all be safer if we had closed borders. Senegal escaped the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa for this very reason. And we would all be safer if we banned guns. Australia hasn't had a mass shooting since 1996 for this reason as well.

Being a Christian means pursuing justice, not safety. And there is no justice in regulations, as the Old Testament law demonstrated. Justice comes through redemption, not through curbing evil but through defeating it. More often than not, that will mean putting ourselves in harm's way as a minister rather than keeping danger at arm's length with a law. Just like Jesus did.

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  1. "Perhaps fewer lives would have been lost had those advances not happened, but as a Christian, I trust that God is sovereign over those things. I trust that he’s wise enough to manage human history so that I can focus on being his witness and hopefully redeem some. That’s my role in his kingdom."

    Is this not just an excuse not to take a stance?

    If Jesus is an advocate for non-violence, wouldn't choosing to limit access to automatic or semi-automatic firearms be the right thing to do? I have few-to-no issues with single-action hunting firearms, but firearms that have been developed seemingly for the sole purpose of ending human life comes across as wrong to me. I could be, and most likely am, wrong, but it's just a thought. Thanks for sharing your views though, I enjoy reading your posts.

    1. Thanks! It would probably be an excuse if I were more committed to it, but it's mostly fodder for thought. Sometimes I can't help poking holes in things.

      Jesus is always tough example in these situations because it's difficult to distinguish between the purpose of his coming and God's character. Meaning that Jesus didn't come as a political figure so he intentionally avoided the use of violence as that was how his followers wanted to enthrone him. Will he be so passive when he returns? I don't know. Not rhetorically, I honestly don't know how much of Revelation is figurative and future. That being said, I'm not convinced that Jesus' earthly passivity was representative of a divine attribute. The context is questionable at best and it lacks support throughout the rest of Scripture.

      Bear in mind I'm simply saying that to call Jesus an advocate of non-violence is dubious and post hoc-ish. Furthermore, the only way we could justify Christian support for gun regulations is if it was a matter of justice (I can think of no other precedent on which it could be made a priority). However, as this piece tries to process, I'm not convinced that justice is as simple as saving lives. I could be wrong, but Scripture alludes to a deeper purpose at work with God. Otherwise the flood, the Canaanites, the prophets of Baal. Lots of lost lives. God seems to spend them like nickels. I don't have a good answer for that, but I think it makes the point that God isn't as simple as anti-gun folks make him.


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