No guns

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, NRSV

The National Institute of Justice reports, “In 2005, 11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm. Most murders in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns.”

I don’t like guns. I admit it. They are made for killing, and I can confidently state that God does NOT want us to kill one another – thus the commandment in the Torah, “You shall not murder.”[1] I have friends who are gun owners and have their own, reasoned, arguments and I know mine is a controversial position… but I believe in strict gun control. I’ve heard all of the arguments for owning guns and some of them are at least logical. Others are not.[2]

One argument for gun ownership is the Constitution. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution says, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Somehow that little piece about a well regulated militia is ignored by the National Rifle Association and other U.S. citizens who insist on their right to own guns. We have local police forces and the National Guard, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. We don’t need militias. The Second Amendment doesn’t speak to the right of individuals to carry firearms.

I’ve also heard the argument that taking guns away from the citizenry is often the first move toward a totalitarian government. I don’t buy it. It’s a hollow argument designed to trigger fear and an emotional reaction but has no real substance. Yes, the Nazis took away guns, but so did England and Canada and they are hardly totalitarian states.

These are some recent headlines in local newspapers (the Long Beach Press Telegram and Los Angeles Times):

  • Man found shot in Long Beach street dies (May 7, 2012)
  • Norwalk man shot chasing after burglary suspects (May 17, 2012)
  • Man shot after reportedly pulling a gun on Long Beach officer during traffic stop (May 18, 2012)
  • Man found in Hawaiian Gardens liquor store refrigerator killed by gunshot wound to the head (May 22, 2012)
  • Deputies fired on while serving warrant in Wilmington (May 25, 2012)
  • One man slain, another wounded in shooting outside barbershop (May 27, 2012)
  • Shooting of 2 cyclists in Koreatown remains a mystery (May 28, 2012)

Firearms aren’t the only means of inflicting harm on another person. There are plenty of gruesome stories about people being stabbed or bludgeoned or run over by cars, but except for the latter they all require close contact. I might have a chance to run from someone with a knife or a baseball bat but it would be a lot tougher to run from someone with a gun.

[1] Exodus 20:13, NRSV.

[2] I know that there are people who use rifles and shotguns to hunt. I don’t have an answer for those who hunt food.


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