16

Why Gun Control is Not the Answer

In 2012 America saw some of the worst mass shootings in the history of the country — the massacre at Oikos University in Oakland, California, the tragic shooting in an Aurora, Colorado theatre, the more recent heartbreaking incident in Newtown, Connecticut, and subsequent string of shootings which have erupted since. Understandably, people are asking questions about how to prevent these incidents in the future.

Some think they have found the answer. For decades there have existed political groups and individuals who hold the belief that guns are the real problem behind gun violence in the United States. Whether through increased gun control or the outright banning of personal possession of firearms, these people have decided that removing guns will end gun violence, and this view has now grown in popularity.

As popular celebrities passionately call for changes in our nation’s gun laws through viral videos and social media, impressionable young people are rallied to the cause in great numbers. Surely these people are acting upon true feelings of pity and humanity, but are they really working towards a goal which will solve the problem?

Secularist views hold that man is inherently good, but often faced with circumstances that render him incapable of doing any good. When being labeled a ‘victim of circumstance’ becomes common, it is not a difficult step to wrongly place the blame, in whole or in part, on the circumstance, in this case, the guns. Of course, strict gun control at first seems like a simple and logical solution — in order to prevent the ‘end’, remove the ‘means’ — and there are statistics both ways. Some show that tighter gun control reduces tragedies, others show that it does not. Some argue that the evidence is clear that tighter control reduces violence, others argue that it is not clear because there are other factors to consider or different windows of time to study.

It is also not solely the ‘victim’ mentality which has contributed to gun violence and general increase in crime over the past decades in this country. There has also been a steady disappearance of Christian morals. As America has let go of its Judeo-Christian traditions, Americans have lowered their moral standards in almost every aspect of personal and public life; the value of human life has been no exception.

For example, as our moral standards have been reduced, we are producing, purchasing, and pleading for violent television shows, horror movies, and dark video games, which, however subtly, are distorting this nation’s view on the value of human life. When we align violence in its various forms with modern entertainment and thrills, how can anyone be surprised when people act out this violence in real life?

Should we then seek to control or ban electronic media in order to stop violence? Where ought we ultimately land the blame? These technological tools are a means by which the sinfulness of our fallen human nature manifests itself.

If there is any attainable solution to the problem of rising violence in the United States, we cannot ignore that it centers on our fallen human nature. Through a return to even the most basic Christian morals, which had been a part of this American culture for centuries, perhaps we will see violence against human beings, in all its forms, significantly decrease. But such a return to these morals will not be easy. It will require political leadership which has the courage and wisdom to bring about changes in this country’s laws regarding the protection of human life, including in the womb. It will require changes in the public education system. Most of all, it will require a change of heart in Americans, something laws and controls cannot enforce.


Thomas Whittaker is a Political Science student at Grove City College. He is minoring in National Security and Sociology. Thomas enjoys reading, running, and languages. Thomas’ favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and St. Thomas Aquinas.
  • goral

    A shallow, secularist culture will instinctively reach for the shallow, secularist solution first and end at that. Those of us old enough to remember when common sense was common in the public sphere still long for a sensible response. We won’t find it. We’re dealing with people who know less than little.

    The words of Wislawa Szymborska apply also to our place in time.

    Those who knew
    what this was all about
    must make way for those
    who know little.
    And less than that.
    And at last nothing less than nothing.

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    I read here “Secularist views hold that man is inherently good”. St Thomas Aquinas, who is one of Mr Whittaker’s favourite authors, also held the same view, as did the writer of 1 Timothy – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving (1Ti 4:4 NRS) .

    If there is a lowering of respect for human life, it seems obvious that gun ownership should be controlled.

    • Perhaps you misunderstood my language – When I say that ‘man is inherently bad’, I am refering to his concupiscence (inclination to sin). This is a Catholic teaching which was one of St. Thomas Aquinas’ most fundamental beliefs.

      With all due respect Mr. Fitzpatrick, did you read the verses preceding
      1Ti 4:4?

      “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving;.” (1Ti 4:1-4 NRS)

      Contextually, St. Paul is talking about marriage and food. Not man.

      Also, take a look at these other verses from good old St. Paul. 🙂

      Romans 5:12
      Romans 8:18-20

  • I am very ambivalent about guns. I believe in a well-armed militia, support hunting, and recognize that some people have a need to defend themselves. But as Christians our faith is our shield, and we have the warning of our Lord that “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.” I personally do not own a gun and would not want one in the house. I would support a buyback program as was apparently successful in Australia some years ago. But the U.S. is not Australia and I fear that Americans would resist turning in their weapons. As with everything, the Church’s mission of conversion and making disciples one at a time seems to be the only way to change the culture.

    • Mary Kochan
      • goral

        Her life is saved and our kids lives are saved, said the father.
        The issue is just this straightforward.
        Happy New Year to this family that could have had a very tragic one.

        A most timely post, Mary, right from your backyard.

    • Mary Kochan

      PrairieHawk, how does one ever know in advance whether he or she would have a need for self-defense? I can understand making an in advance decision that you will not defend yourself. Radical pacifism is an honored part of Christian spirituality. BUT what about the parent who believes it is a moral obligation to defend home and family? That is also a valid strain of Christian thought.

      • I know what you’re saying because I am troubled by it. There are times when we have the duty to defend the innocent. I think the answer is, this is a deeply personal question, in the true sense of “personal”: that is, of the person. I am not married and have no family. I detest violence and I dislike guns, whose only purpose is to kill. I do not want one and I am prepared to accept the consequences should a murderer ever descend upon me. God has protected me from many things in the past and he would either protect me, or not, from the murderer. In either case God’s will would be done.

        I am glad the woman in that story was armed and was able to resist the bad guy. He got what he deserved. I also wonder, though, would training in the martial arts have been sufficient to protect her and her family? Do we need to jump to lethal force first off in the face of a home invasion?

        In December 1989, when I was 20, I visited Berlin, Germany with my family. It was a few days after the wall opened, and we were really fortunate in the timing. I have a photograph of myself chipping with a hammer at the Berlin wall. There were many people with me, and as we chipped, the heavily-armed East German border guards, who were still on duty, patrolled the wall with a scowl at all of us. If there had been weapons in the hands of the German citizens, there would have been a bloodbath. The guards were hated, having shot many innocent East Germans seeking freedom. But we, myself and the Germans chipping at the wall, had something more powerful: the Truth. We were right, the Wall was an abomination, and the border guards were powerless under the scrutiny of international media.

        Who is not afraid to be defended solely by the Truth? Maybe this isn’t something for everyone, but I also believe we need to call people to their highest selves. We only get one chance at life. If it’s cut short, but we live so as to deserve the highest honor, have we really lost?

        • Mary Kochan

          Pray for me then, PrairieHawk to have your settled confidence in God’s help. Thank you for being here and for your thoughtful words; they are always a blessing to me and to us all.

          • Thank you, Mary, for your very kind words.

    • GuitarGramma

      Dear PrairieHawk,
      It’s interesting that you mention the Australian buyback program for firearms in Australia. I actually lived just outside Sydney when the program went into effect. I have a few thoughts to share with you, after which I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not it was successful.
      First, it is true that many, many guns were turned in to the Austrailian government. The government — run by a Constitution which differs from the US greatly — had outlawed guns with a few exceptions for rural areas. Australians, despite their brumby-like reputation, are very much a “follow the book” population. If they were told to turn in their guns, they did so. By this measure, the program was successful.
      Gun violence went down. By this measure, too, the program was successful.
      Violence and robbery using knives, however, skyrocketed. A knife attack is much more violent than a gun attack. The offender must first get into close poximity with his intended victim. There was less chance for a robbery victim to throw his wallet on the ground and run to escape. By this measure, i.e. did violent crime decrease?, the program was a failure.
      Just some thoughts from someone who was “on the ground” during that period of Australian history.

      • Hi GG,

        That’s a very interesting observation, about knife attacks increasing. Of course they would as the real problem is sin and people treating others like objects to be harmed in order to get what they want. Thinking about it now, I doubt a program like Australia’s could even be put into place here in America, because so many wouldn’t volunteer to give up their weapons. We have the 2nd Amendment and guns are here to stay.

        I am reminded of something I heard years ago about the 55 mph speed limit. Because police officers had to be taken from other duty to enforce the Draconian speed limit on the interstates, the incidence of speeding and deadly accidents actually increased on the side roads. When the interstate speed limits went back up to something most people obeyed, police were freed to patrol the side roads and overall accidents went down.

        I guess it’s the law of unintended consequences and it’s going to happen whenever you try a legal remedy to a problem as large as guns. Maybe every American just owes it to himself and his family to have a prayerful discussion about what they would do if they were ever affected by violence. If the government can’t help us – or will only make the problems worse – then we need to help ourselves.

        • GuitarGramma

          Hello PH, I think you’ve nailed it: The Law of Unintended Consequences is a powerful law indeed.

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    Mr Whittaker,
    many thanks for your reply to me.

    It reflects CL at its best, as does this whole discussion.

    It is courteous, but robust. Strong deeply held views are expressed with respect and avoidance of personal attacks.

    One can argue about Pauline writings and views differ in good faith, but I must say your post to me is sound.

  • Tarheel

    Gun control is a “hot” topic in our society. And I do not think any form of governmental gun control will do anything to reduce or eliminate the tragedies in 2012 where guns were used.

    When I was young and was starting to hunt (I was 6 years old) my father taught me how to use a gun and what it was supposed to be used for. I was taught that pointing a gun at anyone was WRONG. The “real” guns in our house we always kept in a safe place. Granted they were readily accessible but I know that I was not to use them except for hunting to literally “get meat for the table”. I can remember my Dad reminding me “Thou shalt kill” from my Sunday School lessons (I was raised Southern Baptist). And I have taught my son’s pretty much the same thing.

    Is gun control needed? No, I don’t think so. Responsible education about guns would do more. In fact if more children were raised up today with stronger and better Christian values, I dare say we would not be discussing this issue.

    Where has our respect for life gone? Do we blame video games? TV? Movies? Books? In a way is this not like blaming guns themselves? We were all given free will and a conscience. Development or forming our conscience is when we are a child is first and foremost the responsibility of the parents. And later in life we form our conscience based on what we were taught as a child. Be it good or bad. Hopefully it is good. And if otherwise, then let’s hope and pray for that person to be changed by the Holy Spirit. A good conscience will make free will “free”

    A problem begins when we as parents allow video games, TV, movies, and books to be what forms the conscience of our children. Just look at what these types of media have done for our attitudes towards sex. And again parents need to be aware of what their children are watching, playing, and reading.

    Beofre we “feel the urge” to control guns through legislation, let’s assert our Christian values, respect life, and educate ourselves.

  • One idea expressed in this discussion is that as society becomes increasingly barbarous, “it seems obvious that gun ownership should be controlled.” In my view the opposite is true, insofar as armed citizens are better able to exercise the right of self-defense. The Colt 45 was called “the great equalizer” because it put elderly and relatively frail people on a par with muscular young assailants. I’m well into the elderly category, and I don’t relish a knife fight with some big strong thug after I’m deprived of my guns.

    Also there’s the issue of the ultimate thug, an oppressive and tyrannical government. And so, as a check against political despotism, the 2nd Amendment makes provision for an armed citizenry.