My Common Sense Take on Gun Control

I don’t tend to make a lot of political statements. And when massive tragedies happen, I have a personal rule to only add my voice to the noise when my thoughts are screaming to get out. And in an election year, I’ve worked even harder to not add to the noise that is hitting us from all sides.

But a few weeks ago a tragedy happened. And I’ve tried my best to keep my mouth shut. But as I’ve watched fear and bigotry and irrationality rule the day, I couldn’t take it any more.

So here’s my piece: like it, hate it, I don’t really care, but here it is.

I’m increasingly becoming a big fan of gun control. That doesn’t mean I don’t value the second amendment or that I’m not a Republican, though each day draws me closer to removing that label.

But here are a few reasons why I think our country has a gun problem that goes beyond political parties. And to me (and this may be a biased view), this is all very common sense.

First, we are the only civilized country in the world where this happens. I think the last number I saw was that Obama has given 17 speeches after mass shootings in America. That is outrageous for an 8-year presidency! I find it really difficult to say we are the greatest country on earth when every few months dozens of our citizens are gunned down.

Second, the Second Amendment is 200 years old. We’ve got to put it in context and think about why that amendment was put there and ask is it still viable for a 21st century nation. Remember, in the 1700’s a gun fired a single shot and took forever to reload. There was no way to fire more than a few rounds in a minute. Also, it was written at a time when people lived out of the city near the frontier. It was a protection issue and a hunting issue. That’s not the case for most Americans anymore. And yes, it was put there as a provision based on the Colonies’ experiences with the British, for citizens to rise up against ruthless governments.

But consider this: we don’t typically let any kind of rule or idea stand for 200 years without some modifications being made along the way. Do I think Americans should have the right to purchase and own a weapon? I do. But maybe we shouldn’t let that be a blanket rule. Maybe civilians shouldn’t be granted access to powerful weapons with large magazines.

We make this argument about the Bible all the time. Some of the rules and regulations found in the Bible often come up for debate about their validity because it was written thousands of years ago. As a pastor, I hold that God’s Word is inerrant and that those rules still hold weight today. But the constitution is not inerrant; we should stop treating it like it is.

And yes, I know I’m using my freedom of speech to write this. But once again, we don’t want to make blanket statements. No one is saying we should abolish all of the amendments, and I’m not saying get rid of the second amendment. I’m just saying to examine it’s context and make it right for a 21st century world, where we have become really skilled at finding new, more horrific ways to kill one another.

Third, why would you ever vote against criminals and suspected terrorists not being given the right to buy a gun? This makes no sense to me. If you knew that a specific person was going to break into your house and kill your family with any weapon, you’d never say “well, we can’t violate his rights to get that weapon. I guess my family will just have to die.” I know that’s a ridiculous example, but that is reality. If someone is mentally unstable, a violent criminal, or suspected of have an ideology that wants to kill innocent people, it should be a no-brainer to say “Hey, let’s make it really difficult (if not impossible) for these people to have access to weapons where they can hurt a lot of people.” I’m a big advocate of common sense, and this is just stupid.

Fourth, you having a concealed handgun license doesn’t make me safer. That image or status on Facebook is driving me mad. And I’m not against concealed carry. But you saying that I’ll be glad if something happened and you were strapped makes no sense. Because let’s be honest, the people who are strapped probably aren’t going and spending lots of time at soft targets. Most concealed carry permit holders aren’t frequenting gay night clubs, elementary schools, office buildings, or community centers. I know there are the rare cases where someone is carrying in those places, but I think the overall percentage is very small. So no, I don’t feel safer knowing that you are carrying.

And I know everyone wants to argue about gun-free zones and how they are making places soft targets. But think about why a school, for instance, should be a gun free zone. My toddlers are always reaching into my pockets, grabbing things, dropping things, and examining things they have no business examining. Elementary school kids are better about this, but still, do you want to throw a handgun into the mix where a kindergartener may stumble upon it and accidentally hurt themselves or others? I don’t think so. And middle school and high schools are even worse, because there are raging hormones. If a concealed weapon was ever discovered by a kid having a bad week, that would be bad. Again, it just doesn’t make sense.

I think this whole thing is a common sense issue. Strip away the politics and the gun lobby and just think about the right course of action as a rational human being who hopefully somewhat values human life. The answer is simple to me: maintain the second amendment, but make it much more difficult for civilians to obtain a weapon and near impossible for a mentally unstable or suspected terrorist to get them.

Admittedly, I don’t know all the ins and outs of gun laws and the debates raging right now. I don’t know what the right solution is. And obviously any stricter gun laws won’t keep bad people bent on hurting the innocent from causing harm.

But I’m a guy who really strives to be rational and live by common sense. And strict gun laws seem to be common sense. Forget personal liberty for a second and think about a classroom of kindergarteners murdered by a man with a gun he had no business owning. Common sense looks at that tragedy and says “hmm, maybe we should make these things harder to get.”

Anyway, there’s my two cents.

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