Odyssey Networks will be doing a series of invited blog posts from religious thinkers responding to the horrific events of yesterday morning. Here is a link to mine, and this is a selection from it:
On the day of the shooting, we had people like Gerald Nadler going on CNN and calling his opponents “enablers of mass murder.” My Facebook and Twitter feeds were rampant with hate-filled attacks against those who are skeptical of gun regulation, while the NRA—in response to this rhetoric (and in light of a mass attack on children in China on the same day)—sarcastically and inappropriately suggested we should regulate knives as well.
Employing this kind of rhetorical violence in response to Newtown is not only ironic, it is totally counter-productive. If those who want change our gun policies (and I include myself in that group) actually want to get something done, the worst thing we can do is to turn this into just another battle between the binary groups of “pro-gun” and “anti-gun.” This is a moment which, if we can all settle down, should be used to dive into the complexity of the relationship between gun regulation and killings and try to come up with solutions that are not based on anger or sentimentality, but instead on data and rational argument.
We absolutely need to dial down the rhetoric, however righteous our anger. This moment is too important for us to simply slip back into the mode of discourse which has produced our current political deadlock.
I have one gun for home defense ( criminal came through my front window….I chased and fought him….he promised to return with a pistol ) and yet I think gun production should not be a freemarket industry because guns are then produced for profit not human real need. It should be like license plate production…produced only as really needed. There are 310 million guns in circulation but only 114 million households in the US with only 42% of those having a gun. So there should be only 48 million guns for home defense but there is 6 and a half times that in circulation….many in the hands of criminals through theft from homes or through using relatives to purchase them.
That said….Newtown was possible with sane gun laws since the mother in this case probably bought these guns as a reaction to the infamous Connecticut Petit family home invasion in which a gun would have prevented the rape and murder of a mom and two daughters. Also the media is studiously avoiding mentioning the McVeigh mass murder which was 168 killed and 800 injured and no gun was used. A homemade bomb is worse and I’ll wager the recipe is still on the internet.
Newtownlike mass murders are really sometimes more about parents not being able in some
cases to get coerced psychiatric help (under our permissive laws) for radically alienated young males. We could be hoping this is a gun problem because we have less control over mental illness now that we confine far fewer people to mental hospitals.
The Pope’s Swiss Guard all have Sig Sauer high end pistols as was used in Newtown. They
don’t misuse them. Untreated radically alienated young males might misuse them. As a society, we can make the guns vanish hypothetically not really ( cocaine is illegal and always attainable) but if we don’t treat radically alone young males for mental illness coercively if need be…then they will learn how to make bombs from attainable chemicals probably on the internet and the victims will number far above 20 and nearer to McVeigh’s 168 which no one is mentioning as the media gears
up to talk gun control. Yes change gun production to a non profit industry and restrict gun numbers to roughly match home defense and huning needs. But it will not solve our mental health mass murder problems for long. Remember McVeigh who is currently being ignored in the Newtown media analysis…because he disturbs the favored paradigm. It’s about untreated radical alienation.
Most households in Switerzerland have guns due to militia obligations. The guns are not as pivotal as we’d like to believe.