Can we have a civil gun discussion or not?

The Daily Beast thinks so.

The well known site asked its readers to weigh-in on the issue. Gun owners and non-owners alike responded with over 600 reasonable comments (DB discarded an unknown number considered “misguided attempts at humor—from both sides of the fence. Others were downright puerile”).

Comments included:

Readers from rural areas said that they own guns for practical concerns, like personal safety in homes located far from law enforcement, or as a necessary tool for their livelihoods.

“We target shoot. We live in a rural area with livestock,” LP from Colorado said. “We have to be able to defend ourselves from aggressive wildlife, put an animal out of its misery if it is severely injured, and defend ourselves in our isolated environment. People are responsible with their guns here.”

A respondent from New Mexico said he or she owns a “.22 pistol to shoot rattlesnakes only in my yard.”

Hunters, not surprisingly, represented a good number of gun owners who responded to our survey. “I grew up in a family that hunted and fished,” said Jeff from Minnesota. “However, I do believe that private ownership of semi-automatic and automatic guns and handguns should be totally prohibited. I am perfectly willing to give up all of my guns for the greater good.”

A third group of gun owners was made up of hobbyists. An anonymous reader from Minnesota wrote that he or she owns a gun “because the hunting and shooting culture I grew up in taught me to respect life, my elders, and firearms. The relationship between me and my father that developed out of firearms and hunting is incredibly meaningful and the most positive one in my life.”

[…]

“Shooting sports are fun, and legitimate,” Andy from Texas wrote of why he chooses not to own a gun. “But the anxieties of the self-defense crowd are just too much for me. I refuse to believe there are that many bogeymen in the world.”

“I don’t need one today, but would want the option to buy one if I change my mind. I could agree with special, renewable permits/licenses and required annual safety training for owners,” wrote one anonymous reader.

Other respondents wrote that they see no need to put the fearsome power of a firearm in the hands of civilians, outside of controlled circumstances like hunting. Christina from California wrote that “the purpose of a gun is to kill someone or something. God is the judge of people’s actions, not me. You don’t need an assault weapon to kill a deer or pheasant. If your life feels threatened, you are in the wrong place.”

“I have curious kids,” wrote Matt from Maryland in a post that summed up many respondents’ feelings about the unreliable hands even a legally purchased weapon might fall in to. “I might lose my job or my wife and have a nervous breakdown.”

If this anywhere resembles a cross-section it appears most Americans are not opposed to gun ownership, but support more restrictions than are currently in place.

I was raised in a gun owning family and am a gun owner. My wife and kids are familiar with firearm use. They will soon become even more proficient.

Personally, I have never seen or felt the need for owning a hundred round ammo drum. I do not know of anyone who hunts with them either. It is true assault-style rifles are not used for hunting quail; but neither are .22s or a .40 Glock. And neither is a chef’s knife or a baseball bat.

I have been to firing ranges with and without someone in charge. Danger never felt near even though every other person was unknown to me. Pay attention when the range is hot and keep your gun pointed toward your target. I have been hunting when the person who knew the least about what was going on was me. Made it through.

I’ve known of one person who was killed because he did not unload his gun before he started to clean it. If fell off the table, discharged and fatally wounded him. I also read of a woman who turned around in her kitchen while holding a knife and fatally wounded a family member. I went to the home of a man whose car had slid of the jack stands and crushed him to death in his own yard. Accidents do happen and they involve guns, knives, cars, rocks, construction, the old and the young.

People even die having sex. I’ll move to Canada when someone tries to outlaw that.

If you are a complete pacifist and refuse to engage violence in any way, then it really should not matter to you whether I choose to defend myself with a firearm, a length of 2×4 or 3 feet of tire chain. I respect your right to allow yourself to be killed. I even respect your right to allow your family to be brutalized while you do nothing. I will defend mine with every ounce of strength and by all available means. Defending the defenseless is not only about abortion.

(As an aside, it amuses me when people decry gun ownership, yet when faced with violence themselves, call the police who come to the rescue…with billy-clubs, pistols, body armor and, if need be, assault weapons. As an aside within an aside, it is a little-known fact that a large number of accidental shootings come from…wait for it…the police shooting themselves and each other. Also, waiting for the police is not recommended in the face of evil people with guns. Check these interesting stats.)

As I perceive the issue of guns, a few things jump out to me. First, if there is a problem with mentally imbalanced people going on rampages it could be a different discussion than the gun discussion. Frankly, we cannot say of every person who goes on a rampage they are mentally challenged or emotionally damaged. This is the easy, lazy way out and is an insult to the millions of mentally challenge or depressed people who never commit a crime.

That said, if weapons that allow for mass or spree murders are falling into the hands of the mentally ill tightening a few processes is the least we can do to protect our friends, family and ourselves until we can get the other issues in society addressed. As a gun owner I confess it makes little sense that I must pass an eye test every time a driver’s license renewal is needed, but have to pass a range test only once.

Second, while the Second Amendment provides the right to keep and bear (“carry”) arms, it does not necessitate the right to own any armament the mind of man can create. I’m not in favor of my next door neighbor having a cache of white phosphorous rounds in his basement. Even if we are attacked by aliens. (Anyone whose ever seen Independence Day knows we need a nerdy code-writer before any weapons will do any good anyway.)

The flip side of this is the musket argument, and that being a poorly conceived one. The 2nd was written during a time that our arms were equal to or superior to those of our enemies. That they were single shot rifles and manual reloads is completely irrelevant. If the constitution was being written today with the same intent we still would be addressing a situation where our choices should be what allows for practical defensibility. As weapons became more advanced–and that before the NRA–the 2nd Amendment was not modified.

Third, the problem of evil is real. Demonic possession is real. The hearts of people are blackened with hurt, hate, cruelty and violence. I do not expect our congress to engage this part of the conversation, but followers of Christ must do so. We cannot legislate away evil but we can recognize and give ministry to those who are being overcome by it. Jesus changes hearts and lives.

Fourth, lawbreakers do not need permission or permits. One reason we have drive-by shooting deaths is gangsters are apparently bad shots while in moving vehicles. Why should they not be? When you are under-aged, have an illegal firearm, and are intending to kill people, you cannot exactly go to a range and practice. (“Hey Harold, how much to access the urban setting firing range for some practice today? Could you set some cardboard kid cutouts on front porches and such? I hit too many last time.”)

Many gun deaths are a result of not one, but a large number of accumulated broken laws. Though an old axiom, “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns,” is very true. Gun crime is again on the rise in England where citizens do not own or carry. Things have degenerated in some areas to the point *gasp* the police have once again started packing.

In a free country law abiding people should be able to defend themselves against aggression, point for point. Those who abide by the law should never be faced with defending themselves against a 9MM using a rolled up magazine. I’m not Jason Bourne. Neither is anyone I know.

Will we be able to have a rational discourse on this? Given that my definition of rational my differ from yours and everyone else’s?

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • cb Scott

    Marty,

    I had made a long comment earlier and it got lost. However, I do agree with you and I agree with Wayne LaPierre who stated, The only defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good with a gun.

    I can’t help but wonder the outcome had Dawn Hochsprung and maybe one or two more of those ladies been trained to be proficient with firearms and had been properly armed when Adam Lanza shot out the glass in the doors of their school. Maybe there would not have been 26 funerals, 20 of them children in Small Town, USA.

    • martyduren

      I hate that your longer, astute comment was lost. I’d love you have you stopping by more often now that you have your account working again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jay.sanders3 Jay Sanders

    Yet another well-written and timely article. What disturbs me the most about all of this is the fact that almost any rational thinker can see that good citizens with so-called assault rifles are not the problem. They never have been. It’s clear that the government is taking advantage of a media that is, for the most part, too busy falling in line with the current regime to even consider reporting that perhaps it’s more than guns that the feds are after. It’s our freedom.

  • cb Scott

    Marty,

    You are also right that the problem of evil is real. I realize, maybe better than many, why people give themselves over to horrible evil. Many people have had extreme abuse in their lives at an early age and become even worse than their abusers. They are filled with hate, anger, frustration, and a desire to get even with their abuser. For what ever reason, they transfer their hatred toward other people.

    It is also a fact that the gospel can completely change the most evil among us. Yet, not all evil people are going to be converted to faithfully take up the cross and follow Jesus.

    Therefore, good men (and women) must stand watch over their families. Marty, I truly believe that 1 Timothy 5:8 involves more than food, clothing, and shelter. I believe God expects us to provide protection for our families against the evil that men do.

    In our culture, that means that we need to be proficient in the ability to defend against personal assault on our persons and on the persons of our families. I will take it further. I believe that the Bible teaches that the strong are mandated to give protection to the weak, the young, the old, and the infirm.

    I really believe the good and honorable and legally armed citizen who is properly trained in firearm’s proficiency is the true first defense in our society against the evil that men do.

  • Joel Rainey

    Very well-written, cogent post Marty. A reasonable discussion on this issue will not only look at the issue of access to firearms, but also to those who use them for nefarious purposes. Its much easier to stare down gun manufacturers than it is to look in the mirror, and if we can locate “evil” in an inanimate object rather than in our own souls, we never have to talk about the real problem. Additionally, the Christian mandate to defend the weak and helpless comes into play in this discussion.

    Its a dark world out there, and limiting our discussion to tighter restrictions on guns is a naive approach that ignores that darkness. Thanks for your reasoned words here.

    • martyduren

      Thx, Joel. If you are correct that mis-assignment of blame has to be corrected we may forever be at an impasse. I’m not sure enough people are willing to admit the sources of evil both inside and outside ourselves to get to the root of the issue.

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  • Isaiah

    No, I’m not Jason Bourne. That’s why I need as many bullets as I can fit into my gun when I may be faced by criminals who may be on drugs, while I am half-naked and half-asleep in my bedroom.

    After fighting for life, no police officer or citizen ever said “gee, I wish I hadn’t brought so much ammo.” A murderer chooses the time and place of his attack to make effective use of whatever weapon he chooses – gun, knife, bomb, pipe, or fist. Any weapon will do, even a pencil or household cleaners.

    But defense is more difficult. In order to defend (yourself, your family, or a classroom full of children), you need a weapon that is powerful enough to stop the attack before too much damage can be done. You need a weapon that is easy to use, and you need as much ammo as you can get. Marksmanship is difficult under stress – there are plenty of dash-cam videos of police officers in a shootout at 3 feet firing a dozen bullets and missing every shot.

    Citizens need lots of ammo for the same reason police do. In a fight for your life, marksmanship is difficult and the odds are already stacked against you.

  • Mike Jacob

    Excellent post. My only question is, “Why can’t we expect our congressmen to participate in the spiritual aspect of the conversation?” Do they abdicate any right to spiritual discernment when sworn in? If so, by whom or what are they swearing? In an effort to offend no one, I am afraid we offend no one but Christ.