Worshipping Guns in America
by David Todd McCarty | Saturday, September 5, 2015
Guns are made to kill.
That is their sole purpose. Certain guns such as hunting rifles and shotguns are meant to be used to kill animals, presumably for food, but not always. No one is eating a Rhino.
Handguns and assault weapons, have just one purpose: To kill humans. There is no other purpose in making or owning a handgun or assault rifle. There just isn’t.
Either you intend to kill a person, or you intend on fantasizing about killing a person. You can claim you want a gun so you can shoot at paper targets, and most of the time that target is shaped like a human torso and head. So, what are you thinking about when you shoot that target in the head?
You don’t need a gun, you just want one. A lot of us do.
We are fascinated with guns. They’re powerful. They’re scary. There is a reason they’re black and not bright pink. They look fucking cool. They must us feel fucking cool. And we want one.
The more a gun looks like something a Navy Seal might use, the more we want one. We want to be in our own little action film. We want to be the badass, but honest cop, shooting it out with the evil drug lord. We want to be the indestructible soldier, raining hellfire on the infidels. We like it when it’s black and white. Good and evil.
But mostly, we just want to kick some ass.
What about for self defense, you say?
The self-defense argument is not only weak, it’s actually indefensible. There is no such thing as using a gun in self-defense.
As Adam Kotsko put it:
Guns are devices for causing grave bodily injury, up to and including death. That’s their express purpose. Pretending that the purpose of a gun is to “defend yourself” is euphemism and sophistry. You cannot directly “defend yourself” using a gun. It’s not a shield or a barricade. Nor can you shoot bullets that will intercept or deflect those being shot at you. You “defend yourself” with a gun, only indirectly, by threatening to kill someone — or actually wounding or killing them.
There is no defensive gun. Only a belief that you are justified in killing before you yourself are killed.
To many Americans, that’s a perfectly acceptable stance. Frankly, for most of my life, I would say that would have been my stance as well. But I can’t reconcile that viewpoint with Christian theology anymore.
Jesus didn’t teach “Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you.” He said,
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Jesus did not teach an Eye for an Eye. He told his disciples,
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, for if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?
Many of the same people who lament the downfall of the church and traditional family values have put aside the words of Jesus in lieu of the words of Ted Nugent.
Ted has proudly claimed,
The war is coming to the streets of America and if you are not keeping and bearing and practicing with your arms then you will be helpless and you will be the victim of evil.
A lot of Christians in America would agree with that viewpoint, as crazy as it sounds. Their God is not as powerful against Evil as an AR-15, I guess. Not much faith there.
They believe they are in a war and that standing up for Jesus amounts to being heavily armed and trying to force their version of morality onto society.
Ironically, ISIS has more or less the same philosophy.
Belief in God may be on the wane in America. That’s what a lot of recent studies have shown and it’s got a lot of Christians wringing their hands. More and more people are leaving the church, or never bothering to come in the first place. Atheism might actually be the fastest growing religion in the country. But the truth is, we have a new god in America. Guns.
Christians have been defending the ownership and use of guns, probably since their invention, based on the concepts of self-defense and St. Augustine’s Just War Theory.
Mark Lockard writes,
While I do think there are situations in which violent conflict can be justified (the classic example being fighting to bring down Nazi Germany in WWII), I don’t think it can ever be done so in Christian terms. Theologically, we cannot agree if you assert that killing of any kind can be justified in the name of Christ. I believe this for the reasons given above, namely that Jesus lived, died, and lived again to affirm the blessedness and the sanctity of the lives we live together.
The Christ I know is one of life and peace, even in the face of death. Christ shows us that even if we can’t avoid death, much as we might like to because we are human and a fear of death is natural, we know that life wins out. This is what we’re asked to affirm in when faced with the empty tomb. Losing our fear of harm and death, and lifting up a savior who delights in lives lived fully, is our Christian call. Why can’t we trust in that more than a gun?
I don’t necessarily expect non-Christians to agree with this. But what I don’t understand, is how people who call themselves Christians, can not only NOT oppose guns, but fight for any gun control whatsoever. They believe you’re coming for their guns AND their Bible. In that order.
Guns, God, Country seems to be the chorus.
The fact is, we criminalize addiction, imprison more of our citizens than any society on the planet, stand by while the police kill innocent people, we trade the education of our youth in exchange for cheap oil, and hand out guns and prescription drugs like candy, then scratch our heads that it’s not working out.
We are no longer having a gun debate in the country. British Journalist Dan Hodges recently tweeted,
In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.
That should be absolutely appalling to everyone. It certainly is to the rest of the world.
Personally, I don’t think our obsession with guns has brought us anything but misery. Gun deaths in America are outrageous and occur at a frightening rate, with most of those being suicide.
Well, anyone can jump off a bridge or swallow a bunch of pulls and still commit suicide, right? True. But it’s a lot harder to take your boss with you when you do it.
A madman can kill someone with knife right? Sure. But he’s unlikely to take several dozen children with him when he does it.
In the end, I’m with Mark Lockard, who writes,
I don’t have a problem with hunting rifles used to hunt animals for food. Other than that, I’m opposed to civilian gun ownership. Guns are made for dealing death. And if they’re not made for the death of an animal, that means they’re made for the death of a human. And given that reality, I see no way to reconcile owning handguns, assault rifles, and the like with the reality of Christ, which is fundamentally about life. Not death.
We are a society, out of control; and guns are at the center of our madness.
We have the solution, but do we have the will?