Remarks delivered at the Community Conversation on Gun Violence on May 15, 2018 at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church.
God knows that we are a violent people. It’s been this way since Cain killed Abel because Cain was jealous and afraid. Jealousy and fear drive most of our violence. That’s why you hear so many people talking about guns as a way to stay safe—they’re afraid. So, they keep a gun—an idol of safety that will not actually keep them safe—guns in the home are 4 times more likely to be used against someone in the home than to protect those in the home.
God knows that we are a violent people, even though God has given us the means to have life and have it abundantly. Because we don’t know how to share and we think someone will take something that belongs to us, we keep a gun to protect what is ours—a false idol that more often ends up robbing us, or someone we love, of the gift of life.
Since we are violent toward others and ourselves—two-thirds of the gun deaths in this country are suicides—we should be careful with our weapons, especially weapons that nearly always allow no second chances.
- If I punch someone in the face in a fit of anger, that person will have a black eye and I will have a sore hand; but if I take out a gun and shoot there is no chance to make up.
- If I have a bad day at the office or the bank or in court and decide to end it all with a bottle of pills, I might change my mind and call 9-1-1; but if I take out a gun and shoot there is no chance for a better tomorrow.
More guns in our communities, mean more gun deaths. It’s a fact—look it up. Guns are a public health issue because we are violent people. To be otherwise we must practice non-violence and be trained in self-restraint. In the meantime, while we are still practicing not to be afraid and learning to get over our jealousies, we need a way to remain safe from ourselves and sometimes even from our own best intentions.
If it’s true that guns don’t kill people, people do, then we should take extra care with the people who can have guns. We ask people to pass a test before we allow them to drive; we have standards for the car seat a baby must have; and we don’t allow people to jump in the deep end of the pool until they show us they can swim across it.
Why wouldn’t we want tests and standards, even laws, that regulate gun safety?
God knows we are violent people. God expects us to take some responsibility for that. That’s why I’m here. Thank you.