Thoughts on the Umpqua Community College Shootings

Umpqua Community CollegeOnce again, media feeds have been flooded with the news that another gunman has committed mass murder, this time at Umpqua Community College in rural Roseburg, Oregon. And, immediately, the outrage over the tragedy turned to the gun control debate. President Obama gave an impassioned speech calling for more gun control. Conservatives shot back with impassioned pleas to protect the Second Amendment. Social media filled with anti-gun and pro-gun memes, and political commentators began spouting their rhetoric. All within hours of the massacre.

President Obama stated, “…this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.” With all due respect, Mr. President, can’t we at least wait until the bodies of the victims are cold before we start politicizing? And, rather than politicizing, can’t we have an honest discussion without the partisan political posturing and rhetoric? Can’t we seek to find solutions, rather than using tragedy to further political agendas?

Obama Umpqua Community CollegeI would agree with the President, who stated, “…our thoughts and prayers are not enough.  It’s not enough.  It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel.  And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.” However, I would respectfully disagree with him that the answer to the problem of mass murders is to further restrict guns. I would also respectfully disagree with gun rights advocates that the answer is expanded conceal-carry rights and unrestricted access to weapons. Guns are neither the cause of horrific incidents of mass murder, nor are they the solution.

Heinous maniacs do not need guns to commit atrocities. Timothy McVeigh, the 9-11 terrorists, and the Tsarnaev brothers prove this point. Gun-free zones do nothing to deter gun violence, but simply advertise a soft target to a would-be mass murderer. Tightened restrictions on background checks and gun registration would make it more difficult for psychopaths to legally purchase a weapon, but would do nothing to keep them from being stolen or illegally purchased. Deranged individuals who are determined to inflict mass casualties will obtain weapons capable of accomplishing their plans, whether gun ownership is restricted, or not. And, these same maniacs will continue to commit atrocities, even if a large percent of the population legally carries concealed handguns.

Focusing on guns as either the cause or the solution to mass murders is a lot like focusing on cars as the cause or solution to drunk driving. The issue with drunk driving isn’t the cars, it’s the drivers; and the issue with mass murders isn’t guns, it’s maniacs with a distorted sense of morality.

The President stated, “Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws.” With all due respect, Mr. President, the problem isn’t with the laws. The problem is spiritual.

In order to solve any problem, it is essential to understand the root causes. And the root cause of gun violence in the United States isn’t guns; it’s the loss of our moral foundation.

The United States was founded on Biblical moral principles. Many of the first settlers came to America seeking religious freedom. Our legal system was based on principles found in Scripture. Almost everyone, whether Christian, or not, held to a worldview based on the belief that morality is absolute. Although people disagreed on the specifics, and some practices – such as slavery – were obviously immoral, the predominant belief was that right was right, and wrong was wrong. God was honored, morality was absolute, and culture was founded in Biblical principles.

This is no longer the case.

there_is_no_godWe now live in an increasingly secular culture where God and Biblical principles have been largely rejected. Right and wrong have generally been replaced by situational ethics and relative morality. Most liberals seem to be obsessed with hedonism and radical socialism, and most conservatives seem to be obsessed with selfishness and greed. We have devalued human life. Children are taught that they are accidents of nature, nothing more than highly evolved pond scum. We have dehumanized the unborn. Most people support the right of a woman to intentionally murder her own unborn child, and then they wonder why we’re “numb” to mass killings. God is ignored, mocked, and suppressed. Atheists claim He doesn’t exist. Most people believe He exists, but live as though He doesn’t. Even most so-called Christians live as though the Word of God is merely a list of suggestions, rather than absolute truth. When people are told over and over that they are nothing more than animals, that they have no intrinsic value, that truth and morality are whatever they want to believe, and that there is no deity that will hold them accountable for their actions, why are we surprised when some of them snap and actually act in a manner consistent with such beliefs?

md167the-meaning-of-life-james-frey-postersYes, Mr. President, we need to have serious discussion about the epidemic of mass murders in the United States. We need to have thoughtful discussions about racism, greed, hedonism, hatred, division, oppression, and lawlessness. These things are called sin, and yes, we need serious and open dialog about them. And yes, Mr. President, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need actual change. However, the change we need is not political change. It’s not a change in laws – it’s a change of heart. We need repentance. We need to turn again to the Truth. We need to turn to Jesus Christ.

We have, as a nation, rejected the reality of the Biblical God. We have instead embraced the lie of autonomy apart from God. And, because we have built the American worldview on something other than the reality of God, that worldview is necessarily irrational and devoid of truth. It’s no wonder people act irrationally and some people kill others – they’re just being consistent with what they’ve been indoctrinated to believe.

Some will claim this argument is invalid, because most people don’t kill others. I would respond by saying that most people are inconsistent with what they claim they believe, and far more consistent with Biblical truth. If people truly believed that we’re nothing more than cosmic accidents with no intrinsic value and that morality is just an illusion, then we’d have mass murderers all over the place. We don’t, because people deep down inside know that God exists. We all know right from wrong because God makes it evident, even though we all suppress that truth. Unfortunately, some people completely lose touch with reality, and that’s why we have psychopaths who kill others.

Restricting gun ownership won’t prevent mass murders. Neither will expanded gun rights. We are having the wrong discussion. The only cure for America’s problems is Jesus Christ. That’s what we need to discuss. Unfortunately, that’s also the discussion nobody wants to have. It’s much easier to blame guns and politics than to blame ourselves, repent, and turn to Jesus Christ.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today.  May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back.  And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change. ~ President Obama, October 01, 2015

Yes, Mr. President, may God bless and comfort the families of the slain, and strengthen the wounded. And yes, I pray God gives our nation the courage to change – change our hearts, and turn to Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Big Stupid World – A Reading Test

readingAre you smarter than a fifth grader? The following reading comprehension test is written at approximately a fifth-grade level.

Directions: Read each of the following passages. Answer the questions that follow.



The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”



  1. In this passage, the word establishment means:
    1. a commercial organization
    2. official recognition as a national institution
    3. allowing public expression
    4. permitting
  2. In this passage, the phrase free exercise means:
    1. unrestricted practice
    2. fitness without cost
    3. limited if it offends someone
    4. practiced only in private
  3. The First Amendment states that which of the following is prohibited?
    1. free exercise of religion
    2. respecting religion
    3. praying at public events
    4. Congress imposing an official national religion
  4. What is the main idea of the passage?
    1. Citizens may not express their religious beliefs publicly.
    2. The government may neither force a specific religion on citizens, nor limit how citizens practice religion.
    3. The government must reject all forms of belief in God.
    4. Religious expression is prohibited on government property, at government funded events, and by government employees.

    The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”



  5. In this passage, the word arms means:
    1. weapons and ammunition
    2. hunting rifles
    3. body parts
    4. “gun-free” zones
  6. According to this passage, what is to be well-regulated?
    1. guns
    2. people
    3. militias
    4. ammunition
  7. According to the Second Amendment, people have the right to bear arms in order to _____ .
    1. hunt deer
    2. form militias
    3. protect themselves from burglars
    4. shoot at clay pigeons
  8. A militia is:
    1. an army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
    2. a hunting organization
    3. a law that restricts gun ownership
    4. the police department
  9. In this passage, the best meaning for the word infringed is:
    1. permitted
    2. the hem of a garment
    3. expensive
    4. controlled
  10. What is the main idea of the Second Amendment?
    1. Guns must be controlled to keep whackos from killing children
    2. Only government military and police should have assault rifles.
    3. All citizens have the right to unrestricted weapon ownership so they can form militias.
    4. People can own guns so they can hunt, shoot targets, and threaten bad guys.

Answers:

  1. B
  2. A
  3. D
  4. B
  5. A
  6. C
  7. B
  8. A
  9. D
  10. C

Scoring:

9 – 10 correct: You can read and understand what you read. You do not allow bias to cloud your judgment.

8 correct: You may need to brush up on your reading skills, or else use them more objectively.

6 – 7 correct: You either lack basic critical reading skills, or fail to use them when you don’t like what you are reading.

0 – 5 correct: You are either illiterate, or you are blinded by political ideology.



What does the Second Amendment Actually Say?

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

~ Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

Assault RiflesThe battle over gun control has heated up again. On one extreme side of the battle are those who wish to completely eliminate gun ownership. On the other extreme are those who want no restrictions at all. Between these two extremes is a broad range of ideas, from limiting only high-powered assault rifles, to only having registration and background checks, to limiting the number of bullets a gun can hold, and so forth.

Those on both sides of the battle have brought forth impressive sets of statistics to bolster their positions. Both sides have paraded a steady stream of victims and their families with powerful, emotional testimonies from about how guns have either taken or saved their lives, or the lives of their loved ones. Both sides have well-funded, powerful lobbies in Washington and in all fifty statehouses, and both sides have demonized the other in the media.

How should Congress respond to the question of gun control? First and foremost, all laws in the United States, including gun laws, must conform to the United States Constitution. The Constitution is the foundation upon which all other law must be based. Since the Second Amendment directly addresses the issue of gun control, all other laws must be consistent with it.

militiaInterestingly, the Second Amendment is the only amendment to the Constitution which states a purpose: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” The right to keep and bear arms is not about hunting rights, as some have claimed, nor is it simply about personal protection. It’s about the ability to raise a militia.

What is a militia? According to George Mason, who was a statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, and who is called the “Father of the United States Bill of Rights” (along with James Madison), “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” (George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788). According to the American Heritage® Dictionary, a militia is:

  1. An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
  2. A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.
  3. The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service.

So, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure that ordinary civilian citizens have weapons suitable for military usage in the case of an emergency. This completely destroys the argument that so-called “assault rifles” and automatic and semi-automatic weapons are not covered by the Constitution; it is precisely the right to keep and bear these types of military-grade weapons that is specifically the protected by the Second Amendment. Ordinary citizens, the Second Amendment argues, have the right and responsibility to own military-grade weapons so they can be called upon to defend the security of the state.

What does it mean that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?” Again, according to the American Heritage® Dictionary, to infringe means:

VERB:
in·fringed, in·fring·ing, in·fring·es
VERB:
tr.

  1. To transgress or exceed the limits of; violate: infringe a contract; infringe a patent.
  2. Obsolete To defeat; invalidate.

VERB:
intr.
To encroach on someone or something; engage in trespassing: an increased workload that infringed on his personal life.

bill-of-rightsTherefore, the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be transgressed, exceeded, violated, or encroached upon. Yet, this is precisely what most gun-control legislation does – it limits who can own weapons and/or which weapons they can own and use. Gun-control, by definition, infringes on the right to own and bear arms.

What about the argument that the mentally ill and felons should not have the right to own guns? First, the Second Amendment does not allow for it – this constitutes “infringement.” And secondly, how society determines what constitutes “mentally ill” and what it classifies as a felony is constantly changing. I would agree that violent offenders and those with violent mental states should not have access to weapons. However, defining such individuals is extremely difficult. Does simple depression constitute mental illness, and disqualify one from gun ownership? Does the willingness to shoot an attacker in self-defense constitute a “violent tendency?” Could belief in the Biblical mandate against homosexuality eventually become a felonious “hate crime?” The legislation of exceptions to the right to keep and bear arms is a very slippery slope that is not allowed for in the wording of the Second Amendment.

Regardless of one’s position on gun control, the Second Amendment clearly opposes those who wish to limit gun ownership. There are only two ways to pass legislation to control the ownership of guns: either ignore or “reinterpret” the Second Amendment, or repeal the Second Amendment. All gun laws so far have done the first. However, ignoring or reinterpreting the Second Amendment has thus far been limited by the courts; this is why a number of gun-control advocates are beginning to call for repeal.

The Founding Fathers understood that private citizens need guns not only for personal self-protection and hunting, but also so they can organize into militias to defend themselves militarily in an emergency. The current push to limit ownership of certain types of guns violates this important right.