My Evolving Thoughts on School Shootings and Gun Control

As my thoughts on gun control and mass murders continue to evolve, two things have become crystal clear to me.  First, what we are currently doing isn’t working.  And, second, the sound-bite, blame game, quick-fix solutions being proposed won’t do anything to stop the shootings.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The psychiatrists, social workers, politicians, pundits, and law enforcement experts cannot agree on the causes of the current epidemic.  Some blame guns.  Some blame a lack of mental health care.  Some blame the decline of morality.  Some blame violence in movies, music, and video games.  Some blame poor parenting.  Some blame racism.  Some blame bullying.  Some blame the breakdown of the family.  Some blame the NRA.  Some blame economic inequality.  Some blame turning away from God.  Some blame Obama and the Democrats.  And some blame Trump and the Republicans.

The proposed solutions are equally contradictory and muddled.  Ban all guns.  Ban some guns.  Arm teachers and school staff.  Raise the age to buy weapons.  Provide more funding for mental health.  Hire armed veterans to secure schools.  Offer free conceal-carry classes.  This list goes on.

What nobody seems to want to do is to put ideological dogma aside and to sit down to discuss the problem and solutions rationally and pragmatically.  People are more concerned with pushing political ideology than in finding solutions that work.

I don’t have a bunch of letters after my name, and I’m not an expert, but I am a reasonably intelligent, well informed, and thoughtful person.  It seems to me that the causes of mass shootings are extremely complex, and vary considerably from case to case.  It also follows that there are no simple solutions to a problem with such complex and varying causes.

Both the left and the right make valid points.  Easy access to high-powered, multi-round rifles obviously makes it much easier to shoot a lot of people, but so do “gun-free zones” where the assailant knows his victims will be unarmed, easy targets.  And while it’s clear that someone that shoots up a school is mentally unstable, it’s equally clear that the vast majority of people with mental illness are of absolutely no threat to others.  Most gun owners are law-abiding citizens and responsible people, yet many mass shooters use firearms they purchased legally.

How do we solve the problem?  Again, I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but it seems to me the place to start would be for each side to begin listening to what the other side has to say.  Those on the right need to understand why the left is so terrified of unregulated gun availability.  Those on the left need to understand why the right is adamant that gun ownership is just as much an absolute right as free speech or freedom of religion.  We then need to come together to find practical ways to protect people from these attacks, as well as addressing the complex social, religious, political, emotional, and medical reasons why people shoot other people.

It seems common sense to me that if conservatives believe “extreme vetting” is necessary to keep terrorist immigrants from entering the United States, it might also be necessary to keep terrorists and violent people from obtaining certain types of high powered semi-automatic weapons.  It also makes sense to me that mass killers are less likely to target a school where teachers and staff are known to be armed and trained to defend themselves and their students.  Obviously, not all teachers would want to be armed, and nobody should be required to violate their conscience and be forced to carry a weapon.  And many communities would rather risk an armed attack against an unarmed school than to permit loaded weapons in classrooms.  These choices should be made by individual states, communities, schools, and teachers, with significant input from community members, parents and students.

Woman with AR-15

It also seems obvious to me that the causes of the rise in mass-shootings are related to the causes of many of the other societal problems.  We have seen an increase in mass shootings, racial violence, hateful rhetoric, violent bullying, sexual assault, and violent protest.  Behaviors and beliefs that our nation once abhorred are now not only tolerated, but are embraced and celebrated.  We have given up our God-given moral compass, and replaced it with a moral Ouija board.  Conservative Christian leaders who once denounced racism, fornication, and blasphemy now defend a racist, adulterous, blasphemous president.  In the past, our leaders worked to try to unify our nation and work for the common good.  Today, our leaders work to divide our nation to promote partisan ideology.  Technology has isolated us as individuals; parents no longer discipline their children or themselves; schools teach that we are meaningless accidents of evolution; churches teach that we cannot take the Bible seriously; and we blame others rather than taking responsibility for our own actions.

We dehumanize the unborn to justify abortion, and then we wonder why some people dehumanize others to justify mass murder.  We teach that morality is whatever our hearts tell us is right and wrong, and then we are surprised that some people’s hearts tell them mass murder is right.  We teach people to blame others because they are helpless victims, and then wonder why some people think it’s OK to take revenge against those they believe victimized them.  We make mass murderers famous, posting their names and images on the evening news, and then we wonder why the next person tries to kill more than the last.

How do we prevent mass shootings?  We return to the values we once believed.  We teach our children that they are loved by God and that each person has great value and worth.  We become less isolated, and more caring of our neighbors and associates.  We encourage people to arm and defend themselves, while making it harder for deranged people to get access to high-powered, semi-automatic weapons. We stop making mass murderers famous.  We stop glorifying violence.  We do a better job of identifying those with violent tendencies, and get them help.  We start listening to each other and work together, rather than blaming and demonizing each other.  We repent and ask God to forgive us, and sincerely ask for His guidance and wisdom.

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Mass Killers Are Simply Being Consistent With The Culture

Yet another mass shooting, this time, in a church in Texas.  Why?

The left blames guns.  Most on the right have no answer, although Trump says it’s a mental health issue.

I say it’s a worldview issue.  These mass murderers are simply being consistent with their beliefs.

Many people dehumanize the unborn, the poor, minorities, the disabled, and the elderly, then we wonder how mass murderers can dehumanize their victims.

For the last nine years, we have had Presidents that have preached division, and then we wonder why there is so much division and hatred.

We teach children that humans are simply highly evolved pond scum, accidents of nature, then we wonder why mass murderers have so little regard for the value of human life.

We have banned any discussion of God from schools and government, then wonder why mass murderers have no regard for God.

Our music, movies, and video games glorify violence, and then we wonder why mass murderers have such a callous view of violence.

We teach that morality is whatever we choose it to be, that right and wrong are relative.  Then we wonder why mass murderers choose to believe that killing is acceptable.

As a nation, we once held God in high regard.  Now, we openly mock God.  We ridicule people of faith. Most churches reject the idea that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.  They follow the parts they like, and “reinterpret” the parts they don’t like.  Very few in America today strive to live lives of obedience to God’s Word.  Then we wonder why God doesn’t protect us.  We don’t make the connection between our rejection of God and God’s rejection of our nation.

As long as America continues to devalue human life, preach division, glorify violence, teach moral relativism, and mock God, we will continue to have more sick individuals that have no regard for human life, hate people, and believe it is acceptable to use violence to act out their hatred.  They are simply behaving in a manner that is consistent with what they have been taught to believe.

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 – Reaping What We Have Sown

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, and then massacred 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life.

The staggering loss of innocent lives has left many asking, “Why?”

People blame everything from lack of gun control, to CIA conspiracies, to lack of treatment for the mentally ill, to video games and rap music, to media coverage and copycat murderers.

I believe our culture is simply reaping what it has sown.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

God in SchoolsAmerican society has learned to mock God. We have largely thrown God out of our schools, our media, our government, and our lives. God has been relegated to a few church pews, a couple of days a week, for a few hours, for a handful of people who are considered by most as relics of the past.

Most children are taught in school that they are accidents of nature and nothing more than animals, albeit somewhat more evolved than most, rather than being created in the image of God, Who loves them. Then we wonder why they act like animals.

Much of our modern music and many video games glorify killing, drugs, sex, and death. Then we wonder why teen pregnancy and abortion rates are so high, and why someone would walk into a school or mall and start shooting people.

Television portrays God as a myth, Christians as intolerant bigots, fathers as idiots, and the traditional family as irrelevant. Then, we wonder why Godly values are ignored, and why our kids are out of control.

As our culture has sown, so has it reaped.

The problem is not gun violence, drug abuse, rap music, abortion, greed, suicide, the education system, the Democrats, or the Republicans. These are just symptoms of a deeper problem. The real problem is that our culture mocks God. We have lost our foundation; we have rejected our Creator.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20

The United States was once blessed, because we were built on a Biblical foundation. That foundation is gone, and has been replaced by a humanistic foundation that says mankind can choose whatever he wants about right or wrong. When human beings decide what is right and wrong, we invariably choose wrong, and call it right. And in the process, we mock God.

Why do people like Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Seung-Hui Cho kill people? Psychologists will debate the causes, but from a Biblical perspective, I believe they simply act in a manner consistent with what society teaches them. Our culture taught them that human life is basically meaningless, that we are animals, and death and killing are glorious – a lesson they learned well.

Our culture is reaping what it has sown; the culture mocks God, then wonders why God doesn’t intervene.

How do we fix the problem? Not through politics, or social programs, or public education:

8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

God help us.