2 Timothy 1:7 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Good Guys With Guns?
A very popular response to resisting gun regulation is: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is having a good guy with a gun.” It is truly beautiful in its simplicity and bravado. It’s stance of bravery, self-reliance, machismo, and courage fit extremely well into conservative Americana and patriotism. Indeed, the American psyche thrives on self-reliant heroes that single-handedly fight back forces of evil. It’s why we love Superman, Batman, Rambo, and Rocky. It’s why military style role-playing video games are best sellers every year.
However, one only needs to start having transparent conversations with experienced military or law enforcement personnel to learn that good guys with guns often fail to stop bad guys with guns. This doesn’t even address the fact that they take pride in not having to use their firearms.
What? How? Surely I’m some idiotic, domestic liberal who frequently wears pink. Even if I were such a liberal, it would not change some facts:
Sometimes bad guys have better aim than good guys.
Sometimes bad guys will plan better than good guys.
Sometimes bad guys will also have body armor with their guns.
Sometimes bad guys will have bigger or better guns than good guys.
After several conversations and periods of reflection, my views on good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns have evolved.
Initially, I honestly found the saying inspirational and intently started the process towards gun ownership. However, as I got closer to gun ownership there were a few questions, I had to answer within myself: Am I truly prepared to kill someone? Does self-defense really require lethal means? How does gun ownership line up with the non-violent teachings of Jesus? Am I truly prepared for my children to be exposed to guns or even knives? How would I handle or recover from any accidental discharge of a weapon I owned?
Then I had to confront a more embarrassing question: Why do I want a gun in the first place? Although I used rifles for target practice as a child, I’m not a hunter. Nor do I ever plan to be. The primary reason I would ever own a gun now is fear. Yes, there are more sophisticated and acceptable terms I could use like protection, self-defense, patriotism, or it’s my right. However, at the root of all these reasons is fear. Fear that I would not be able to protect my family. Fear that I’m somehow less of a man if I remain uncomfortable with guns. Fear that I would die at the hands of another person with a gun. Although the media never talks about this directly, I suspect that I’m not alone. That regardless of their religious or political beliefs, most Americans buy and own guns because of fear. This is profoundly troubling in a country where nearly 71% of its population and 91% of its current Congress identifies themselves as Christian. Our scripture tells us explicitly that Christians should not make minor or major decisions based on fear. Moreover we proudly sing in our national anthem that we are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Can we truly say our current gun legislation reflects bravery? Can we truly say our current gun policies reflect love and sound judgment?