This week brought the sad and horrific news of another terrible shooting at a High School in Texas with 19 children among those murdered. In the United States, there remains a strong pro-gun lobby and that includes many evangelical Christians. This is seen by them as a freedom issue. They rely on the second amendment to the US constitution giving them “the right to bear arms.”
Now, there are two obvious problems with that argument. The first is that the right is included as an amendment to the constitution, it’s not a permanent part of the main document. In other words, the amendment itself can surely be amended.
Secondly, the claim that the constitution gives a general “right to bear arms” depends on a partial quotation. The amendment actually says:
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.US Constitution 2nd Amendment
The purpose of the right was not so that any Tom, Dick or Harry could pop into Walmart and pick up a hunting rifle from Aisle 1. Rather, it was to serve the security of the US by enabling the States to draw upon a militia in terms of crisis. Note too that the aim was so that the militia would be “well regulated.” The drafters’ intent was that the right people and only the right people would have access to weapons. One might also ask whether local militias are necessary in the modern US.
So, the arguments in favour of unfettered gun ownership have always been questionable. However, this week I’ve seen an example of a particularly disturbing and offensive argument coming from Evangelicals.
This is a disgraceful and shameful example of victim blaming. The implication being that the fault for those children’s deaths lies with them and their parents for choosing to go to school. It’s also a particularly stupid argument. The point about murderous gunmen is that they don’t just target schools. If those children had not been in school then their murderer could have just as easily opened fire at the mall, at a church service (as also happened recently) or even going down their street firing into their homes.
The only right conclusions to draw from this evil event is first of all that the person responsible for those deaths is the gunman himself who chose to commit an evil act of murder. Secondly, that there needs to be more done in the US to stop people being able to get easy access to dangerous weapons.
For Christians, the lesson is this. Be careful that you don’t become so attached to a political position other than the Gospel which leads you to saying stupid and shameful things. Consider the honour of the Gospel when you think and speak.