Mass Shootings: Christian Perspective on Prevention and Reaction

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I am posting this here over from a facebook status update I put up this morning that created a pretty lengthy conversation. Here is a little bit of my perspective on this. You can put armed guards all over the place and that will deter crime. That is on the prevention side of the equation. If you bring people to Christ and give them a place to belong/transform lives to be more Christ like, that is also on the prevention side and that gets deeper into the root causes of these things. You can also treat mental illness as preventative means. But you will never get everyone and you will never prevent everything. We can reduce these things (and have over the last 5 years as violent crime has gone down every year since 2007) but we will never eliminate them.

Second, we have to differentiate between addressing symptoms and addressing the actual problems. Armed guards and legislative action by the government are aimed at symptoms, not the actual underlying condition. You cannot legislate immoral people to be moral people. You cannot legislate the heart or spiritual transformation. When all you do is address symptoms instead of getting under the surface and address the real root causes you will be largely ineffective. It is like trying to dry up a runny nose when there is an allergen that is actually causing the nose to run. You keep going outside and playing in piles of leaves and keep taking your runny nose medication until you are blue in the face. It is just not an effective way to treat the real, underlying issue. There will be some effect, sure but it won’t be as big of an effect as we might desire.

Third, the church is the missing piece here. The church works on the prevention end (changing lives) and informs the reaction end (how do we present ourselves when these things happen). The church/Gospel can do more than slap bandaids on severe lacerations…we can and do change lives. I am sure there are names of people who would have done similar things as these mass murders but were reached by a Christian somewhere and got their lives turned back around.

Hopefully some of that perspective is helpful.

12 Responses

  1. When we have people trying to bomb mass transportation or fly airplanes into buildings, did Christians respond by throwing up our hands & lamenting the human condition?

    Do we approach any other problem with this kind of logic? “People are going to speed, so why even have speed limits?” “People are going to try to cheat the market, so why even have an SEC?”

    Smart gun legislation, better mental health care, & a reduction of violent media won’t end this problem, no. But that should not be the threshold any piece of legislation has to meet to help form a more perfect union.

    1. Am I wrong in reading your post as discouragement of government action on this issue?

      I think it’s unfair to characterize my commentary of your post as “complete anarchy.” I think it’s odd (agonizingly odd) we apply one set of logic to one set of issues & an entirely different approach to another societal ill.

      I’m for smart laws. I think banning assault weapons & large magazine clips is a smart law. It’s tricky, yes, in terms of enforcement — there are lots of issues. But it’s a smart law. I also like concealed carry. I think that’s a smart law. Anti-gun people don’t like it, but it’s a smart law. I think open carry (the new Oklahoma law) is the opposite of a smart law. I don’t like it. I’m for smart laws.

      Also, to further explain my point of view, I like guns. I think it’s important that everyone in this discussion explain what they think about guns. Because some people never get beyond the base prejudice of “I like guns” or “I don’t like guns” in this discussion. I like guns.

  2. Let me address your point even more specifically. Here is one law that I wish we would enact. Close the gun show/private sale loophole. I don’t get why anyone can buy a gun via private transaction without using an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed dealer). It makes no sense. They should require all purchases of firearms to go through an FFL. When you do that, you would require both parties to go to a local gun shop that has the FFL, have them hold the gun, pay the fee (roughly $35), that would have them go through the background check/waiting period and have the gun cleared (not stolen or used in a crime to the knowledge of law enforcement). That is a win/win for everyone involved. The seller gets peace of mind that the buyer isn’t a criminal and that there gun probably won’t get used in a crime. The buyer gets peace of mind that the gun isn’t stolen or used in a crime. The gun shop makes a few bucks off the transfer fee. I would welcome this if I was going to buy a gun from someone. I get piece of mind for a very small fee. What is keeping us from doing that?

    1. Smart laws, yes of course. Problem is we can’t ever get politicians to see beyond politics. To be perfectly clear, I like guns too. I also think open carry is not a smart law. I am quite comfortable with guns and when I have seen civilians open carry it made me uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable a non-gun enthusiast would feel.

    2. That would be a very smart law to pass. I too own several guns (hunting rifles) but I am supportive of not only better regulation on the ownership and use of guns but also strict restrictions on the buying/selling and ownership of assault riffles and accessories (including the importation of such products into the U.S.).

      But we can’t even get congress to come to an agreement on how to deal with tax issues and spending. So I am very pessimistic on any chance that congress and the POTUS will accomplish anything substantial regarding such gun issues.

      Grace and Peace,


      p.s. I appreciate your posting this and your comments on your FB wall.

  3. I appreciate you posting more about this today. I just find it a tad callous for us to approach this problem with the attitude, “Well- what can you do?” I don’t think it honors the victims of the shootings. Certainly nobody said such after al-Qaeda flew planes into buildings.

    And guns aren’t the only issue. They’re one leg in an unholy cocktail that includes mental health issues & violence in our media. It’s kinda crazy how clear of a profile we have of the triggermen in these mass shootings — Va. Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, Sandy Hook. They all played first-person shooter video games. They all have mental health issues. And they all have legal access to assault weapons / guns with large clips.

    No, the problem isn’t curable. But we’ve identified it & it’s treatable. And preventable.

  4. More gun laws will do NOTHING to control these type of events. There were already laws in effect. He broke them all.

    We as a society do nothing to prevent these type of events. We encourage them.
    Laws don’t prevent them because we don’t enforce them.

    1. I will have to go back and look up the numbers again but we already had an assault weapon ban under Clinton and a ban in various high capacity magazines. Look at crime before the law, during and after the law. You will see it did nothing. It did nothing because the weapons they target are not typically used in violent crimes. It is all politics with little concern over actually being and proving effectiveness.

  5. I think your third point gets overlooked by too many Christians. When we say, “We need to do something about this,” the “we” in question is almost never the church. (stole that idea from Lee Camp, if I remember correctly)

    Christians need to focus on the UNIQUE contributions we can make to these discussions. Rather than arguing based on the 2nd amendment, we need to be arguing based on the Bible.

    1. “Christians need to focus on the UNIQUE contributions we can make to these discussions. Rather than arguing based on the 2nd amendment, we need to be arguing based on the Bible.”

      Excellent comment; thanks for that perspective. Too often we fail to look at situations first through that lens.

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