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Good Guys and Bad Guys

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Wayne LaPierre, the vice-President of the NRA, stated, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Whether we are gun-control activists or gun-rights advocates, as Christians, we cannot go along with Mr. LaPierre’s assertion.

We know that we don’t live in a black-and-white world where people are either good or bad. We live in a world where good people sometimes do bad things and where bad people can end up saving the day. We lift up as holy an entire book full of people who are neither all good, nor all bad–Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David, Solomon, Samson, etc, etc.  There is no way to guarantee that the “good” people we arm will always use firearms wisely and responsibly, because we know that we all have times when we are neither wise nor responsible.

The idea that we can and should stop violence with violence flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings and actions.  Can we arm ourselves  to the teeth for every possible contingency while still following the one who didn’t even resist the people who came to take him to his death and who prayed for God to forgive those who crucified him? If we are to be followers of Christ, our response to gun violence can’t be more gun violence.

While it may be people who cause the violence, we can’t deny that angry people with guns can do a lot more damage that angry people without guns.  In seminary I interned at a church in South Boston, sandwiched between two housing projects. I walked the streets without fear because the weapon of choice in Southie at the time was either a fist or a baseball bat, and while there were times when someone was beaten to a pulp, you didn’t worry about being the victim of a drive-by beating or a being killed by a stray fist.

In our church membership, we have a number of responsible gun owners. We also have those who actively work for stronger and more stringent gun-control laws. We all want the same thing–to feel safe. For our children to be safe. For our churches and schools and offices to be secure. And the truth is that there is no amount of fire power or any set of gun laws that can guarantee our safety.  So whether we fight for rights or rally for restrictions, let us not forget the words of Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Ultimately, our hope is in God–not in good guys, guns or government.

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