June 16, 2016

Of Guns and Crosses

I’m a Christian. There, I’ve said it.

When I out myself as such, I never know what to expect. Some people love me, some hate me (although they’re far too polite to say so), and some just don’t care.

Indeed, the unfavorable perception of my religion is not entirely undeserved. We all know a few grumpy religious hypocrites, don’t we? And of course, there’s the baggage of history: The Crusades, the Inquisitions, and so on. Without a doubt, some of the greatest criminal atrocities of all time have been committed in the name of Christ.

One thing for sure, these guys don’t speak for me. They’ve hijacked my religion, based on a false reading of my holy book. They don’t represent my beliefs or my politics. Further, most modern Christians will likewise quickly distance themselves from such things.

In recent years, as we know, some pretty horrible crimes have been perpetrated in the name of Mohammed. Thousands killed or injured. These terrorists truly believe that they’re saving the world from terrible heresies, Zionist aggression (their term, not mine), and Western worldliness.

And yet, if you were to visit the average mosque today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worshipper who endorses such doctrines. The terrorists have hijacked their religion, based on a false reading of their holy book. Those guys don’t speak for me, and they don’t represent my beliefs or my politics.

This week our nation once again mourns the slaughter of innocents, this time in Orlando. Seeing as the perpetrator used a big gun, and not a knife, our president thinks it’s time to pass more and more laws to restrict the sale and use of firearms. And on the other side, of course, is the NRA; they still firmly believe that guns should be traded freely, with almost no restrictions.

But one of my earliest lessons as a young child, was that the path of wisdom is rarely found in extremes.

What American city has the most restrictive gun laws? It's Chicago. What American city has the most gun murders, year after year? It's Chicago. I wonder if our president has ever been there. (Contrast this situation to Houston, which makes it easy to get a gun permit; gun violence is rare.)

As for me, I have no dog in this fight. I have fired guns a few times in my life, but I have never owned one. Yet at the same time, I have no quarrel with those who do. My wife and I both have dozens of gun freaks in our respective families; mine in Texas, and hers in Virginia. If you’re a 16 year-old boy, you have a truck with a gun rack. That’s just how it is.

When our founding fathers ratified the Second Amendment to guarantee our right to bear arms, I can’t imagine that they had machine guns in mind. Our citizens needed to protect their property and hunt for food, but an automatic rifle is good for neither.

Indeed, the bad reputation of firearms is not entirely undeserved; but that doesn’t make them evil. What our nation needs now, is for gun owners to come forward en masse and plead for sanity. We need reasonable regulations to protect us from the nut jobs who shoot up schools and nightclubs. They must pack the halls of Congress and shout with all their might:

“These criminals have hijacked my cause, based on a false reading of our national charter. They don’t represent my beliefs or my politics.”

How’s that for a reasonable middle ground?

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