Within minutes of what the media is touting at the 18th school shooting in only the first 45 days of 2018, politicians and social media “contributors” were calling for new gun control measures to prevent these horrific acts of violence. It was not a surprise to learn that the alleged shooter used a semi-automatic rifle (AR-15) with multiple magazines on hand to increase their ability to kill and maim. So, let’s just ban these kinds of rifles and magazines, right? Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and, now, Parkland to name a few locations where these “military assault rifles” have been used take dozens lives.
Here’s the problem: banning a type of gun, or all guns, will NEVER solve the problem of violence or prevent mass shootings. Let’s look at some salient points from history. Not a century ago, kids brought guns to school on a regular basis. We have accounts of kids in past times placing their rifles alongside coats and umbrellas in classrooms, yet there were no mass shootings. Why? What was different? It was not simply that the guns back then were less technologically advanced and less lethal. It was not that there were fewer guns in the hands of kids (which is probably not even factual). There’s something else. Something deeper.
Throughout history there have been murderous and violent people, many of whom were powerful (think King Henry VIII, Hitler, Stalin, etc.), but there are scant examples of individuals singlehandedly carrying out acts of mass violence. So, what’s different about the late 20th and early 21st Centuries? Is it the availability of guns and their technology? While the lethality of guns may make harming large numbers of people easier, guns were around for a long, long time prior to the emergence of these mass shootings in malls, movie theaters, churches and schools. Also consider that some of the most deadly acts of violence in America were not perpetrated with guns at all, such as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon and Oklahoma City bombings.
So, what should we do? What can we do? I will present a two word answer that many will balk at, deride me for, or dig up and try to use against me if I ever run for office (which I have ZERO aspirations of doing): The Gospel. We don’t need more gun control, we need more Gospel. And not the easy-believism, watered-down, accessory-like American “gospel,” but the life-transforming, Christ-centered and empowered, true, Biblical Gospel that changes hearts, communities and nations.
Here are a couple of quotes from Paul the Apostle to consider in light of the previously mentioned acts of violence:
Romans 1:28-31 (ESV) – “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (emphases mine)
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV) – “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (emphases mine)
The solution to gun violence, and all violence for that matter, is not more redundant and freedom-eroding laws that only law abiding Americans will follow. No, the solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the acknowledgement that there is a God to whom we are all accountable, that there is absolute truth and right and wrong, and that the human heart apart from the transforming work of Jesus Christ is desperately wicked. The way I see it is that there is an inversely proportional relationship to what Paul the Apostle calls the “suppression of truth in ungodliness” and the increase in evil. As the knowledge of God is suppressed in this nation more and more (school teachers and professors being of the predominant offenders), violence, disobedience, lovelessness and brutality will increase.
My heart breaks for everyone who has been affected by any of these acts of violence. I don’t want in any way to diminish the pain, or disrespect or dishonor the victims or their families; but I will say something that, if taken out of context, could appear harsh and even heartless, and it’s this: America is reaping what it has sown. God’s judgement is not idle, but “is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1:18, NIV)
Let’s set something straight: America is not a Christian nation. It’s a nation proud of its sexual immorality and perversion, murder of the unborn and over-indulgence. Until and unless there’s a third Great Awakening, we will continue to endure mass shootings and all kinds of other evil. John the Baptist’s call to action from Mark chapter one is a fitting one, and one those love the Lord and believe the Gospel should shout from the rooftops that souls might be saved from eternal destruction, and that America might shine as a beacon of hope, justice and peace: “repent and believe in the gospel.”