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Wednesday, October 04, 2006 

Guns and The Amish School Shooting

I am tired of not writing. I have spent plenty of time away from my blog. I needed to get some perspective, be challenged, and consider writing some more relevant pieces than I had been previously. Hopefully, my blog will be marked with a tone that is both challenging and accepting and I really desire that those with whom I have intellectually sparred over the course of the past couple of months will visit and engage me as I have them. So with that, let me address a subject that I am tired of hearing about over the last couple of days . . . GUN CONTROL.

Before I begin, let me clearly state that I personally don't own a gun. I never have and I probably never will (except maybe my father's 9mm police service pistol that will never be shot nor loaded -- it still has the protective orange clip in it, which will remain there). I am not a big fan of guns and I have never shot one. I would go hunting, except I don't own land and no one has ever invited me, but I don't think I would keep a gun in the house even then. On a trip to Toronto I was impressed at how few gun deaths that city has had because the nation of Canada is generally handgun free. And I have always been in favor of legislation that does not violate the 2nd Amendment, but does stop criminals from obtaining guns.

Having said all that, let me clearly state that I am tired of all the blogs and editorials talking about gun control in the wake of the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania. The gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, obtained all of his guns legally and to my knowledge no legislation has ever been introduced that would have denied him access to any of the weapons he brought to the school that day. Many people would like to blame the NRA or the Republican Party for voting down potential laws that would have stopped such an act, but the truth is NO ONE has tried to enact legislation that would have even curbed the possibility of such an action one bit. If these people want to blame someone they are going to have to settle with writing commentaries denouncing the Founding Fathers who inserted into the Constitution the Second Amendment.

Now, does that mean I don't support legislation like the Brady Bill, which went into effect in 1994? Of course not! As I said above, I fully support government action that keeps guns out of the hands of criminals and away from children. But while the Brady Bill probably did help to curb some violence, it was powerless to stop Charles Carl Roberts IV from entering into a school in Pennsylvania and using his weapons to viciously kill children. And I believe those who are bringing this subject up right now ought to be honest about that. Instead of harping about how bad the NRA is or how much the Republican party is contributing to violence, why not talk about the real source of evil in the this situation - SIN.

The sinful condition, brought about at the Fall, is what motivates men to act in evil ways. In these last days we have seen an increase visually in what has always been present in the heart of man. Nothing man-enacted will curb violence. The only thing that will stop violence is a repentance of sin and a turning toward the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. The one thing that I have heard over and over again during the televised coverage of this massacre that we can all rejoice in is the attitudes and actions of the Amish people during this difficult time. The humility and Christlike grace that these people have shown in the midst of tragedy is compelling and glorifying to God. Never has the reality of the peace that Christ brings so dominated the news than in the last few days. And that is what I would like to see more Christian bloggers - left and right speaking out about. Let's talk about the reality of sin and the forgiveness extended to us by our Heavenly Father, not about legislation that will never change the impact of either of those two.

truly said, dr. no matter how much we "legislate morality," this can never change the heart, which is why the Church of Jesus Christ must not place their hope in the power of government, but in the power of God through the Holy Spirit to change the hearts and minds of people. "that is where our hope is in this country, and that is where our hope is in life."

daniel davis

On the political side of the issue, I'll just say that I've been infuriated--perhaps a slight overstatement--over the state of our federal government and the distortion of our constitution.

Regarding your focus, I'm glad to see what you've posted. I don't care much for the major media, so I don't see a lot of non-local news coverage. It's encouraging that they have given some time to the Amish response. From the headlines I've seen and what little I've read, I wonder if the shooter was mentally ill.

Over the last several years, I've had to remind myself that the greater the darkness, the more noticeable the light is.

Perhaps it's no coincidence (considering the Amish) that the other thing that's come to mind as I write this is the crass materialism that seems to have blinded the average American. I have a coworker that has ten (10) kids, and the nearly universal scoffing at that disturbs me.

Ok, I'll quit before I get more off topic.

I think we've put too much time into behavior modification and less into the transforming work of Jesus Christ.

anyway, great post. I love reading your blogs

On the radio this morning, Orlando Talk Radio AM 540, the talk host was asking, "Where are all the good baptists out there?" asking why there isn't more vocal outrage from baptists toward the kook baptist group from Kansas. As you may know, this group was going to protest at the funeral of the Amish girls who died.

I called in and was on the radio and said, "Hey we have condemned their tactics and their hate speech on numerous occasions. They have also been kicked out of any baptist association or convention of which they may have belonged to in the past. Because of local church autonomy, there is nothing else we can do."

Anyway, not exactly your post subject but in a backward way, still related.



As controversial as the gun control issue seems, the elephant in the room is always the doctrine of sin - a truth that scares people much more than even the most lethal weapons.

Glad to have you back Mr. Randle!

You mentioned "in these last days." You might be interested in reading, POSTMILLENNIALISM AN ESCHATOLOGY OF HOPE by Keith A. Mathison. It presents a wonderful and biblical view of things.

welcome back.

you know, in the end, you can never legislate morality. you can do the best you can, but at best it's just a band aid on the real problem. good job.

I like to shoot stuff. Real Hard.

If it bleeds, well, so much the better. I don't mind shooting robots, but not at point-blank range, because they tend to discharge a lot of electrical energy. Ouch! Getting shocked is not very cool.

But birds, bunnies, deer, grocery clerks—you know, whatever: that's pretty much pretty cool. Shooting stuff is like having a good conversation. It's like: Hey, how are you? BLANG!!! Oh, you've been shot. By me.

That's pretty cool.

I don't really shoot at live stuff unless I'm sure it's in season: like deer, or like pheasants, or like, maybe, quail, or like Republicans in this November's elections.

So, I try to keep it real. Homie.

You know how I roll, DL.

"H*ll yeah they're good!"

D. R., it's good to have you back. I am unconvinced that the 2nd Amendment is about individual gun ownership. The "well-order militia" clause is clearly controlling.

I think gun control would help the situation with the Amish and the 2 other school shootings that happened the same week. (100 since Columbine.) Would it have done away with original sin? Of course not. But, to steal a line from Molly Ivins (several years back), I'm not anti-gun, I'm pro-knife. If a crazy, fallen, sin-filled person wants to kill a bunch of kids in a school (or anywhere else), but has no access to guns, it's much harder. Walk into a school with a knife and determined to commit mayhem and MAYBE you kill one person before being overwhelmed--not 6 (in the Amish case) or more (unless you are one of those unkillable central figures in a slasher movie).

I was mugged with a knife in '84 and stabbed several times. I was put back together on the operating table. Would I have even made it to the hospital if the mugger had had a gun? If someone wants to sin by killing me, at least a knife makes them work at it!

But, although I favor stricter gun laws, I do agree that this is not everything. Our society is far more violent than many others--without being more fallen than these others. Switzerland, for instance, has gun laws as liberal as we do. But, per capita, Switzerland has VERY few gun deaths or even attempted murders. What would it take to move our society in that direction--with or without stricter gun laws?

We have more churches per capita, but also more violence. Something has gone wrong. Our society, even our churches, romanticize violence.

Welcome back to blogging, friend.

I appreciate the focus of this post and the truth that you share here. This fallen world is demonstrating the depravity and desperation that exists apart from God's divine plan. I am a (KY) Southern Baptist as well, pastoring a church plant and seeing that God honors truth being upheld and grace being taught over legalism.

Couldn't that argument work with abortion as well? I guess I've been nice too long huh?

But seriously. There are ways to legislate morality for some. We can't make the rules based on the exceptions can we? True, if someone wants to kill school kids or have an abortion we can't stop them. But, shouldn't we try to make it as difficult for them as we can?

It just seems like a bad argument for me. What do you think?

Howie Luvzus

D.R., its great to check this blog and see something other than "One Book Tag." Great post, keep 'em coming.

Great comments guys...thanks for checking my blog and the encouragement.

A couple of points to some commenters.

Michael, in the case of gun laws there seems to be some discussion of what the Second Ammendment means, but unfortunately I think the militia reading passed away with the Civil War, since after that State militias were pretty much meaningless. The Supreme Court's numerous decisions against State's rights have continued to weaken any possibility that such a reading could be revived, since such a decision would snowball into a separation of governments that has not existed since before the Civil War.

I am not sure where you were going with your point. I was not trying to argue that we SHOULDN'T write laws that presuppose a moral code, including those involving gun control. I am simply saying that to attempt to wrap the Amish School shooting into a argument for gun control is to miss the greater point. And I made that argument in light of the fact that this man perpetuated a crime that could not have been prevented under any gun law that has ever been proposed by any serious Congressman. All of the guns this man had were legally bought and neither the Brady Bill nor any other legislation even remotely speaks to such a case. The fact is that this man could have used hunting rifles to kill all of his victims had he not been able to obtain hand guns. The result would likely have been the same. THE PROBLEM IS NOT GUNS -- IT"S THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN. And that is my point. Those who would have us turn this tragedy into a discussion about gun control are missing the real point.

And I don't think this applies in any way to abortion. Abortion always results in the death of a human being. There is absolutely no greater good in choosing abortion, even in situations of rape or incest - still a person dies. However, in some parts of the United States, hunting is still a necessity (and honestly is very necessary for those of us living in urban environments that do not desire to run over deer with our vehicles). So, while handguns might be deemed illegal, all guns cannot be, since all guns do not produce a universal result. Thus, no moral equivalence with abortion, where the result is always the same.

Actually, D.R., many have made the case that the contemporary equivalent of "a well ordered militia" would be the National Guard. The implications are not that we would need to abolish all private gun ownership, but simply that such is not guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. So, if we wanted to outlaw many types of guns and make it much harder to get others, the obstacles would be POLITICAL (the power of the NRA, etc.) and not Constitutional. (The NRA tries never to challenge gun laws in court. It prefers to stomp candidates who want gun control.)

Again, of course this doesn't do away with sin--or mental illness, etc. But a crazy, sinful, totally depraved human being who wants to kill defenseless children has a much harder time armed with a knife or even a bow and arrow than with a gun. We can stop making it easier for mass murder.

Happy birthday, sucka.

Hey, Michael! I'm for making it harder for mass murder with guns! How do we get that started? Get lawmakers to make another law for everyone to ignore? Vote in lawmakers who don't pander to the NRA? Get criminals and citizens to voluntarily hand over all the guns in their closets including daddy's police revolver? Ya know what...I'll be the first in line if you can get all the illegal uh-hmmn folks who have guns to stand behind me on the first of May. C'mon, Michael...how do we do it? Legislation will not change the fallen man. Bravo Bro. Daniel! I love your blog on this sad sad point of human depravity. SelahV

1)Make it illegal to manufacture or import all these high caliber "cop killer" guns.
2) Go after the gun manufacturers and dealers who knowingly sell to criminals, etc. the way we went after tobacco.

3) Gun buy backs have had some success keep it up. Getting them turned over IS a problem--the same problem that nations have after civil wars. We should study successful cases there and copy.

4) Get churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. to preach against ownership of any but hunting guns and work to create a culture in which gun ownership is "uncool."

OF COURSE none of this wipes away fallen nature. That is a red herring, a logical fallacy. I never hear any conservative say, "We can't have laws against abortion because people's fallen nature will make them seek them anyway." Duh!

Law is always an imperfect tool, at best. If law were not imperfect, then THE LAW would have been sufficient and there would have been no need for One Greater than the Law to come. But we still need laws. Neither grace nor fallen nature takes away the need for traffic lights, for instance. With Bonhoeffer, we must distinguish between penultimate goods (like stricter gun control) and the Ultimate Good of the gospel.

The argument, we cannot do anything about problem x because we cannot "legislate morality," would have left segregation in place by confusing penultimate and ultimate goods.

We cannot cure violence in America with stricter gun laws--but they are surely ONE PART of the solution.

Michael, good rebuttal. I still say, I'll be the first in line when you get it all done and in place. These are great ideas, but I've heard it said that more people are killed every day by automobiles than guns. We gonna outlaw them next? don't think the abortion/gun comparison fits here. (I have no idea how to fix that mess since we let that worm out of the box) other than to keep preaching Jesus, making more precious babies, and loving the forgotten latchkey kids whenever they're bussed into church. On the gun issue, I'm still for taking my tax dollars and giving them to my local church so they can plant more seeds. selahV

Yes, more people are killed every day by cars. So, lowering speed limits, more safety features, etc. make perfect sense--stricter licensing, stronger penalties for driving under the influence, etc.

But cars are not DESIGNED to kill you and guns are. Cars, while often the instrument of accidental homicides, are only rarely used as murder weapons. So, we don't need laws making it harder for people to deliberately plow cars into schools, etc. Again, this apple and orange comparison is a red herring.

Michael: Red herring? In writing that is something an author places in a story to lead the reader into thinking on another line in the who-dunit mystery. Legalism of morality versus the human being's mind, soul and heart, I think is the real story here. If we spent more attention and money ministering to the broken spirits in this country and less politicizing every dot and tittle in our government(which definitely needs reworking)I think THAT would be a red herring worth pursuing. BTW, I love apples and oranges. Great vitamin C and fiber. SelahV

In the discipline of logic, a red herring argument is a distraction, a side-issue, or a false comparison between two issues. It is similar to the straw person argument where, not wanting to debate the actual position a person holds, one constructs a sillier argument (the straw person) and attacks that, instead.

Okay, then. Here's the argument as I see it. Sin (thou shalt not murder) versus laws to prohibit sin. At least that's what our host brought up. To our host, I agree. Hope that clears up the stench of my red herrings and topples all the strawmen. selahV

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About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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