Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Exec. Director
If you think that after the tragic shooting in Texas this past Sunday that gun laws are going to change in America, think again. They won’t. Collectively we thought that after New Town, things would change. They didn’t. After the Pulse shooting in Orlando, people called for change. Nothing happened. After hundreds were gunned down at a country music concert, the nation mourned, but that’s all that happened. And after Texans were slain while in the most sacred of spaces, nothing will happen yet again. And why? Because somewhere along the line we have accepted the premise that 2nd Amendment Rights should trump the promise of the Declaration of Independence which states that ALL of the citizens of this noble republic can cling to the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The simple, selfish truth is that the right to bear arms has a greater place in the hearts of our nation than the desire to offer people a nation where the well-being and safety of every citizen matters.
When will we admit, that not everyone should have the right to own or possess a firearm? There are many who should have forfeited that right out of violence, criminal history, domestic disputes, or mental instability. We cannot allow ourselves to continue to advocate for gun rights over human rights. Consider the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention just this week. In a spirit of compassion, they have offered to pay for all of the funeral services for the victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre. While having the generosity to respond to a need, they lack the courage to act politically. They are unwilling to decry gun violence or enter the political debate to enact stricter gun laws. Doesn’t it make better sense to encourage change at the ballot box than it does to wipe up the blood of those slain because of inaction?
All of us can recite the rhetoric of the gun proponents. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” or, “If you take away all the guns, then only the criminals will have guns.” The truth of the matter is that guns do kill people whenever they are placed in the hands of the misguided, the angry, the disturbed, or the revenge-seeker. And no one can deny the enormity of the problem. There are currently an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands here in the U.S. An additional 4.5 million are sold each year. When that many people have guns, the potential for someone to become victimized grows exponentially. Each year on average, 111,779 people are shot in America by a firearm. 32,964 of them will die. Of those committing suicide each year, 20,511 do so with a firearm. It’s easy to do the math. In the past 10 years, over a million Americans have been shot and nearly 350,000 Americans have died as a result. And yet politicians lack the courage to even remotely consider better legislation. Who are they pretending to protect?
Why is it so unrealistic to legislate stricter gun control laws? Why is it so hard to take a commonsense approach to the sale of military-style assault rifles? Why is it not the law of the land that certain criminal infractions should force the immediate surrender of firearms and the prevention of future firearm sales to those individuals? Why is it not considered child neglect when guns and rifles are not stored safely and securely in each home? No, I’m not coming to take away your guns. I’m not suggesting that the government needs to do so either. But I am saying that until we are willing to legislate better gun laws and enforce greater compliance concerning those who have forfeited the right to own a gun, that mass shootings, be they in churches, schools, movie theatres, or night clubs, will continue to be the norm and not the exception. May God grant us the wisdom to think rationally, act wisely, and live respectfully.