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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gun Control...A Necessary Mistake

As I write this, I’m trying to place respect for the children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut who lost their lives in December 2012 above all things. They deserve that if nothing else from me and everyone else so please remember that I’m not denying what happened or the atrocity therein. I am, in fact making every effort to use it to prove a point. I give my shout out now to them and will in my own way do my best to honor and respect their memory and not defame or profane them in any way. That being said, to the families of those who lost their lives, both children and adults, you have my condolences and my assurances that I grieve and rejoice with you. I grieve because there is a time and a place for all things and all purposes. I rejoice because there are those of us for whom the race was run and they are now in a place where they feel no pain, only joy. Perhaps we could all be so lucky and one day, we will be. Thank you, Jesus for Your infinite and unconditional love and for bringing home those for whom the mission was accomplished. Well done, young ladies and young gentlemen, well done and a race well run.

Each time something like this happens, all of us humans as a people are taken by surprise. It’s as if we don’t understand or can’t fathom that something this tragic could possibly happen. It probably has something to do with the idea that we can’t find it within ourselves to believe that something like this could happen because we don’t have it cross our minds that anyone in the human race could have those kinds of dark or gory and unappealing thoughts. A generally balanced individual does not have or will not give those thoughts sway so it does not occur to them that someone else might have those thoughts or listen to that lie. I can assure you, I have seen some of the darkest aspects of life, even American life and some of the blackest reaches of the human heart and I can promise you unequivocally, humans as a general rule are fairly good. Even though not one person among us does not make a mistake and have to suffer all the consequences and rewards of our choices, there are inevitably loose canons that will go off the deep end. It is both undeniable fact and unvarnished truth. It won’t be avoided so we might as well accept it. With a population as large as the world has now, there will be that percentage that will be crazy or dysfunctional. We can’t stick that in a dark corner and forget about it and we can’t just write it off as another statistic. It happens; deal with it.

Each time we have a tragedy of this magnitude there is also a greater outcry about gun control. I know my stance on gun control might be contradictory to my opinion but I believe in the idea of gun control for a time and if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me for a few moments, I’ll tell you why. I believe that both history and statistics have shown that increased gun control is largely ineffective but I believe that we as a people need to learn that the hard way. We are not looking at historical examples to show us what we should do and why. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that history repeats itself because we weren’t listening the first time.

In support of this point, I believe that the Prohibition Era is a prime example and one we should all look to for a greater understanding of the outcome of stricter gun control laws. Did the Prohibition Era laws actually stop the distribution and sale of alcohol? Quite simply put, the answer is no. The Prohibition Era gave rise to things like moonshine as well as moonshine runners and speakeasy’s. It was in a way, among our first examples of the black market, historically speaking. The Prohibition Era did not effectively stop alcohol consumption or distribution. Instead, it effectively gave money into the hands of people to whom money was more important than respect for the law.

Let me also point to a more modern example and one that affects the lives of Americans on a daily basis; the War on Drugs. Narcotics are a part of everyday life for so many people and the criminalization of recreational use has not stopped the distribution or sale. Let’s examine the most prominent example shall we? Marijuana. Put quite simply, the law provides for regulation and criminal punishment for the distribution, possession, cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana and the associated paraphernalia. Has that stopped not just the use, but the steady violation of all aspects of the law regarding marijuana possession? No. Has expanding the definition and meaning of law to include terrorism stopped it? Again, the answer is no. It has instead, fueled the black market and placed a drain on our currently struggling economy with respect to the criminal prosecution of possession and sale. Succinctly stated, people who are determined to get stoned will find a way to possess marijuana and use it regardless of the letter of the law. They will also pay the prices demanded by the person or persons who have what it is they seek.

Don’t mistake me; I’m not advocating use and possession of illicit drugs or alcohol in disregard to the law. I use these examples to show and prove a point, which is simple. To increase gun control laws is roughly to the same end or the same point and purpose as the regulation or criminalization of illicit drug or alcohol use. To be perfectly blunt, it won’t work. It is impossible to write laws to impose a code of conduct on the lawless. It’s unreasonable and unrealistic to assume that imposing written moral boundaries or laws on those for whom those boundaries and laws are either secondary or don’t exist will be the solution to the problem. Those people will instead go to other people who will supply what it is they seek and will pay the prices demanded. They will effectively disregard the law and the consequences involved and also will pour money into the black market which is not the solution. It is, in fact, the problem.

It’s at this point I’ll ask the same questions everyone else is asking. What then is the solution? Where does the line get drawn between an effective solution and an exacerbation of the problem? What can we do to stop tragedies like the Newtown, Connecticut shootings? The simple answer is that there is no solution and no real way to stop these things from happening because gun control must be the choice of the person wielding the gun. Does a gun choose where the barrel is pointed or have a say in the direction of the bullet? Does a gun have to bear the consequences of the actions of the person who pulled the trigger? The question keeps revolving in my head: Should anyone even have to ask these questions or bring up these points? Last but not least, when did it become acceptable for the many to make the choices for the few?

These questions are not truly as difficult to ask as they are to answer and I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t have all the answers. I do however believe that the only way to prove that gun control won’t work is to actually write the laws to impose the gun control. Perhaps then the ultimate truth of the matter will be revealed and that truth is simple, the only effective gun control is solely at the behest of the person holding the gun. It is at that point that they have a choice to make and if they’re determined to pull the trigger with or without regard to the consequences or repercussions of their actions, they will pull the trigger and fire the weapon. That’s the choice they’ve made. They will have already crossed that moral boundary and written laws will have no effect whatsoever on them because one must first be willing to recognize moral boundaries for written or ethical boundaries to be of any consequence or weight. They will have already listened to the lie in their conscious and recognized and related to it. They will have agreed with the lie and to them, it will have become truth. Then that truth will have become their reality and their choice will fall in line with their reality and their truth.

Innocent blood has been spilled and for that, I’m sure that Christ mourns with the rest of us. I’m also sure that His rejoicing is for those who went home. I’m equally sure that His love for the one who pulled the trigger and spilled the blood is no less unconditional than it is for those of us who wouldn’t ever, in a million years, think of having that blood on our hands. He is no respecter of persons.

We might also ask ourselves, what lesson is it that we should learn from this? On a personal level, that lesson is that I should rejoice and trust the decisions of One who is greater than I. I was also brought about to the conclusion that gun control is necessary for a time to prove a point and better enable all of us to arrive at the same reasonable conclusion, that it’s simply a way to grant comfort and hope. It’s not that it’ll work effectively or that it will help fix anything. In fact, the opposite is true but I do know that we need to learn this for ourselves. We need to make the mistake in order to learn from it.

We are an imperfect nation of people trying to make a perfect society but we need to learn the difference between trying to hammer into others our own definition of perfection and instead concentrate on making ourselves the examples of the maturity and perfection that we seek to impose on anyone else. We must first seek to remove the plank from our own eye, each one of us respectively, so that we might remove the mote from the eye of our family members in this human condition. We must recognize our own faults before we seek to point out the faults in others and we must carefully consider the ramifications of our actions before making any rash maneuvers.

So it is with the greatest grief and a heavy heart that I choose to agree with gun control for all the reasons I have already stated. Even on a temporary or experimental level, perhaps it will teach us to acknowledge the facts and open our eyes to that which we choose not to see. We have no other choice. We must learn a lesson and we must pay the price for our own shortsightedness. Our rash actions and uninformed decision making will cause greater consequences than that which we are prepared to fathom but it is what must be done. Increased gun control will not stop rampage killings like that of Newtown, Connecticut but if it’s what makes the advocates feel better for a time, then that is a necessary evil.

Just remember that when the rampage killings don’t stop, don’t blame the weapon. Place the blame and accountability on the person who made the choice to use it because that person will get a weapon in accordance with their choice and they will use it in a manner that they see fit. You can write laws that will impose a code of conduct on those who choose to obey the laws but you can’t stop a person from thinking and if a person thinks to disobey the law, they will act on it. I would think that history would have taught us that at the very least.

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