Gun Appreciation or Gun Worship? What Would Jesus Say?
Well just when you think you’ve heard everything about the American gun culture, along comes a headline that blows your mind away, well not literally (I just had to say that). It seems to have gone from the ridiculous to the absurd.
Saturday was ‘Gun Appreciation Day’ in the United States of America, or as I call it, ‘Gun Worship Day’. I’m sure the founding fathers must be turning in their respective graves wondering what kind of monster they’ve created with the Second Amendment. During this new national event meant to celebrate guns, five people were shot at three separate gun shows, venues meant to welcome gun owners, gun lovers, and entire families who enjoy shooting as a family sport. A family sport? Really? When I think of a family sport, I think of skiing.
FreakOutNation parodied the event this way: “Five people were shot today on Gun Appreciation Day. Five people were shot today on Gun Appreciation Day. Sorry, I had to type that twice. I can’t get over it. Don’t judge me”.
The national event was promoted by a Republican consulting firm with the goal of encouraging rallies nationwide to oppose tighter gun controls. The January 19th event, asking people to support gun venues to show opposition to new gun laws, was sponsored by a white nationalist group, and other groups that have pushed a far-right agenda. With the multiple shooting accidents, the notion of a day to appreciate guns seems to have backfired. Oops!
The Sunday Edition of CBC Radio (Canada), with guest Saul Cornell (former Director of the Second Amendment Research Center, and the author of A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America) re-examined the Second Amendment:
“Passions run very high in the United States over guns – never more so than when someone uses them to wreak unthinkable carnage, such as the massacres that happened in a school in Connecticut last month, or in a crowded theatre in Colorado six months ago today.”
“In a country so traumatized by gun violence, many Americans seek comfort and security in ever more guns. Ever since the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 young children, guns have been flying off store shelves across the US. Teachers have been signing up for shooting classes. And more than 900 people have been murdered by killers using guns in the month since the Newtown massacre. That, as it turns out, is an average month in the US.”
Cornell maintains that a majority of Americans want to see some form of gun control and recognize that the Second Amendment does not preclude regulations surrounding the purchase and use of guns. Cornell believes that the NRA and gun lobbyists have “weaponized the Second Amendment.” The extreme conservative wing of the Republican party exhibits a “militant religious muscular Christianity ..not turn the other cheek, but turn the other cheek and pull your gun” as opposed to the more traditional Christianity of years gone by.
Tyranny of Fear
What kind of fear drives Americans’ intimate relationship with guns? There is often a reference to a “tyrannical government taking away our rights” or “taking our country back” or “needing protection”. This is delusional and frankly quite worrisome. See Blog Post - The Problem is not Guns, it’s People with Guns.
There exists a mistaken illusion that freedom and liberty – old glory, apple pie, the red, white and blue – can only be protected by packing guns. The popular thinking is that not only have guns kept America free but they are required to keep Americans safe.
But guns do not kill people. They are inanimate metallic objects. They are not sentient beings capable of moral deliberation. They cannot evaluate the targets they are pointed at. They cannot make decisions. They are killing machines used in wars or for hunting. They fire when their triggers are pulled by humans.
In The End of Faith, (Blog post, Chasing Sanity), Richard Harris highlights the religious zeal of Americans:
“According to recent polls, 22% of Americans are certain that Jesus will return to earth sometime in the next 50 years. Another 22% believe that he will probably do so…..more than 50% of Americans have a negative or highly negative view of people who do not believe in God and 70% think it important for a presidential candidate to be strongly religious. Only 28% of Americans believe in evolution; 72% believe in angels.”
So what will Jesus say to Americans when He returns? Will He tell them that they’re on the right path? Will He endorse the combination of religious energy with a gun culture that too frequently leads to lethal consequences? What will Jesus say?