Those Who Take Up Guns Will Die By Guns

One of the first acts a fearful person takes is to buy a gun, according to a Chapman University study on Americans and fear.

Jesus didn’t think much of fear, or of going out and getting a weapon.

When he sent out his disciples, he told them directly that they would be targets, one step away from becoming victims. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves,” he says, and yet cautions, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matt. 10:16, 28)

And even when Jesus faces his own arrest, he resists violence that comes from fear. One of his followers leapt up with a sword to attempt to serve and protect Jesus. But Jesus commands him to put the weapon down, cautioning that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt. 26:52)

When violence hides in plain sight, however, it can be hard to see.

A video PSA was published and started circulating earlier this week about an emerging relationship between two teenagers, with the hook of a surprising ending. Watch and see:

It makes a powerful point about how easy it can be to overlook the warning signs of gun violence, particularly when one is looking for something else. Also particularly when signs of gun violence aren’t considered something to watch out for.

According to some, more guns are a good thing, because they are 80x more likely to be used “to protect a life than to take one.”

Can someone explain to me how the use of a gun protects a life? This is a serious question.

The NRA put out an article last week defensively attacking “elites” who are, according to the NRA, unjustly deciding what constitutes real news vs. fake news. The underlying question is one of trust, and of fear. Clearly we can’t trust anyone, indicates the NRA.

And thus the fear machine chugs steadily along.

This same fear machine drives the gun industry.

Certainly there are private citizens who purchase and use firearms for sport not driven by fear. Certainly there are military and law enforcement personnel who use their weapons cautiously and in order to serve and protect Americans against enemies, both foreign and domestic.

But when I hear someone clinging to their gun in self-defense, I hear fear. In order to feel a need for self-defense, someone must believe that there is someone or something to defend against. They must believe they are a target, one step away from being a victim.

Fear is a powerful emotion.

Not only that, but fear is a powerfully motivating emotion.

In order to end America’s worship of guns, those of us who resist fear as a way to live must reshape the narrative of terror. In the 2015 film “Inside Out,” Disney/Pixar sensitively and somewhat humorously illustrated what it looks like for a person to be driven by fear as the dominant emotion.

Fear is a powerful, necessary, and helpful emotion that cues a survival response which may keep us safe. But at what cost? If a shooter chooses “my” life over “your” life, they are still taking a life, not defending or preserving one.

So if one of the first acts a fearful person takes is to buy a gun, I wonder what might be the first act of a hopeful person?

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5 thoughts on “Those Who Take Up Guns Will Die By Guns

  1. Great post. We live in such fearful times but I get no comfort from the thought that I’m free to purchase a gun. It makes me more sad to think that so many people feel that guns are the answer to calming their fears. More guns breed more violence which in turn creates more fear. It truly is a viscous cycle.

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  2. Great post, Bethany. Loved the video. I think you are so right about this: “when I hear someone clinging to their gun in self-defense, I hear fear. In order to feel a need for self-defense, someone must believe that there is someone or something to defend against.” Fear is the opposite of love. You can’t do both at the same time, so to fear someone is to choose not to love that person. Not God’s plan. Not the message of Jesus.

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  3. Good post. But I disagree. Clearly whites and blacks live in two different America’s. And the America where people of color live is a fearful one, and now even more fearful with the election of Trump.
    But I don’t think fear is always necessarily a bad thing if it is also partnered with reason. Because the fear that you describe might also be caution with the goal of self-preservation. As a person of color, that’s my world. But your post was thought provoking. Thank you.

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  4. Where to begin? Bethany, I really love this post. I think I listed another as my favorite of yours, but they’re all so good. Revisiting this one to comment has helped me appreciate it even more. My boys have beeb obsessively watching Inside Out lately, which I appreciate, because I think it’s a powerful animated film and is helpful for my little guy who is on the autism spectrum. My youngest has a lot of anxiety (he comes by it honestly, takes after his mom) and I am always telling him to be brave because love is bigger than fear. I’m not sure he gets it yet, but he seems to walk taller after the reminder. The way you ended this is really perfect: “So if one of the first acts a fearful person takes is to buy a gun, I wonder what might be the first act of a hopeful person?” You’ve definitely done great work here and I’ll be thinking about this for some time. Thank you!

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