I’m Done Agreeing To Disagree About Assault Weapons

I’m struggling with what, if anything, to say about yesterday’s shooting here in California, that will be constructive.

Yeah, struggling.

Back in 2007, after the Virginia Tech shooting, I wrote on my old blog:

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” What other industry, what other lobby, what other interest would be allowed to simply explain away the cause of killing so glibly without some kind of public outcry or legislative avalanche? What other product has to defend itself against the connection between itself and lots and lots of killing?

Nearly nine intervening years and–God help us–countless mass shootings later, we still don’t have satisfactory answers to those questions.

I belong to the Reformed branch of Protestant Christianity, which has always been characterized by a unashamed engagement in public life in pursuit of Biblically-inspired goals like care for the poor, justice, and equality, without the concurrent aim of imposing Christian mores on the society as a whole. The Reformed tradition has always seemed to me like a middle ground between withdrawal into a pietistic enclave and working for a “Christian” culture.

That’s context for this: allowing citizens to purchase assault rifles makes our public life less safe, and the insistence upon that right as inalienable is literally killing us. This is no longer a subject about which people of good will can disagree. If daily mass shootings are a price you’re willing to pay to ensure that citizens can purchase assault weapons unobstructed, you’re not a person of good will.

Seriously, an Assault Weapons Ban has to be a non-starter at this point. If you’re opposed to that, I don’t see what common ground we have. Agreeing to disagreeing is allowing more people to die. I won’t do it anymore.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Done Agreeing To Disagree About Assault Weapons

  1. It makes sense to me to ban assault weapons. And yet, would it actually do anything? There is this article from last year in the NYT that argues that the previous ban was minmally effective. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/sunday-review/the-assault-weapon-myth.html?_r=0

    Of course, minimally effective is preferred to non-effective, or doing nothing.

    I wonder if what we really need is a values revolution. There are millions of gun owners around the world who do not use their weapons to harm others. Is it the guns, or lack thereof, or their values? When one values human life, as we in the Reformed tradition do, it becomes a check on our most violent impulses. And since we are fallen and live in a fallen world, each one of us has violent impulses. We don’t know much about the San Bernardino murderers, but it does seem that one of the common traits in all of these mass killers, here or abroad, is that they do not value the lives of others, nor their own lives.

    These shootings make my heart sick, and my heart angry at the same time. And the easy sound bite shibboleths on both sides of this argument depress me.

    How badly do we need the Prince of Peace?

    BTW, there should be something coming to you from Sports Illustrated. Let me know when it arrives.

    1. Jim, you are a generous, generous friend. The Sports Illustrated commemorative issue about the Royals World Series championship arrived, and I have devoured it cover-to-cover. I hope to have the opportunity to send you a Giants one again soon, since I missed my chance last year (through my tears).

      I’m with you on the need for a values revolution, but I’m increasingly depressed about how to bring that about. And if values language allows us to forestall any political action, I think we’re culpable.

      Glad to have you as a conversation partner, friend.

  2. I stand with you on this, Rocky. No situation justifies owning assault rifles. What’s next NRA? Lobbying to lower the ownership age? Allowing the purchase of RPGs? Where does it end? Stolen guns are many times stolen from “law abiding citizens”. And they get passed along and used in crimes. Everyone arming themselves doesn’t seem to be working, does it?

    Thanks, Rocky.

  3. I agree totally! I see no purpose in allowing assault rifles other than killing people. That’s what they’re designed to do but we have to take it a step further. Our society is sick. That needs to be addressed or the killing won’t stop even without assault rifles.

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