Newtown CT and the Second Amendment
In the wake of the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, CT, the national debate regarding gun control has come to the fore. Of course, this debate is nothing new. It has now been simmering for decades. But in light of the events of December 14, and the resultant remarks from President Obama, it appears the debate is about to come to a boil.
As someone who was born and raised (and still resides) in the Missouri Ozarks, I must confess the term "gun control" instantly elevates my blood pressure. I am part of a culture that holds responsible gun ownership among the most sacred of rights. And while I am not an active hunter, I do own multiple firearms, all of which have been passed down by family. I keep them to protect, and provide for, my loved ones if need be.
And while many of you can identify with that sentiment, I know there are others who just don't get it. Some are raised in families that are totally ambivalent to gun ownership. They're not necessarily anti-gun, they just never saw a need for one. Others are raised in settings where guns are largely associated with gangs, crime, and violence. They equivocate guns with that lifestyle, and can't understand why everyone doesn't want all guns removed from the streets. (Bob Costas gave voice to this view during his weekly segment on Sunday Night Football.)
While I don't agree with those who advocate gun control, I can understand where they are coming from, and why they feel the way they do. We have a violence problem in this country. It is epidemic and I don't know anyone who would deny that. My personal belief is that there are probably some common sense reforms that would be logical. (Of course the fear is that "common sense reforms" becomes a very slippery slope into full blown gun control.)
Being a pastor, I could also very easily delve into the spiritual factors behind America's violence problem. I think we all recognize the ultimate reform that's needed is a reform of the human heart. We do not have a gun problem so much as we have a sin problem - the only solution for which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But that is a blog for another day... Here's the main thing I want to communicate with this blog...
Regarding the gun control debate, one thing that I hope people understand is that when you start proposing legislation that affects people's right to "keep and bear arms" (the 2nd amendment), you're treading on very hallowed ground - namely, the Bill of Rights adopted by the very framers of our constitution to protect our individual liberties. The founding fathers considered gun ownership to be among the most fundamental and important rights a person can possess, right up there with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. This is why the Bill of Rights (and let this sink in) has NEVER been amended in the entire history of our country.
I would argue that those who advocate for gun control are in essence advocating for nothing less than the revision of the very Bill of Rights that is the cornerstone of every liberty you and I hold dear. (And perhaps that's what some think we need to do.) Others will claim I present a false dichotomy here - that it doesn't have to be "either or," that there are gun control measures we can take within the bounds of the second amendment. I don't know. I don't claim to be a legal expert.
All I'm suggesting is that we enter into this discussion with proper respect for our Constitution and the men who wrote it (who did a pretty darn good job by the way). Because at the end of the day, when you talk about the right to keep and bear arms, you're talking about a right they considered to be absolutely vital to personal freedom.