In his November 2013 Metro Lutheran commentary, “Gun, but not forgotten” (page 4), Pastor Paul Harrington makes a passionate plea for stricter gun control legislation as the primary means of addressing gun violence. While acknowledging his best of intentions, Harrington, nevertheless, is dreadfully mistaken in focusing on the symptom (i.e. murders committed by guns) rather than the problem (i.e. the underlying causes for the murders).
If, as proponents insist, gun control legislation truly addresses the problem, then how does one explain the stark contrast between two municipalities of similar size and socioeconomic status?
“The profile of the shooter,” Harrington notes, “has become almost predictable … often a male loner … from a broken or otherwise dysfunctional home.” What Harrington accurately describes is a complex human behavioral problem that is, tragically, continually swept under the rug in preference for a quick fix remedy of the symptom in the flawed belief that the solution lies in the mere removing of the weapon-of-choice for the evil misbehavior. Duck Dynasty star, Si Robertson, puts it succinctly: “It ain’t gun control we need, its sin control” (Men’s Journal, October, 2013).
This obsession with symptoms rather than problems is perhaps best illustrated by those insipid “No Guns Permitted On These Premises” signs — routinely sneered at by intended killers while disarming law-abiding citizens. One can only imagine the number of killings and injuries that might well have been prevented last year at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, if just one concealed handgun owner could have taken out the perpetrator of such a heinous crime.
If, as proponents insist, gun control legislation truly addresses the problem, then how does one explain the stark contrast between two municipalities of similar size and socioeconomic status? Houston, a city of few gun laws, has half of Chicago’s murder rate despite the Windy City’s strict gun policies.
It’s all in the question
Ironically, I am in somewhat agreement with Harrington’s closing remarks. “Sadly,” he writes, “some of the more radical gun enthusiasts seem to have no faith in our nation, its leaders, its laws … ” During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings four years ago, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was asked a simple and fundamental question: “Do you have a personal opinion … of whether or not in this country I personally, as an individual citizen, have a right to self-defense?” Her answer was ominously telling: “I … as I said, I don’t know.” So, yes, I am one of millions of concerned citizens naturally skeptical of the judiciousness of government authorities.
While I habitually and earnestly pray for our government leaders, I am continually exasperated by their inability to distinguish between problems and symptoms. This lamentable difficulty of discernment has had monumental consequences for our society. The issue of gun control is a case in point.
Tim Utter is an admissions counselor at Concordia University, St. Paul.