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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why We Bear Arms

The recent tragedy at Virgina Tech has stirred up the ongoing debate on "the right to bear arms." The White House doesn't want to discuss the issue now, because the of fresh wounds, which I agree with to a point, however, people die everyday from gun violence so there will always be those who are mourning. Last time I checked, the number of shooting deaths in Philly for 2007 was about 118. The media is screaming gun control! and foreign countries are condemning us for our barbaric gun culture.
However growing up in a house with a Solider of Fortune Magazine subscriber, NRA member and hunter, I've seen the other side first hand as well. My house was FILLED with guns of all types and calibers and I never once thought of touching them. I can't remember a time when I didn't know the consequence of playing with guns. Even when I received my own rifle at age 11, I never took it out unless I was going to target practice. And despite depressing periods in my life when I was mercilessly picked on and felt unloved, I never considered using a gun on another human.
So why is it today kids immediately turn to guns? Why is murder and suicide such an appealing option to troubled people? Disgruntled employees, broken hearted lovers, bullied kids all turning to guns. Is it the violence that saturates our culture through the media and entertainment industries that inspire people? Is it the lack of faith which leaves people feeling like there's no other option, no one to turn to and nothing to look forward to? Is it a feeling of power one feels when wielding an instrument capable of death?
Without knowing the cause, we can't change the effect. We can regulate and create all sorts of waiting periods but without changing the reasons that motivate people to turn to deadly force, like firearms, we will have little affect on the outcome. But because many of the problems that lead people down this dark path are ignored or condoned by society, I doubt any real solutions will be offered by anyone on Capitol Hill.
Broken homes, premarital sex, lack of faith and greed can lead to gun violence. Kids in gangs will continue to shoot each other regardless of a semi automatic weapons ban because they never grew up with a father figure and now they seek the approval of a gang plus the wealth that a drug dealer position provides them. You find me a gang comprised of those who came from a two parent Christ-centered family. Everyday it seems a man shoots his former girlfriend and/or his children, then kills himself. It's becoming common place. How many of these people are in married relationships? How many of these people entered into the holy sacrament of marriage? Not many if any. And school shootings; whether bullied students acting out or nuts on a rampage these are people who clearly feel there is nothing left to live for and wish to die. Where along the way did they lose faith in God, in His unending love and plan for them? Where along the way did people stop reaching out in charity and concern? But nowadays I guess, it's not cool to witness or even give a damn about someone who's a little different.
So who's to blame? People are always able to rise above their circumstances, however, lack of religious upbringing, peer pressure, abuse and neglect can leave people unable to resist the temptation of the devil. And when these behaviors (single parent homes, cohabitation, rejection of religious morals, etc. ) are endorsed by mainstream society we convince ourselves there has to be another reason for the violence. So we blame guns.
I don't know if gun control is the answer since the lack of control starts before the gun is ever picked up. It's a problem the federal government could only screw up more. It is a problem that can only be solved by those who reach out and love those around them.

"“I’m not going to let you guys fight one another,” I said. “If I have to get in the way, in between you, I will - even if it means that I get hurt.”

Clark shook his head at me and walked away, saying, “You’ll get beat bad if you do that. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.”

If there was one thing I said right tonight, it was what I said next. “You’re wrong. It is worth it. You are worth it.”

Later Clark apologized. Although things are still tense between the men in the house, at least we survived the night. One day down, an eternity to go. How long will it take us to put away our hatred of one another - our hatred of ourselves? How easily we fight, maim, and kill. Thank God that tonight, we found a different way! Thank God!"

Nate at Lamb & Dragon