The Gun Issue Again: My Rights and Your Soul
So here we are again with flags at half staff and crying crowds holding yet another candlelight vigil. In the midst of the violence that is woven into our culture, we now have a subtotal of seventeen school shootings in the last year. Since the shootings at Sandy Hook school, there have been 239 school shootings, resulting in 438 people being shot and 138 killed.
I do not even want to go into another list that would include other shootings, like the one in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. So, now there will be more fireworks of words from broken-hearted people and some politicians who will try to scream our way forward. If history repeats itself, after the fireworks we will get back to business as usual and nothing will change.
We will hear the familiar debate about the “right” to bear arms. It seems sown into the very fabric of our national DNA as well as our Constitution. I know that, but what about our “need” to heal our soul? We are told that guns are not the problem and new guidelines are not what are needed. Well, something is needed if we are to be a people who care what is happening, especially to our children.
The word compromise is lost in our contentious culture. We need some compromise, if for no other reason than to respond in some way to our collective soul, if we still have one. I once read that when it comes taking faith into the real world, there would often need to be compromise, but that in order to remain faithful, one must strive to compromise up and not down.
How about using that as a doorway to respond to the carnage at schools and elsewhere? Banning assault weapons, doing comprehensive background checks, and closing loopholes at gun shows does mean a kind of “giving up” of rights, but it would be for the sake of our collective soul. Would it make a difference? Some say no, and others say yes.
What I hope is that it would impact the real situation. But if it did not make a difference, at least it would make a statement that we as a people care enough about our children to speak from our soul to our soul. The statement would be something like, “I give up some of my rights for the sake of the common good.”
Most types of guns would still be available for the sake of sport and protection. The fear that giving up some rights means giving them all up is simply that: fear. Lowering the flag does not help. Lowering the fear ratio and providing a peace offering, at least, helps us say who we are.
In our culture, we have allowed fear to rule too often. Fear breeds a “don’t tread on me attitude.” Because we have the right to do something does not mean that we should do it. To offer a compromise on some rights would be, in this case, a compromise up and not down.
One argument that is often voice is that people kill people, not guns, and that the issue is mental illness that turns into violence. The truth is that both are true. Mentally ill people who turn violent do use guns to kill people.
The gun issue has become a heated political debate. In light of what has happened in our nation over the past years, it is a soul issue that portrays what we believe about community. Am I willing, for the good of the community, to give up something that I have the right to have?
At least it is doing something, rather than doing nothing, which is what we have done in the face of the horror we have witnessed. It is time to say something about our character, not just about our rights.
Dr. Jody Seymour
Jody Seymour retired after serving Davidson United Methodist Church as Senior Pastor for 13 years and being a pastor for forty-six years in the Western North Carolina Conference. He is the author of six books and resides just outside of Davidson with his wife, Betsy.