27 December 2012

The Only Thing that Stops a Bad Guy

by Dr Mark Keown

I could not believe my ears the other day when I was watching TV and heard Wayne LaPierre, the head of the US National Rifle Association in America say, ""the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."" I was torn between cracking up, crying, or screaming in John McEnroe style - ""You can't be serious.""

What is it with the US and their guns? How many mass killings will it take before the Americans act? I have heard some amazing things said about this. I heard one guy on Fox say that the problem is that the gun laws are too harsh! He suggested that if all teachers were armed, then this would not have happened. Make a good Tui's ad that one.

I do agree with Wayne LaPierre on a couple of things. In his speech he said that it wasn't just about the guns, it is about Hollywood and the care of those with mental health issues in the States. Absolutely. There should be a full-scale enquiry into gun laws, Hollywood and the mentally ill. What I don't get is that it seems to be America's ""Christian"" right that is so obsessed with the right to own a gun and to use it if necessary. As I read the Bible I read something different. I read of people not taking up swords (and guns) but of weapons being turned into plowshares and pruning forks (Isaiah 2:4). This seems to me about producing food rather than bloodshed. I read of Jesus renouncing violence, refusing to use it, and urging his people to do the same (e.g. Matthew 5; Luke 6). I hear Paul recognising the role of the Government in resisting evil on God's behalf (Romans 13:1-4), whereas believers are to live out of the pattern of the Cross, love, justice and peace (Romans 12:1-21). Christmas is about peace. Easter is about the end of violence. Resurrection life is a life that doesn't need a gun. Christian mission is not about the sword, but the Word, which is the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15,17).

So there is another thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, the power of the Gospel that changes a person from one who needs a gun, to one who lives out the Gospel. That said, one way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to make it harder for him to have the gun in the first place - isn't that a no-brainer? Or am I and the billions of others who are appalled at what is happening in the States missing something?

The other thing about all this stands out to me is yet unnamed is this. When was the last time you heard of a woman taking up arms and entering a college, mall, school or other public place in the USA and letting loose with semi-automatic weapons? Never I suspect. That is because this is a male problem, and mostly a problem with young men. What is it that causes young men to get so angry, and vent it with weapons on the innocent?

As a male I am appalled. I suspect it relates to poor parenting, absent fathers, broken and fragmented families. Perhaps it relates to the marginalisation of men who don't fit the stereotype of the jock. As I write I see another manifestation of this in India with the horrendous problem of rape across the nation.

Jesus and Paul came to bring a fresh vision of what it means to be men. It means to be people in touch with their emotions, unafraid to renounce venting their testosterone, and determined to live of the pattern of Christ; men of depth, courage, grace, mercy, justice, and non-violence who are not afraid to express pain in ways other than anger. We need more men like this. We need to get to the bottom of what is making young men so angry.

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