[Note: I actually wrote this on 1/3/13, and I've had it in my draft folder since then, showing that even now I'm posting this with a little trepidation.]
I've been hesitating from posting on the gun control debate, because I know my position, unlike so many other things I think (he says with snarky tongue firmly planted in cheek) will end up bothering people on both sides of the debate. But perhaps it's a guy like me that needs to say what I think, in hopes that someone out there, anyone, will refuse to take offense and decide that we need thoughtful conversation on all this, not the political cannonballing that has become all too common in our world.
Let me say that my comments are in no way meant to be reflective of an insensitivity to any violence of recent days. I don't want to even pretend I know what it means to be personally affected by extreme violence like that the Sandy Hook incident. I share these thoughts as only my own attempt at formulating a framework for a dialogue around gun control.
1. I believe that the 2nd amendment does guarantee the right for me to own firearms.
2. I have lots of friends and family who own and safely use guns. I also have lots of friends and family who do not own any, and some who believe that no one should. My disagreement with any of them will not permanently rupture our relationship. Relationship trumps political position every time.
3. I think that context matters. It's difficult to overestimate the difference between urban, suburban and rural realities when it come to guns.
4. I think that there is a place for gun regulation. Yikes! I winced a little myself as I wrote that. But it's true. Before anyone (metaphorically of course) shoots my thought down, here's what I mean: nearly every one of us believes that weapons should have some regulation. And in case you want to argue otherwise, I'm going to ask this question: should we regulate who gets access to a nuclear weapon? Of course we should. I can't imagine a gun show or pawn shop offering a nuke to someone willing to pay for it. That example, albeit almost absurdly extreme (I say "almost" because there's probably someone out there who believes they could be a responsible owner of a nuclear missile), makes the point that some level of gun regulation can and should be discussed in our free, constitutional society.
5. Knee-jerk reactions on either side don't help the discussion. Neither do anecdotal stories that spin for one side or the other.
6. Brokenness is a reality we must discuss in all of this. I'm a fan of Jon Stewart, but he was dead wrong on this issue when he mocked Mike Huckabee's use of the word "sin" in describing the problem with violence in our society. Yes, we believers have too often allowed our words about sin to focus on sexuality, but the truth is that sin really is the brokenness of people who are not what they were created to be. We must have solutions that deal with this brokenness, and we must understand that apart from the radical grace of God the brokenness will continue to overwhelm even the best of us in one way or another.
7. Finally, let me say that I myself am conflicted about what I believe to be on the one hand a constitutionally granted right and on the other what best reflects the nature and character of Jesus of Nazareth. Others (including my friends Keith Giles and Terry Austin) have posted better blogs than mine about this, but it's fair to say that I both find enjoyment in the collection and discussion of firearms, and wonder what Jesus would or wouldn't enjoy about them. And I certainly hope that my heart is broken over sinful violence, just like I know his is.
I guess what I do know is this: It's time for us to find the places where we can come together on this, and not focus entirely on our disagreements.