Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando—these places and others now trigger in our memories images of helplessness, terror, and pain. I’m so sick of this. I hate waking up in the morning to news of more people—God’s image bearers—murdered. The sad reality is that more mass shootings will inevitably follow in the months to come. I hate to say it, but this problem isn’t going away any time soon. According to Vox, an American is more likely to die staring down the barrel of a gun than from AIDS, drugs, or wars.
What can be done to counteract this rise in senseless violence? At the top of the list is certainly the fight against radical Islam, but not all mass shootings can be attributed to ISIS/ISIL. Since the United States has more guns per capita than any other country, many social commentators have called for stricter gun control as the best solution.
Those advocating stricter gun control policies think that if we can reduce the number of weapons in this country, surely the death rate will go down. The fact of the matter is, however, that reducing the number of legal arms in this country won’t solve the even deeper issue that dwells in the depths of the human heart. It may slow those bent on hateful violence down, but they won’t be stopped this side of heaven. On the other hand, Jeffrey Goldberg over at The Atlantic argues for more legally-armed and responsible citizens to patrol public places.
I’m all for seeking tangible solutions to the problem of gun violence, but the problem is not with guns, or bombs, or knives, or anything else that we use to harm or kill our fellow image bearers. The problem is within us—the problem is us. This was, of course, what Jesus taught about the nature of sin—and it applies to the issue of gun control too.
“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him…Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:15; 18–23)
Even if politicians pass stricter gun control laws, or if more responsible citizens have concealed-carry permits, the sad reality is that the odds remain high of another mass shooting occurring on American soil. I wish that were not the case; however, there have been over fifteen mass shootings in the last eight years alone. The best we can hope for is that there may be some real resistance to such tragic attacks by prepared citizens, but they will likely continue to happen nonetheless because the human heart rages with rebellion against God and his creation.
Whatever your stance on gun control, don’t forget that the deepest problem can’t be solved by legislation—it can only be resolved by the death of Jesus on the cross, which is bringing about a new, better, perfect world for us to enjoy forever. In Christ, God has turned our hopeless weeping into hopeful joy. We look forward to a kingdom, as Russell Moore so aptly said in Time, “where blood is not shed and where bullets never fly.” There at Golgotha, death died—and violence will soon be no more.