Christianity,  Politics

Should we be talking about gun control right now?

I heard Bill Bennett say yesterday that we need to “let the tears dry” before we launch in earnest into political debate about gun control. I agree. The proverb says, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11). Discerning the right time to say the right words requires wisdom. Before the victims are even buried seems a little quick to me. Doug Wilson illustrates this brilliantly:

Suppose you lived in a neighborhood where a horrific murder took place, and the grieving family members were clustered on the front lawn. Suppose the neighbor on one side of the victim’s family was a salesman for security systems, and he believes that had they only purchased it last month like he asked, all this could have been prevented. And suppose the neighbor on the other side of them had a bad experience with that very same security system, and started to argue with the salesman neighbor about it. Does it really matter who is right?

Let me illustrate it another way. I believe I can say without controversy that I have dedicated a significant part of my life to getting Christian children out of the government school system. Those are my convictions, and I haven’t altered them. I am a declared and open foe of the whole system, as I think many may have gathered by this time. And yet, I want to say that Victoria Soto, the first grade public school teacher who gave her life for her students, was everything a teacher ought to be. There is no greater love than that (John 15:13). There is no finer teacher than that; she was no hireling (John 10:13). And I don’t care if she was a member of the Connecticut Education Association. If she was, then a member of the CEA crowned her teaching career with greater glory than I have done. If my politics on the thing blunt my ability to see that, I am more ideological than principled.



  • Paul Abella

    If we don’t talk about these things when folks are emotional, they’ll never get talked about at all. Which is what the right wants. Keep guns legal, keep up the school shootings. Pro life? Hardly. Make sure they’re born no matter what, and then they don’t matter unless they can contribute to the RNC.

    • Patrick Duncan

      Yeah, Paul – right wingers don’t care about kids unless they grow up to contribute to the RNC and want more school shootings. Thanks for advancing the conversation and contributing with some thoughtful comments.

      • Paul Abella

        They’re only not thoughtful because you don’t agree with them. Let’s face the facts here: don’t change the status quo, and the status quo won’t change. Right now, the status quo is that we have policies which encourage this kind of insanity. Nearly anyone without a criminal record in any state can get a gun. In the vast majority of those states, you can carry those guns around, loaded, just about anywhere. There’s little to no safeguards to keep those guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and no interest in helping them (that’s another story, but again with the status quo – if we resist health care reform, we also resist many meaningful ways that the mentally ill can get help). Put those two together and you get Columbine, you get Sandy Hook, you get Aurora, CO, Virginia Tech, NIU and plenty of other scenarios where people die because some folks (the vast majority on the right) want to live out some sort of John Wayne fantasy. Enough. Admittedly, I find myself being pushed further and further away from Christianity, and when as bright a light in the Christian world as Doug Wilson spouts this plainly partisan garbage in the name of wisdom of a man of God, it does me no favors. And it makes me mad. Really, Really, Really mad.

        • Alex Humphrey

          The Columbine shooters broke over 20 firearm laws in amassing their cache of weapons. If we honestly think stricter gun laws are the answer, we’re fooling ourselves.

          It’s people we need to be dealing with. Ultimately, this most recent school shooting wouldn’t have happened if we could deal with the mentally ill in better fashion than “Put them in prison if the commit a crime”.

          • Paul Abella

            Agreed. Kind of. Stricter gun laws in a vacuum will do no one any good. This was a mental health issue as much as anything. But certainly there’s no need for anyone to have military grade weapons.

  • Don Johnson

    Wilson crafts his arguments. By mentioning abortion while saying now is not the time to discuss it, he is playing a game; he want to eat his cake and have it also. He is asking people not to think of an elephant while mentioning an elephant. He did similar is his last post also.

  • Bill

    The day after 9/11, was it too early to talk about terrorism and homeland security? I am a conservative and an unashamed gun owner, but this is all just smoke. Let’s let the emotion die down so that absolutely nothing changes? No one outside the military or law enforcement needs an assault rifle. No one.

    • Denny Burk

      I hear you, Bill. I think it just requires wisdom. Is it okay for policy makers and congress to begin discussing these things with one another? Sure. Are folks going to be discussing these things around the water cooler? Sure they will. All I’m saying is that the public conversation ought to focus at least a little bit of time on the grieving. At the very least, waiting until the funerals are over seems appropriate to me.

      After 9/11, there was a national consensus in favor of opposing terrorism–even in favor of using force to do so. That is not the case in the wake of these shootings. There is a deep divide in our country over gun control. When the national debate gets joined, it’s going to be rancorous and divisive. There’s no avoiding that. I’m just saying that it’s decent and good for our national debate not to go right to the rancor right off the bat. Let the tears dry first.

    • Paul Cook

      I thought the same thing. Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker put it better than I can:

      “The logic is unusual but striking: the aftermath of a terrorist attack is the wrong time to talk about security, the aftermath of a death from lung cancer is the wrong time to talk about smoking and the tobacco industry, and the aftermath of a car crash is the wrong time to talk about seat belts.”

      It isn’t dishonoring to the dead to talk about how we could have prevented Sandy Hook from occurring, and it seems only right that we start talking right now about how to stop it from ever happening again.

  • Jason Kates

    It certainly requires wisdom and prudence, but I don’t find fault with most of the conversations. The fact is, most of them are not on the front lawn of the victim’s families. My words spoken or typed on the subject will probably never be seen or heard by anyone directly connected to the event.

    And, frankly, I expect Americans to forget about this by the new year because of the distractions of football, Christmas, football, reality TV, football and food. Our instant-“news” culture will seize on another story soon, and our limited attention span will shift focus. We might as well talk about it while it’s the topic of the hour.

  • Akash Charles

    I found it interesting when China said US should have tighter gun laws like it does

    23 children are killed with a Knife.

    may be it is Evil that causes such horrific acts and not liberal/tight gun laws-if anything people should be discussing why violence like this is increasing, as it is pretty clear that having a gun or no gun ( as in China ) makes no difference.(and it is not due to the end of the year fears
    as the article indicates!!)
    the problem with discussing these issues during emotional times is that irrational solutions tend to come from both sides .

    since it is about evil- it comes down to a rejection of God

  • matthewstevens

    OK, when I read this, I reconsidered engaging the policy conversations going on, I thought, “That makes sense…take the high road, be considerate wait for the emotional bleeding to stop before cranking up the debate”. Then I saw you posted about Joe Scarborough talking about gun control- before this post, then Michael Gerson talking about it, after this post; on the same day you posted “Let’s wait to talk about gun control”.

    By talking about, ‘Joe and Michael talking about’ gun control, aren’t you in essence…talking about gun control and launching the debate?

        • Denny Burk

          Because I don’t mean to imply that an absolute silence is warranted. I’m just saying that steering clear of rancorous debate can wait for a little while. And believe me, when this debate is joined, it will be rancorous.

          In my view, what I posted wasn’t rancorous. Nor was I intending to take sides on the issue. I only meant to highlight that two significant conservatives are speaking publicly in favor of gun control. Both of those seemed like significant developments worth noting.

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