Would you carry one?
There was a pretty awful story in the news this weekend. The basic gist is that a mother was kidnapped by her son’s father (who she apparently had a restraining order on) while she was picking him up from the daycare centre. The man drove off with her and the police obviously started a search. At the same, her family decided to start their own search and eventually found a house from which they heard loud screams, which they knew belonged to the woman. When they entered the house, they found the man there with the woman, who he began to stab in front of them. It all ended when the woman’s uncle pulled out a gun and shot the man several times – he was pronounced dead by police soon after, and the woman was rescued.
The comments at the bottom of the news articles were somewhat surprising to me. Most of them were jubilant, congratulating the uncle on a job well done and (rightfully), offering best wishes to the woman and her family. They were typically American, you know- “Thank God for AK47’s, so blessed by Jesus to live in a country where we have the right to bear arms”, and “I hope the sucker rots in hell. Good on the uncle for blasting him” etc. I say surprising, because although it’s great to know that the woman escaped with her life, the fact that a life was lost under such violent circumstances, even the life of a violent stalker, is surely cause for grief? I cannot rejoice over the death of someone who had no chance to right his wrongs or have another attempt at becoming a better man. His son will now have the trauma of discovering when he is older that his father attempted to kill his mother, and that his uncle eventually killed his father in order to save his mother. I can’t even begin to imagine the psychological turmoil.
Which lead me to think, well, what was the other possible outcome? The likelihood of the woman having been saved if her family member wasn’t armed is small. A man with a knife is probably no match for a man with absolutely no weapons at all. Obviously, the American practically in fits of ecstasy over this story – it’s great evidence that the right to bear arms is a right worth fighting for.
I began to think, would I feel safer if I had a gun? I decided I probably would. Momentarily. At first glance, it does seem safer. Properly trained, it would be nice to know that if I ever got caught in the middle of gang warfare in Hackney I could potentially shoot a couple of bullets as I rolled across the pavement to safety (Just in case you missed it, that was sarcasm – Hackney ain’t that bad).. Or that if I am ever accosted by a rapist walking home from the library late one night I could threaten them with my 9mm. I have visions of myself as a black female Sherlock Holmes – Zara trench coat, quizzical look, hiding behind lampposts and the like, pulling out my shiny pistol at unexpected moments. But after about 53 seconds of deep thought, I realised that no, I do not want the right to carry a gun.
Firstly, as a Christian the idea of taking someone’s life is extremely scary to me. I think God has the right to take life or the right to instruct (i.e Old Testament) to take someone’s life, and I’m not sure me and Jesus are tight enough that I ‘d be confident that I ever had a definitive instruction from him to take someone’s life, no matter how evil they were. I think a lot of people confuse God with the slightly over excited voices in their own head, especially when it comes to taking lives. Case in point, George Bush, 7/7 bombers etc. As a Christian do I believe in self defence? Of course, but I honestly don’t trust the majority of humanity enough to draw a reasonable line between self defence and aggression, so surely we should minimise the possible damage?
Secondly, I don’t think having the general public bear arms actually makes us safer. For example, in America stories such as the one I’ve mentioned seem to suggest good reasons to bear arms, but in contrast we have Sandy Hook, the Washington Sniper, and Columbine. Not to mention the numerous deaths of young people every day to gun violence in major cities across the U.S. If guns are illegal, yes it means that the baddies have guns and good people don’t, but if guns are legal then more baddies who wouldn’t have got guns, get guns. And the bad folk usually get bigger guns. The average law abiding sane person isn’t going to carry a rifle around with them. The unfortunate person struggling with mental health issues, or the bad person who is soberly evil, might. The UK has never had it’s own version of Columbine or Sandy Hook. Either Americans tend to have more mental heath issues and a culture which lends more to gun violence, (in all seriousness), or our gun laws are working better. I happen to think it’s a mixture of both, but definitely the latter.
Thirdly, I am about as clumsy as an hippopotamus on weed, and I will be that person on the front of the Daily Mail who managed to shoot themselves in the nostril by accident. I’m not about that life. and you shouldn’t be about that life either.
Fourthly, count on your hand the amount of people you would feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that they’re carrying a gun. Exactly. I can think of at least 5 people.
What do you guys think?