The unimaginable scene still screams for answers: 20 children and six adults lying murdered in an elementary school. We can barely comprehend that reality, yet we’re already proposing solutions.
The National Rifle Association (nra) demands one solution: Place an armed guard at every American school. It will cost $6.7 billion, but it will keep our children safe in this increasingly violent world.
Meanwhile, a strong liberal movement demands this solution: Outlaw semi-automatic firearms. Yet the very same day that Adam Lanza unleashed demonic carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary with a semi-automatic rifle and two pistols, Min Yingjun rampaged across a school ground in Chengping, China, stabbing 22 schoolchildren and one adult—with a knife. Some children had ears and fingers chopped off before someone restrained that monster.
Many are shouting for more guns. Many are shouting for less. And a lot of us are looking at all of this and realizing that the problem is so, so much deeper. There is a real, practical solution to gun violence—to all violence—but we continue to ignore it while we bicker over this weapons ban debate.
President Obama attended a prayer vigil on December 16 in Newtown, Connecticut. He said he would do whatever it takes to prevent this kind of senseless killing from ever happening again. “I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation,” he said. President Obama continued (emphasis added throughout):
But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. [C]an we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children—all of them—safe from harm? … Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.
So far so good. The slaughter of 6- and 7-year-olds speaks for itself. Something definitely needs to change. The question is, What?
In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. … Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless … that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
The president dressed up the language, but his specific solution is basically to join the weapons-ban faction. Meeting our obligations, doing enough to keep our children safe, giving American children the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose means … restricting gun ownership. On Sunday, President Obama confirmed that he would make gun control a top priority in his new term. He pledged to put his “full weight” behind passing new restrictions in 2013.
But haven’t we been through this before? Every few years, a tragic shooting takes place. Politicians feign indignation—they enact new laws—but little really changes. Thousands continue to die each year. Last year, around 32,000 Americans died in front of the barrel of a gun. Tens of thousands more were injured.
Those supporting gun control say tougher gun laws would save tens of thousands of lives each year. In Western countries where it is next to impossible to buy guns, shooting deaths are rare. America’s rate of shooting deaths is 10 times greater than Germany’s, 40 times greater than the United Kingdom’s, and an astounding 145 times higher than Japan’s.
If America had Japan’s level of gun violence, only 220 people would have died last year. Instead, 32,000 lost their lives. If America had Germany’s gun death rate, there would have been 28,000 fewer funerals this year alone.
Yet as compelling as those numbers are, those who oppose tougher gun laws have their own set of compelling statistics.
Gun rights activists are quick to point out that the same countries where guns are less prevalent, other forms of violence are often more common. December’s school attack in Henan province is only the latest of several knife attacks against children at Chinese schools. The UK’s knife crime rate is around twice that of America’s per capita. And since knife violence in general is under-reported, these stats may actually conceal the true extent of the problem.
Some statistics even appear to show that more guns equals less violence. Since many states relaxed their gun laws in the early ’90s, violent crime has plummeted—down a whopping 70 percent. Letting criminals know that law-abiding people can defend themselves has reduced deaths, claims the nra.
So who is right? Does America need less guns or more guns?
Actually, neither group is right because that question completely ignores the real cause. If America really wants to keep our children—all of them—safe from harm, we need a totally different debate. If we are honest with ourselves, deep down, we should all realize that the cause of violence goes far deeper than whether or not people should be able to own guns, or how many bullets they can put in a gun clip.
The real issue we need to address isn’t gun control, it is character control.
On December 24, 62-year-old New York resident William Spengler purposely set fire to his house. When firefighters responded, he shot at them. He killed two of them, and injured two others, along with an off-duty police officer. After a two-hour gun battle with police and after seven homes burned to the ground, Spengler reportedly killed himself. The suicide note said he wanted to “do what I like doing best, killing people.”
Toughening gun laws isn’t going to stop a monster like that from killing people. Posting armed guards at every stop light and supermarket won’t make a difference either. Spengler was a convicted felon. Felons cannot legally own or purchase a firearm, yet Spengler was able to obtain a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.
Even if Spengler couldn’t get his hands on a gun, he would have found another way. The reason he served 18 years in prison was for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer.
Criminals will always find ways around laws. Banning guns will not stop violence.
Just days after the Sandy Hook shooting, a bomb threat forced hundreds of mourners packed into St. Rose of Lima Church to evacuate the building. How do you stop phony bomb threats—or worse, real bombs? Do you outlaw all fertilizer and gasoline sales? Where does it stop? Do you ban knives? How about baseball bat laws? In some states, it is already illegal to have a bat in your vehicle unless you also have a baseball glove and ball—without those, the bat is considered a weapon. How about stricter hockey stick laws, or Kung Fu fighting laws, or limits on how strong a person can be?
America’s foundational, root problem isn’t guns, or its laws. America’s problem is people.
If President Obama really wants to prevent another Sandy Hook massacre, he needs to tell people the truth. It is an unpopular message, but the truth is that we need to fix our depraved culture—and there is only one way to do that.
President Obama should have told America that we need turn to God in deep repentance—and that repentance requires actual change!
Instead, what America got is another political task force on gun violence and another political gunfight.
If we really want to keep our children—all of them—safe from harm, America needs to start fixing its families. Instead of a ban on guns, how about a ban on broken homes? If we are truly interested in doing everything we can to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose, then instead of putting armed guards in every school, let’s put a strong father in every home.
America needs to end its collective fetish with constantly making new laws and regulations—and instead actually start keeping the higher laws that mankind was given from the beginning. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that this is the only way guaranteed to prevent more school shootings. And it is the only way to bring real, lasting, hope-filled change to America. ▪