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December 18, 2012

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The 2005 film “Thank You for Smoking” is about a tobacco PR executive who wins a public debate about smoking by sidestepping the health questions and reframing the debate as an issue of consumer choice and individual rights. I wonder what would happen if the gun debate were reframed in the opposite way. Instead of asking whether people should have the right to own semiautomatic rifles with unlimited capacity ammo clips, my question as a pastor is whether it is morally compatible with Christian values to collect guns. Not to have a gun to defend yourself and even carry around the shopping mall with you if you live in Arizona. Not to have a gun to use for hunting (I love it when guys from my church give me venison). But to collect guns. Lots of them. Not ancient muskets to be displayed in cases, but powerful guns that you take to some out of the way place to show off to your friends. Is that morally compatible with Christian values?

Whenever a mentally ill, socially isolated middle-upper class white guy shoots up a theater or a school, I think back to my own middle school experience. I was a loner. I got bullied a lot. When Pearl Jam’s first album came out, there was a song called “Jeremy” that I would play over and over in my walkman: “At home drawing pictures of mountaintops, flaming yellow sun, arms raised in a V, the dead lay in pools of maroon below… King Jeremy the wicked ruled his world. Jeremy spoke in class today.”I drew some pretty disturbing pictures in middle school. My other favorite song was “Straight Outta Compton” by NWA: “When I’m cornered, I got a sawed off, squeeze the trigger, and bodies grow harder. You too boy if you **** with me, the police are gonna have to come and get me.” Gangsta rap was how I coped with being bullied. I wonder if the reason it took off was because of all the scrawny white suburban kids who bought those albums for the same reason.

My dad didn’t own a gun. If he had owned one, I almost definitely would have been too chicken to do anything with it (if I were somehow able to get a hold of it). Not because I didn’t fantasize about doing very evil things to the kids who picked on me, but because I was very much a rule-follower (at one point in my life), and even though the other kids picked on me, I wanted my teachers and other adults to think I was a good kid. But what if something really intense had happened like a horrible rumor about my sexuality or something and I was terrified of going to school the next day and filled with adolescent rage against the kid who started the rumors? Could my immature 14 year old brain have lost all sense of scale and reality and consequences? But my dad didn’t own a gun.

by

December 18, 2012

Comments (3)

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Morality of collecting guns

The only moral issue related to collecting guns is that the collection must be small enough to manage. For example if a person lived in a small house in a town, a collection of ten thousand guns would be too large for that person to control. On the other hand it is clearly immoral for any law-abiding, able-bodied individual to fail to have at least one functional gun in their posession. It is also clearly immoral for the Methodist Church to advocate for gun control as we do in our official position on gun violence. It appears that Paul Rider is unaware of the immoral advocacy of the Methodist Church

Donald Kosloff more than 1 years ago

Guns and Morality

How many of anything is a collection? At what point does gun ownership become more than self-defense? (and is it "bad" if it does?) Is going to a firing range ...and perhaps taking your kids along ... to become familiar with and proficient with a gun going overboard into a somehow evil hobby? ...or is it the wise and responsible thing for any gun owner to do on a regular basis? In addition to His natural Creation, God has provided through human ingenuity many wondrous things, and pretty much all of those things can be used in both awesomely beautiful AND awesomely terrible ways. Banning ANY item that might be used in an immoral way does not change morality. I believe we need to focus on teaching personal responsibility and respect for God and for others rather than engaging in a futile attempt to ban anything and everything that someone might use to hurt themselves or others. It is the way in which an item is used at any one time that is immoral/evil ...guns, knives, alcohol, cars, money, baseball bats, etc ...and not the item itself.

Paul Rider more than 1 years ago

guns

There's plenty of idols around, you can start w/ self and materialism of all all kinds....drugs, cars, you name it.
I've been around guns of all kinds ever since I was born. When I go into a room full of gun collectors I feel quite safe. It's people that sometimes frighten me, not guns. I was once beat almost to death - no guns involved.
Once I was robbed at gunpoint, gun cocked. The gun itself was not nearly as frightening as the person holding it. As Christians, we both know what the problem is, and guns ain't it.
Well, you say, just take the guns from these hurting and broken people then. But who decides who is incompetent, and a flawed logic might opt for the easy way of taking them from all citizens.
Which leaves us with....armed police, armed soldiers, armed 'privileged' persons, retired cops, Judges, and the rich. Oh, and real criminals, all owning guns.
Faced with that police-state/fascist paradigm, I choose to keep my own guns, thank you.
The poor don't 'collect' guns, but need them nevertheless.

“That rifle on the wall of the labourer's cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

― George Orwell

steve more than 1 years ago

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