The biggest problems may have simple answers, but the answers are rarely simplistic. The Navy Yard shooting two weeks ago is a case in point.
Scarcely had the fear and frantic scurrying of employees subsided in the Washington naval office building than the fresh calls for renewing debate on gun laws began with fervor from the highest leadership posts in the land. Their answer to the spate of recent mass shootings is simple; restrict the number of guns and the people who can obtain them. That is a simplistic answer.
Consider that the Russians have approximately nine guns per one hundred people compared to the nearly 100 guns per 100 people in the United States. Russia had more killings in 2009 with fewer guns than did the United States; 21,603 compared to 13,636. This is even more startling when the strength of their gun laws is considered. A permit is good for only five years and then the process to obtain a license must be repeated. That process includes a strict background check, including criminal history, a full psychological evaluation and a medical exam. After this they must pass a test on firearm laws and safety. If the applicant gets past these first two stages the police will register the gun during a home visit that includes taking bullet patterns, test bullets and cartridges so bullets can be matched if the gun is used in a crime.
Guns in homes are no more the problem than is alcohol in anybody’s cabinet. The problem is behavior. Within fifteen years from the formation of Mothers Against Drunk Driving the rates and deaths associated with drunk driving plummeted by nearly half. Why? The drop occurred because MADD caused such behavior to become socially stigmatized and criminally punitive. If that mindset were applied to guns it would be something like what columnist Dana Kelley described: “If you abuse a gun one time, you are likely to do it again, and the degree of your abuse will escalate according to the situation.” Consequently, penalties should be enacted with the intent to stop the progression propelled by favorable public opinion just as it was against those who drink and drive.
Neither stricter gun laws nor a change in attitude toward bad behavior is sufficient. Both are simplistic answers. The root of the problem is deeper. It is lodged in the heart. The Old Testament Psalmist said, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil”. Sadly, that is exactly what is happening. Any solution is only a partial solution unless it addresses the problem of the heart. It is essential to find a way to encourage citizens to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” as the Apostle Paul pointed out. Authentic encouragement must begin by allowing God to speak through the Bible to every heart instead of everyone reading their desires into the words God recorded in Scripture through human writers. “Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth”.
Following Jesus is the answer to any problem. It’s simple, but not easy.