By David Burroughs
“It is too soon to talk about the politics of gun control. That would be insensitive to those killed.”
I keep hearing this argument. I want to be very sensitive to the people of Newtown, Conn., who this week bury 20 children and six adults. But I suspect that one of the questions they are wrestling with is, “How could this happen in America?”
With the pain of horrific loss fully center stage, I must ask in reply: If now is not the time to talk about gun control, when is? We can’t wait any longer. These mass shootings are no longer coming years apart, or even months apart. They are coming weeks apart. And they shouldn’t be coming at all.
I have felt for a while that there is a “silent majority” of good, Bible-believing people in the United States who care about issues like gun control. I have been waiting for them to finally get fed up with the mass shootings after Columbine, or any of the other ones after that. After Newtown, I am beyond fed up. We can’t wait any longer. It is time for us to act, together.
Moderate Baptist people, let’s get moving on a response to these mass shootings. I know we will disagree along the way, but let’s stay focused and work through it.
We work through things together all the time: around the dinner table, at the conference table and around the church business meeting table. This national issue is just on a bigger table.
To start the conversation, I personally disagree with the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. I think it was obviously intended to allow for the collective organizing of a militia.
I also understand that many people back then had guns, for hunting or family protection. I also know that after they shot once, they had to go through about seven steps to shoot again.
I understand there are now poor people who need to hunt to feed their family. I also know that some people feel safer with a simple handgun at home.
But I assert strongly that it is time to get assault rifles off our streets and out of anyone’s hands, with the exception of law enforcement officers. It is time to remove semi-automatic handguns with easily accessible high-capacity clips that can fire 30 bullets as fast as one can pull a trigger.
Any change in our nation’s gun laws won’t be easy. The gun lobby isn’t going away — nor is their money and influence. Even if legislation is passed, these guns will still exist on the black market, and in people’s homes.
The Bushmaster .223 assault rifle used in Friday’s mass murder is one of the most popular models out there. But if we stop the flow of these kinds of guns to the market, we can drastically reduce their availability to future gun buyers. Think of cars with only a lap belt, and how far we have come in the last 30 years in traffic safety.
Another core issue in these situations is the lack of access to mental health care in the U.S. That is another important conversation we need to have, and it has a place alongside the gun-control conversation.
But I am going to keep the focus of this article on gun control, and here is why: Apparently, also on Friday, a deranged man went on a rampage at a school in China and stabbed 22 children and one adult before being subdued. While this, too, is horrible, none of the injured there died from the attack.
I’ve broken my silence publicly. Will those of you who support gun control join me by speaking out in wise and thoughtful ways? In light of Newtown and other horrific scenes of mass murder, our continued silence and business-as-usual response would be the most insensitive thing of all. At the very least, we must work to make sure our churches have a lockdown plan and that the adults practice implementing the plan.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19). Let’s do all we can to make sure our children will be safe at church, at school, at the movies, at the mall and in their homes. It is time to act.
Editor’s note: Passport’s d365 Advent devotions have been rewritten this week, in response to the Newtown tragedy. ABPnews columnist Amy Butler is the writer this week.