A consistently pro-life ethic should include gun control

Print More
Mourners gather for a vigil after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting | Image by NorthEndWaterfront via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1RshNJw)

Mourners gather for a vigil after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting | Image by NorthEndWaterfront via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1RshNJw)

Mourners gather for a vigil after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting | Image by NorthEndWaterfront via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1RshNJw)

Mourners gather for a vigil after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting | Image by NorthEndWaterfront via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1RshNJw)

There have been two very different sets of responses to last week’s mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter killed nine people before taking his own life during a shootout with police, in what was the 142nd school shooting since Sandy Hook in December 2012, when six teachers and twenty children were killed.

Gun rights advocates and gun control supporters alike have used the opportunity to politicize the tragedy, which isn’t, in itself, a bad thing. If politics is the business of governing a diverse body of people, and guns are both used and governed, then our response to repeated mass shootings ought to be, at least in part, a political one.

READ: Let us all pray to the almighty gun

To “politicize” something that is inherently political isn’t a dirty thing. In fact, to keep ignoring mass shootings, to refuse to change gun control policy because of the power of the NRA lobby, to let twenty children die and take no national action to restrict gun access in this country–indeed, to vote against an assault-weapons ban–that is the dirty thing.

Why, then, do so many people insist that the right to gun ownership ought to take precedence over the lives of innocent people? They may never say as much, but that is what’s at play when folks like conservative pundit Erick Erickson–who claims to be pro-life–posts a tweet like this one day after the shooting in Oregon:

Erickson wasn’t alone. Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor, Republican Ron Ramsey, wrote in a Facebook post that he “would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit.” Journalist Rory Caroll posted a picture to Twitter of Candi Kinney, co-owner of the Roseburg Gun Shop in Oregon, with a big grin on her face. “Always a rush after a big shooting,” she told him. Donald Trump suggested that if the college where the shooting took place hadn’t been a gun-free zone, an armed student or teacher might have taken the shooter down much earlier.

Nevermind that the statistics don’t bear this out; that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides with guns but 8,342 criminal homicides using guns. That same year, 20,666 killed themselves with guns, and there were 548 fatal unintentional shootings. Guns in the hands of civilians do us as a society much more harm than good, and if it were up to the NRA, I imagine they would want the “well-regulated” clause taken out of the second amendment altogether.

The second set of reactions have had a different tenor. Pastor Will Irwin, of Family Church outside of Roseburg, told The Washington Post that he preached a sermon on forgiveness after the shooting: “’Some are angry at the shooter, some are angry at politicians, some are angry at officials,’ Irwin said. ‘This gave people a chance to process. They were looking for that.’” The Reverend Rob Schenck has long been a pro-life activist, but after the 2013 shooting in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard, he expanded the scope of his activism to include gun control. “’When we say, “Nobody will ever take my life, I’ll take theirs,” it contradicts the Christian life and message,’” he said.

If Christians are called to follow the example of the one who laid down his life for the sake of others, we need to start doing so immediately. There were twenty children at Sandy Hook who we could have laid down our lives for, and we did not. There are nine more people dead now. If we don’t, nothing will change. This will play out again and again, and we will mourn for a day or two–if that–before we revert into bitterly divided arguments about rights. My rights don’t matter as much as another person’s life.

  • Diogenes

    None of the examples or statistics cited above fits neatly into some kind of package. Certainly events like that at UCC, should never be occasion in any context for the production of broad grins from gun shop owners, on the other hand any intervention by a legally carrying citizen in order to stop a crime should be applauded; such interventions do happen. Ms. Turner merely lists statistics without context. As Mark Twain observed, ‘There are 3 kinds of lies; Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.’ It is sloppy journalism to draw broad conclusions from a series of potential non-sequiturs. We minimize such tragedies when we reduce them to a mere methodology of death. Deaths by automobile still far outstrip those by gun, yet how many of automobile deaths are a function of drunkenness, recklessness, attempts to elude, etc.; all these are characterized by one feature: selfishness. We need to address the problem of sin and evil hearts, not technology that facilitates it.

  • Larry

    Automobiles have a measure of utility besides killing things and causing destruction. Hence much greater ownership per capita. Its a nonsense argument.

    The public recognizes the inherent dangers in automobiles despite their overall utility. Therefore all motorists are expected to subsidize ways to spread the potential risk caused by dangerous, improper and sometimes fatal use.

    Gun owners ignore the potential risk the public they create and expect everyone to pay for their dangerous and sometimes fatal use. Something as simple as requiring liability insurance for guns would do much to reduce straw purchasing and negligent storing of firearms.

    Of course also it would help if the people so bent on easy access to firearms also supported measures in bolstering access to mental health medicine. The conservative dismantling of the mental health system and easy access to guns is not a winning formula here.

  • Jack

    Thanks for erasing my post…..

    The gist of it was that Laura’s whole premise is wrong — more guns don’t let to more violence because other factors dwarf the issue of guns as drivers of violence.

    That’s the only rational conclusion — given the fact that we have far less violence today than in the 1970s and 1980s, even as we have multiple times the number of guns now as we did then.

    Back in the 1980s, gun controllers fretted about how the proliferation of guns was leading to more violence. Not one of them would have predicted less violence today given the subsequent surge in available guns.

    There is no way to talk one’s way out of this. It’s time for adult answers to the violence we still have in society…..and succumbing to feel-good, emotional answers is no answer.

  • Proviso56

    Funny that a simple comment “a consistently pro-life ethic should include gun control” can call forward such negative comments. Pro-life means that life is important. This should include everyone’s life, small children who are suffering and dying of abuse, starving families especially those in this nation, dying by gun violence, whether accidental or intentional including in war, providing shelter to protect human lives no matter their financial state and so much more.
    In it’s present form “pro-life” means one thing, control the sexual act, and possible consequences, especially as it affects women who are both blessed and cursed with those possible consequences, Forget the consequences to others in the existing families but protect a fetus that may or may not be viable. Not all conception leads to healthy, happy families.
    Let’s focus on healthy, happy and safe families. That is what will make our nation once again great!