What I Don’t Understand About The American Gun Control Lobby After Sandy Hook

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a parent in Sandy Hook since Friday. If I had said goodbye to one of my children at the school gate that morning and never seen them again – except in a mortuary – well, I just don’t know. I would be howling. Inconsolable.

And obviously it has reignited the debate about gun control in the States. Some (including in the church) say we shouldn’t be political. I recall after Dunblane here being asked not to preach about the wicked tragedy, but we must raise these issues. So maybe there are things I don’t understand as an outsider to American culture, but here are some of my questions for those who think gun control should not be tightened. I have put in bold what I perceive to be these people’s objections to legal restrictions. I have read several of these in the last three days, and – to let the cat out of the bag – I’m not convinced by the gun lobby.

Criminals will ignore laws They do – but on that basis you wouldn’t legislate anything. Is that what you want?

There are too many millions of guns in circulation for legislation to be effective Well, doesn’t that argument remind you of similar ones used to oppose Wilberforce and the abolitionist lobby?

America is different from other nations I’ve seen that as a comment on a friend’s Facebook page. I’m sorry, that’s just insulting. Is that just another version of American exceptionalism? And if you approach this as a Christian, how exactly is America not characterised by the same beauties and flaws of human character as anywhere else? It’s time to realise that the examples of other major nations when it comes to the public availability of arms show this up for what it is.

Quoting the Second Amendment in a fundamentalist way In other words, just quoting the words without context. Back then, guns were loaded one bullet at a time. Today, clips may have a hundred bullets. Since when is ‘the right to bear arms’ really a right to protect a consumerist lifestyle? How on earth can churches vocally support such a thing?

Laws won’t change the human heart Is anyone saying they will? Nobody is making so grandiose a claim. But laws still have a value, in restraining evil. Read Romans 13 again.

Sandy Hook happened because public prayer is banned in schools You mean your God is so small he can be rendered ineffective by the separation of Church and State? Read God can’t be kept out by Rachel Held Evans. Preach it, sister.

This isn’t about gun control, it’s about mental health We don’t know all we can know about Adam Lanza, but does it really stand up to say, ‘Just keep weapons out of the hands of the crazies and we’ll be OK’? Are mentally stable people always to be trusted with guns?

My dear American friends: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and many other places. How many more young lives must be cut down before effective action is taken?

Meanwhile, can we in the church model a different way? A better way? A kingdom way?


  1. There were some very thought-provoking letters published by Sydney Morning Herald yesterday about this tragedy. None perhaps more pertinent, and heartbreaking, than this one:

    “The intelligence of the American gun lobby was summed up nicely by one of its members, who lamented the tragedy was the fact that no one at the school had a gun with which to defend themselves.”


  2. Well said, Dave — so well said that I’m picking up this post for reprint on United Methodist Insight, um-insight.net. Flag me if you object to the reprint. Thanks for giving us a clear-headed perspective from an observer outside the U.S.


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