As a lifelong gun owner from Northern Wisconsin, my guns hold a lot of personal value to me. I see them as part of my family tradition of hunting and marksmanship. I’m proud of the legacy of responsible gun ownership that has been passed down to me.
For the past five years, I have lived in downtown Chicago, working alongside others who are combating the epidemic of gun violence in this city—men and women with stray bullet holes in their homes and car doors who regularly lose children in their ministry care to violence. I have stood in candlelight vigils with mothers who have lost children and listened to their pain.
Something has to be done.
Despite gun-related violence and deaths being down overall, in a city with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, gun violence is up 25 percent, with over 450 school-aged children having been shot (63 fatally) last year.
Unfortunately, this is not some distant wickedness or rare catastrophe. Senseless gun violence is a present reality in my city and others.
Earlier this year, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, President Obama unveiled a comprehensive gun-safety plan aimed at reducing gun violence. As of this writing, these measures have been defeated in the Senate. The rhetoric over gun reform, in the meantime, is as heated as ever.
On one hand, it doesn’t appear that more legislation reduces gun violence. On the other hand, children are being violently shot to death. On one hand, restricting liberties while existing laws go unenforced or root causes go ignored seems misdirected. On the other, children are being violently shot to death.
I am also a professor of persuasion and debate who has thin-sliced the arguments over gun ownership, violence and control time and again with my students. I understand the debate. I do not want to debate. I want to stop the murder of innocents from ever happening in the first place. Regardless of your view on guns, I know you do, too. So where do we begin?
Clearly, God in His holiness abhors killing. As Christians, then, we are called to engage the issue with an extreme bias toward the preservation of all life and the reduction of violence by any means. This fact remains whether we are in favor of gun law reform or not.
Do we love our "rights" more than we love our neighbor?