Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guns and Safety

Over and over again, I see this message in media and popular lore:

Fewer Guns = More Safety

Today I read a news account of a deranged young man in Japan who killed 7 and injured 10 on a rampage with a knife . It surprised me that one man with a knife could cause such carnage. In a related article, a professor at a University in Japan is quoted: "However, as Professor Kingston points out, Japan should be grateful for its strict gun control laws. 'If Kato had had an automatic assault rifle the mayhem in Akihabara would have been far more devastating.' "

Although it is reasonable to be glad that the killer was armed with only a knife, is it true that "Japan should be grateful for its strict gun laws"? I was reminded of a killing spree that took place at a church in Colorado Springs in December 07. The church was on alert because killings had occurred at a ministry near Denver the night before their Sunday service. Volunteer security guards were requested to be prepared (i.e. to be carrying guns). The killer did indeed show up and he killed two people in the parking lot before he entered the crowded church. He was armed with an assault rifle. One of the volunteer security guards had heard the shots outside. She took cover and watched the shooter enter the crowded church. She then stepped out, challenged him, and shot him dead. Here is a video of her describing what happened: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/10/colorado.shootings/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

I give a lot of credit to Jeanne Assam, the volunteer security guard. Jeanne Assam gives a lot of credit to God for giving her the courage and presence of mind to stop the shooter. How about gun laws in Colorado? Would the church have been safer if the guards were unable to carry guns? I doubt it.

The biggest mass murder by an American, the Oklahoma City bombing, was done with fertilizer and diesel fuel. I quote a New York Times Article :"Mr. Nichols and Mr. McVeigh, who was put to death for his role in the bombing, used blasting caps, fertilizer and fuel to make the bomb that killed 168 people on April 19, 1995." No guns, no knives.

We could implement tight controls on knives, fertilizer, and fuel. Perhaps some of us would enjoy a false sense of security until someone committed murder by driving a car into a crowd or by putting cyanide into Tylenol capsules (yes, both have been done).

I prefer to be ready to defend myself and my loved ones if necessary. I prefer to ask God for the courage and humility to take action if I witness violent aggression. Courage and humility. Patience and wisdom. I also have to be willing to accept that sometimes there will be not a thing that I can do.

Please spare me the lectures about how much safer I would be if all the guns were illegal.

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