I was scrolling through Facebook today when I came across a video about the Parkland shooting. That in itself is rather unremarkable (besides the fact that we seem to be talking about this particular massacre a bit longer than we have tended to in recent years and months). What caught my attention was the angle it took in regards to gun violence.
The video was titled "High School Student: 'America Needs Jesus, Not Gun Control'", posted by a page called "IJR Red Presents". In this video, a high school student named C.J. Pearson begins by saying that the "the media and the left have resorted to saying the only way we can stop atrocities like what happened this past week in Parkland is through gun control." He goes on to say that as a high school student, the news of the shooting is frightening to him, and he does not wish to be less safe or to say that no action should be taken. Subsequently, he asserts that "gun control is not the answer", and that what America really needs is Jesus.
After asserting that the real issue is a lack of Jesus, he claims that the clear pattern in school shootings is that they take place in gun-free zones because "the good guys" don't have guns to stop "people with evil in their hearts and in their soul". He concludes with the relatively inoffensive sentiment that "kids should not be afraid to go to school. Let's make sure that they're not".
While I appreciate this young man's passion for this topic, I have numerous concerns about his stance. As I've written before, I'm not generally in favor of blanket calls for gun control. I think we need to be careful to pursue policies that have been shown to be effective, which chiefly means addressing the root causes that drive people to commit violence (although there are some limited gun control measures included in this). As a Christian, I of course believe that violence will not ultimately end until Christ's return, and that the only true curing of the sickened condition of our hearts is that effected by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In other words: yes, I agree. America needs Jesus.
But this strikes me as an odd dichotomy. America needs Jesus, yes; but the chief way that he reigns currently is through his church, who acts out God's will on earth. Imagine telling a cancer patient, "You don't need chemo or radiation, you need Jesus!" Yes, certainly, that patient needs Jesus; but they also need the means God has provided through human discovery to treat them. "America needs Jesus" does not imply that America does not need any other sort of solution to gun violence.
Where he takes the argument next is where I think he starts to get really off base. He proposes arming teachers- or someone in the school- for the purpose of deterring potential shooters. Besides the obvious point that, as at many American high schools, there was an armed resource officer who clearly didn't scare off the shooter (and also didn't do anything to stop him once the shooting began), the data show this to be a misguided idea because a) it requires extreme care and training to actually be able to use a firearm effectively in a crisis, b) even trained cops have had an overall negative impact on our schools as a whole, and c) my teachers being armed would probably be the most effective way to make me feel unsafe (I imagine I am not alone in this sentiment).
What really perplexes me, though, is Pearson's assertion that it's simply a matter of people with evil in their hearts having guns versus people whose hearts are in the right place having them. My mind immediately goes to Romans 1-7, where the Apostle Paul expounds the universality of human sin and rebellion. Reading this section, it is impossible to escape the conclusion not only that all people sin, but also that all people are utterly and horrendously sinful and depraved apart from God's grace.
You could figure this out as well from reading Genesis, Exodus, Judges, any of the Prophets (but especially Jeremiah 17:9)... really, the whole Bible. In the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, "I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor" (Q & A 5); we are "so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil" (Q & A 8). Truthfully, I think an honest look at the world around us and the state of our own hearts could show us this.
In light of this, I have to say that it seems to me rather naïve to think that we can just save ourselves by arming the good people. There are no good people. There are certainly some people who are more or less fit to carry a firearm. But we should never fool ourselves into thinking that being surrounded by guns makes us safe or helps us to live as God's holy people.
As a very wise man once said, "all who take the sword will perish by the sword".