In the wake of the Parkland school shootings and the debate & protests that have followed, there has been one thing nagging at me. Both sides in this debate want the easy answer.

For gun rights advocates, the easy answer is to leave things as they are. No one affiliated with the NRA is happy about these school shootings. People who engage in hunting or shooting sports (or just keep a gun for protection) value life and wish these things didn’t happen. But they see that bad things are going to happen in an evil world and limiting constitutional rights isn’t worth what would be a failed attempt to stop violence. Besides, we more need more concealed carry training so Americans are prepared and allowed to defend themselves. That’s an easy answer.

For gun control advocates, there must be a way that laws could be put in place to stop the innocent slaughter of kids in school. And so they debate legislators and hold rallies in an attempt to find the set of laws that will prevent this sort of thing from happening again. Again, it’s an easy answer.

Neither of these easy answers will solve the problem because neither addresses the root cause of the violence: sin. When we look at the background of the shooter at Parkland (or Sandy Hook, or Littleton…) we see a young man who had a seriously rough life. In this way he was sinned against. There are children in every classroom who are in similar situations. They are dealing with broken homes, abandonment, abuse, poverty, and general physical, emotional, & spiritual neglect. They are sinned against by the people charged with protecting them and by the world at large. That’s the common denominator in all of the school shootings.

That’s not to excuse the shooters. There is no excuse. But it goes a long way to understanding why arming every American or passing more laws won’t stop the shootings. Those easy answers are attrative because we want the problem to go away quickly and with as little effort on our part as possible. We want a stroke of a pen to make it all go away.

The answer to gun violence is simple. Kids in classrooms need to befriend those who are normally outcasts. They need to be more accepting of the kids who seem weird. Adults (teachers, neighbors, family members) need to invest their time in these kids so they know someone loves them and that they are valued. The same goes for kids in high-crime urban areas. Why woudn’t we expect kids subjected to abandonment, abuse, and neglect to get violent? And ultimately these kids need to know that God loves them and created them for a unique role in this world.

This answer is simple, but hard. It requires us to sacrifice time and comfort to build into other people, some of whom aren’t even in our family. And that’s why I think we’ll still have one side pushing for more guns and the other side pushing for fewer. Those are easy answers. And ones that won’t work. The real answer is very hard.

There’s a simple way for us to significantly reduce the gun violence in the United States. I mean, it’s simple. But we’re not going to do it.

No, it’s not passing new gun laws. I’m not simply expressing my opinion. In a thoughtful piece in the Washington Post, a statistician who is personally anti-gun admits gun laws won’t reduce gun violence. She and her colleagues analyzed gun deaths in the United States and found:

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.

But what about the other one-third of gun deaths? Isn’t there a law that could keep some of those from happening?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

Understand, the writer wants new gun laws to solve the problem. But she examines the numbers with integrity and finds they won’t have a significant impact. Relatively few people die in mass shootings (although even a single death is horrific). Most die from suicide, gang/drug killing, or domestic violence.

Her conclusion is the only way to prevent gun violence is to have people step in to help others in these situations. It requires “being there” for people who may be prone to suicide. We need mentors for young people who are at risk of being involved in gangs and/or drugs. We have to give the police the resources they need to step up protection for women involved in violent domestic situations.

And that’s why I say the solution to the gun violence problem is simple, but it’s one we won’t do. Solving these shootings requires us to get involved on a daily basis. It takes a lot of time and energy. It gets messy. It’s emotionally draining. We live busy lives and often lack the patience to give hours and hours to help people who need us in these situations. And because of that the gun deaths continue.

Certainly I’m not speaking about everyone. There are many who do try to help. But not enough of us (yes, I’m including myself in this) make the time and energy sacrifice necessary to make a real difference. The stats show us laws won’t stop the violence. Only people can do that. Will we finally step up?

 

Unless you were totally engrossed in trying to find a mattress deal over President’s Day weekend, you’ve heard about the comments made by provocative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. You can listen for yourself in the video below. He certainly seems to defend pedophilia. He also refuses to reveal the names of known pedophiles.

 

Outrage was swift and severe. It began on Twitter and CNN’s Jake Tapper may have said it best.

Milo had a book deal canceled. His invitation to speak at CPAC was rescinded. Just as he was beginning to get significant nationwide name recognition (after his planned appearance at UC Berkeley was called off because of protests in which fires were set) his career is now crumbling. Why?

When I ask why, I genuinely mean why is he wrong in what he says? Why isn’t it ok to support pedophilia?

Here’s the reason I ask. For many years philosophers and social scientists have argued morality is something created by humans intentionally or because of evolution. The theory is at some point humans either decided having rules in society is a good thing or evolution led them to it involuntarily. They either consciously decided being kind to one another or having a set of rules agreed to by society would be better for them or something in the evolution of their genes gave them a conscience.

This is an argument made by many atheists as they try to prove God doesn’t exist. They believe since there is no God there can be no sort of objective morality. You may often hear the phrase, “morality is just a social construct.” There is no permanent and absolute right and wrong. It can all change.

If these arguments are taken to their logical conclusion then none of us can concretely say pedophilia is wrong. Neither is torturing children. Neither is a mass shooting. If there is no God who stands outside of and above humanity, who is anyone to say anything is truly immoral?

This is why debates concerning God’s existence are vitally important. If there is no God then morality is something that shifts from culture to culture. Surely different communities accept differing actions. But without God there is nothing that can be absolutely wrong. Including sexual abuse of kids.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I do believe in a God who allows us to clearly understand absolute right and wrong. Abusing kids is wrong, absolutely. It is evil. But if God doesn’t exist then everyone can truly do whatever “is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Without God, Milo could be right. And that would be wrong. Or would it?