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.