Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gun Control, Gun Tragedies & Rhetoric

I know about the very first school shooting in this country in which multiple people were killed. It was 1 August 1966 and it ushered in this insane era of what is now known as campus shootings. I remember the shooting at an elementary school in Southern California where a sniper from across the street murdered teachers and students alike. I remember the mass murder of patrons of McDonald's and the chaos that was the scene of the mass murder of dozens at the Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas on 16 October 1991. Many people, however, believe this current era of tragedy began at Columbine High School on 20 April 1999, even though that rampage occurred more than a generation after the era began. There were other school shootings before Columbine, but that one seemed to really shatter the illusion that our kids are safe at school.

It may be, however, that Columbine was the one that the anti-gun crowd seized on to try to strip away the 2nd Amendment rights of all Americans, despite the fact that if you take the number of those who have used firearms to commit these mass murders and total them up to compare against the total number of people in this country who own firearms, the percentage would be less than one-fifth of one percent (0.2%). Yes, there are far too many murders where just one or two people are killed where the murderer uses a firearm, but just as many murders are committed using knives, poison, blunt force trauma, strangulation, beatings, cars, and other means. I'm not a murderer so I truly can't think of all the devious ways people can think of to kill another person. But the fact remains that 99.8% of Americans who own firearms are law-abiding citizens who simply would not even think of killing someone using a firearm or by any other means.

Then, of course there are those who claim that even if the owner of the weapons wouldn't use them for murder, other people will steal those weapons in order to commit murder. While this is true, someone who is intent on murdering someone else will murder them in whatever means they can, even if they cannot get their hands on a firearm; they'll use a knife, a hatchet or whatever tool/weapon they can find. I'm using many words to convey the same message in the old cliché: guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Someone recently said to me that gun control advocates and 2nd Amendment advocates speak different languages, which is what makes coming to a compromise so very difficult. Those who want to ban all firearms simply do not understand the things said by 2nd Amendment people and vice versa. Personally, because I understand and can see both sides, I understand both side's languages, but that doesn't help me make it easier for one side to see the other side's point of view. And part of that problem is that neither side really wants to see the other side's point of view. Even if something makes sense to them about their opponents argument, they will refuse to allow themselves to understand or admit their understanding because then they would have to concede the other side has a valid argument, as well.

I, personally, take heat from both sides because I believe in points from both sides. While I believe in the 2nd Amendment and refuse to allow anyone to take away my 9 mm Luger, my .38 revolver or my .30-.30 rifle, I agree with the gun control crowd that there is absolutely no legitimate use for an AK-47, AR-15 or any other assault/military style firearm in the hands of the regular citizen. Those weapons are for one purpose and one purpose only: the killing of human beings. They were created for use by armies, not by hunters, etc. Same with these clips/magazines that hold 100 rounds. I do believe banning any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is a bit extreme, but those that hold 50 or more rounds are used by the military for a reason: they're to kill as many of the enemy as possible before having to reload.

So, what is the answer? I wish I could convince both sides that allowing private ownership of handguns, shotguns and rifles is our fundamental right enshrined by the Constitution, but there is no valid purpose for private ownership of military style assault weapons or magazines for any firearm that holds 50 or more rounds of ammunition. It would require compromise on both sides of the issue to achieve that solution, and unfortunately, neither side is willing to compromise. Each side wants their own way and truly believe in their heart of hearts that they are right and the opposition is wrong.

Even using Britain as an example doesn't sway either side: Britain has banned all private ownership of firearms yet they still have murders. The death toll in the United States of America won't really be impacted by the banning of firearms, because just like in Britain those intent on using a firearm as a weapon of murder will still find a way to get their hands on one and use it. The difference will be that no one will be able to defend themselves or their loved ones, so maybe the death toll by firearms would actually increase by taking away the firearms of law-abiding citizens.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Example To Follow For Christian Living

Paul told the first century church to emulate him as he emulated Christ; it was a his way of giving those first Christians an example on this earth of how to live a good Christian life. Two thousand years later, like the first century church, we often look for someone to emulate in our Christian walk and are sometimes discouraged when we see human frailty in our earthly guide. We tend to forget that even though they're a Christian, they're still human and therefore can still make mistakes and stumble, just like we do. Sometimes we ourselves can stumble because we see the humanity of those we have chosen to emulate.

The interesting thing is, God gave us another example that if we emulate, we will pretty much walk down the straight and narrow path without faltering and we'll miss the mark many fewer times than if we don't practice this emulation. I'll use the one I look to for guidance in order to describe the whole.

He loves without condition. Even if mistreated his love is unmarred and everlasting. He is meek to the point if I were to mistreat him in various ways, he would be without complaint and even coming to me and seeking to win back my good graces, almost immediately. He shows no difference toward others, treating the beggar the same way he treats the richest man on earth. He gives without expecting anything in return except love. When I'm sick, he sits by my side comforting me and just being with me. When I'm sad, he reassures me that he's still with me. When I'm happy he couldn't be happier. He always seeks good for me and tries to prevent anything bad from coming my way. I'm not speaking of anyone or anything supernatural, here, although I do believe the angels are always around us helping us and even guiding us at times, but the one I try my best to emulate isn't a spiritual body looming over me like a guardian angel. He is flesh and blood. He's my dog.

I know many people would find it strange, but just stop and think about it for a moment; every single thing I noted as an example above is true for almost all dogs, and is truly what we are taught in the Bible is the way we're supposed to walk through this world. Just another example of how God truly knew what we needed, so He created dog as man's best friend. Dogs are just another example of God's goodness and mercy and they behave the way Christ did and the way we're told to.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Selfish? Stingy? Slighted?

I love the scripture that says it is better to give than to receive, and I love being able to give to others to meet their needs. I love to see the faces of someone who is at the end of their rope then see the hope burst into their eyes again when they receive something they desperately need. I'm even more honored when God uses me to meet the need of someone who has been praying. It's such an amazing thing to be a part of the miracle, even though it's just a minor, bit role in the grand scheme of things.

On the flip side, I'm no different than any other person on the planet; I do like to receive from others, at times, as well. I can't say birthdays are an example of receiving things because I rarely get anything for my birthday. But a few times a year I've been the recipient of a blessing from God via the vessel of someone here on earth. And it's still truly a miraculous thing. Even when it's not a miracle or a blessing from God's bosom, when someone thinks enough of me to present me with something, it's an amazing feeling I get knowing they love me enough and think highly enough of me to spend their money on me.

Now, all that being said, I have a poser to answer; couple people I know exchange gifts each year, but one of them is definitely giving much more than the other. This past Christmas, for example, Eli gave Bill, the following items for Christmas: a Remington Electric Razor and a 42" Vizio LCD TV. Bill gave Eli a used GPS for his car which required updating, which cost Eli $90. Of the two, Bill earns four times the income of Eli. Eli struggles each month, financially, but he works hard and is very frugal, in most instances and manages to pay his bills, etc. Bill, on the other hand, is very free-spending, eating out, going to the movies, buying all kinds of new and exciting gadgets, etc.

I've been asked if it's right for Eli to feel as if he's not really held in very high esteem by Bill, or if it's okay that he feels slighted and short-changed when, at Christmas each year he spends on Bill while Bill feels it's appropriate to give Eli used gifts, almost as an afterthought, like he forgot to buy Eli a gift so he just gives him something to say he gave something. Spiritually, I can't find any scripture that says Eli can't feel the way he feels, and I know that Eli is always a joyful giver when he buys and presents the presents to his brother. And I can empathize when Eli feels the way he does after Christmas when he speaks about the hurt knowing that he's spent so much on Bill and Bill presents him with something insignificant that he took out of his car to give Eli because he had received a brand new GPS unit from his sister.

This one is a quandary for me. And I certainly don't have any words of wisdom to give Eli nor any words of instruction to give to Bill. I can only continue to pray for the both of them.