Some will likely claim that I am outside of my area of expertise in this blog today, but that has never stopped me before.  Albert Einstein made a bold but largely ignored prediction. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”  Einstein understood modern man’s obsession with increasingly violent weapons would eventually destroy… well, modern man.  The shocking events last month in Newtown CT where 27, mostly little children, were brutally murdered by a disturbed youth has put the gun debate back on the front burner.  CNN’s Piers Morgan has made the fight personal after he called Larry Pratt, the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, “an unbelievably stupid man”.  Livid, gun advocates have been circulating a petition to have Morgan deported for his un-American views. Over 100,000 Americans have signed the petition, more than enough for Congress to have to hear the matter.  Morgan has responded by saying he will save them the trouble… “If you don’t change your gun laws to at least try to stop this relentless tidal wave of murderous carnage, then you don’t have to worry about deporting me… (I will) seriously consider deporting myself. Hmmm… it sounds like we win either way.

I do think Morgan is doing us a favour in provoking the debate.  The pro-gun lobby likes to hide behind the mantra “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  I could not agree more.  That is why America needs to rethink its gun laws and quit putting guns in the hands of people who kill people.  It is impossible to create laws that restrict the existence of stupid people.  Therefore the only alternative is to create laws that restrict stupid people from getting guns. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not one of these radical anti-gun folks.  I own three guns; a bolt action .22 and a couple of shotguns.  They were registered until recently when the Tories scrapped the long gun registry.  For the record, I do not use them to kill people, but rather other lesser pests.  The biggest problem with the Canadian gun registry, other the billion dollar price tag, was the fact that the criminals forgot to register their weapons.  I guess that’s why they call them criminals.

I do think the debate on gun restrictions is a discussion we need to be having.  To just say this is a mental health issue and unrelated to the proliferation of guns is disingenuous.  A pastor friend of mine in Indiana shared with me of a terrible tragedy in his church.  He says that on any given Sunday there might be a dozen or more people ‘packing heat’ in his pews.  (Maybe not the safest environment for a preacher like me who likes to stir it up a bit)  One weekend one of his members was putting on his three year old daughter’s shoes when his ‘legally obtained and constitutionally protected’ handgun fell out of his pocket and discharged when it hit the floor.  The bullet struck his daughter point blank and killed her instantly.  It was one of the toughest funerals he ever had to perform.  And I would add… the most unnecessary one.  What happens when you arm a society to the teeth?  I think we know.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, École Polytechnique, Newtown… the violence needs to stop.   Can we really just shrug our shoulders and plead innocence?  Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, the USA is saddled with the unhelpful Second Constitutional Amendment which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.  It may have made sense when it was enacted in 1791 but today the gun lobby believes that it somehow gives them the right to own a ground to air heat seeking missile if they so desire.

Secondly, North America has become drunk on a culture that celebrates gratuitous violence on TV, in movies, video games and almost everywhere you look.  Research has shown that people are actually instinctively resistant to killing another human. The evidence shows that the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have been unwilling to do so, and would often shoot over the enemies head.  Sometimes they would actually opt for being killed rather than killing. Today however, we have witnessed so many 1,000’s of virtual killings that we scarcely flinch when we view real wars live via satellite on television.  We have all seen images to which only soldiers in combat were once exposed.  If virtual violence does not desensitize us, then why would the Military use it as a training tool to desensitize solders to killing?

The third factor is the lack of restrictions on some very deadly weapons.  Canada is a lot less violent than the US, at least part by the fact that very few or any of us are ever ‘packing heat’. There are a couple of very important differences between Canada and the US when it comes to gun laws.  Any American with a permit can carry a handgun.  In Canada a handgun can only be legally transported to and from the firing range.  The rest of time it is required to be unloaded, the trigger disabled and locked away in a proper gun case.  Another significant difference is the availability of assault rifles.  (A partial ban was in place in the US for many of these weapons from 1994-2004, but has since expired)  The National Rifle Association (NRA) will point out how many of these so called ‘assault weapons’ are exactly the same as hunting rifles, they just look more menacing.  In some cases that is true but in many it is not.  Although Adam Lanza had two handguns in his possession, he used an AR 15 to kill most of his victims in Newtown.  This weapon is the scary looking semi-automatic version of the M 16 that the US military uses.  They are identical in appearance except that with the AR 15 one must pull the trigger for every shot.  The M 16 can do machine gun bursts by merely holding down the trigger.  It is estimated that 3.5 million AR 15’s are in American hands.  A half million were sold in 2009 alone.

In Canada the AR 15 would be a restricted weapon and subject to strict rules of ownership similar to that of a handgun.  Consequently few of them exist in Canada.  Long guns still serve a purpose. I am not going to tell a hunter or rancher that he is not entitled to own a weapon.  These are law abiding folks using them in a responsible manner.  Nor am I confident that the Second Amendment will ever be (or should ever be) revoked, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.  One place where the US could take a page out of our books is to restrict the magazine size of guns, not the guns themselves.  Most high powered rifles in Canada only have 5  shot magazines.  The AR 15 holds 30.  There is only one hunted species that would ever require a 30 shot magazine… human beings.  If Adam Lanza was only able to get get off 5 shots, he would have been wrestled to the ground as he attempted to reload.  I realize that innocent children would still have been lost, but far, far fewer.

Here is the most tragic part of the story.  After the Newtown shooting… sales of the A 15 skyrocketed as Americans flocked to the gun stores looking for something with which to protect themselves.  Maybe Piers Morgan was right, we really are unbelievably stupid!  Lord help us.

This entry was posted in Pastor Mark's Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Comment RSS

27 Responses to GUNS DON’T KILL!

  1. Bruno says:

    Hm, I thought that post would start an avalanche of posts. I guess I bought my popcorn for nothing.

    There is one thing I would throw out there and it’s about desensitization. Although it seems logical that the more we see something, the more we will find it to be okay, there does not seem to be much link to all of it, mainly with the fact that most European and Asian countries see the same amount of violence we do. Sometimes people think that Asian countries are all about bowing to each other and being polite, but they too love the Hollywood machine.

    You must know people who watch violent movies yet would faint at the sight of blood, or how low the violence is in modern Asian countries with them having as much (yet different) violent material at their disposal.

    A year or so ago, I read the original Peter Pan book and wow is that thing violent! Most of the very old children books are. Then the term “going postal” in the early 1900s with postmen being shooters got some traction (although Newman explained why postmen went insane in the first place.) Of course violent material seems like it should make us more violent… but there’s less violence in the world now than hundreds of years ago.

    Even though Syria and Lybia showed us that our world is violent, we are in one the most peaceful time of our existence. Gone are countries invading each other every other in crusade-like fashion and conquerors like Genghis Khan do not rise anymore.

    I would not know exactly where to point the finger though; to me the easy access to guns has always been the main issue, but I’d give an ear at the concept that with archaic healthcare, the US has trouble finding and helping mental patients… but even that is grasping at straws.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      Yes, it is strangely quiet.

      Asian cultures do love the violent files. However, it is almost impossible to get a weapon in most of those countries. In Japan, even the police don’t have guns. Europeans are like Canadians and own few guns as well.

      It is really only a few crazies anyway that are doing the killing. And my main point was dangerous weapons are far to available to them in the US.

      Our church was the target of a planned mass killing that was thwarted by the police a couple of years ago. The potential gunman was only able to obtain a couple of hunting rifles. He said in court that his goal was to kill 1000 people. Thank God it didn’t happen at all, but he would have been very limited in his ‘success’ by the weapons he had. Here is the link.

  2. Steve says:

    You know Pastor Mark, when I read my Bible it says Jesus hung out with exceedingly wicked sinners.
    I bet Jesus would have loved those kids that were planning to do that evil thing in your church. I bet Jesus would have went after them and poured out love on them just like David Wilkerson did for Nicky Cruz and his gang back in the day.
    I believe God was giving you a chance to do something really awesome there and show the unconditional love of Christ to those kids.

    • Steve says:

      I know that Jesus loves Church of the Rock and He loves those messed up kids. I know Pastor Mark that you love Christ and trust Him as well.
      Isn’t it awesome that Christ has unconditional love for all of us. God bless you Pastor Mark and Church of the Rock.

  3. Evelyn Bennett says:

    Coming from a mental health perceptive, thank you for not putting violence on that pedestal.

    Considering that most shootings in the past decade are related on poorly medicated human beings.

    Where should the blame lie? On the doctors who prescribed the incorrect medicine.

    When those in their circle are still living in denial that their child is sick.

    We all have a conscience when it comes doing right and wrong. No matter if you are on medicine or not. That is what is amazing about God’s creation.

    We were born knowing both good and evil.

    I am glad I chose the common sense to choose good.

  4. I have to agree in most ways. First no civilian in North America needs an AR-15 or any other rifle with a 30 round magazine, that’s what professional killers carry. Second…I am sorry for the man who lost his daughter. Never carry a handgun in your pocket, waistband or even a holster with “one in the spout”. Third no matter what “gun” you carry you need to affirm in your heart, soul and mind that as a person who serves at the pleasure of the most high God that when your life is at risk that you are going to do what God wants.

  5. Phil says:

    Well written blog Pastor Mark. I agree with this all around. I would also like to question that the guy who lost his daughter entirely by accident. As Christians, what events would need to take place to lead to the conclusion that we need protection? If God has a plan for our life and we are in his care, then carrying a gun around with you is almost redundant. If your time is up than it doesn’t matter if you have a gun or not. You might be able to hurt or even kill your shooter, but is that the appropriate Christian response? Just some food for thought.

  6. Steve says:

    Hey Pastor Mark. You know,I just had a real revelation from God.
    I’ve probably annoyed you with some of the things I’ve typed on here but I think you might like what I am feeling from God for you and Church of the Rock.
    I sense how much God is desiring to unleash an outpouring of His love onto you and your church. A downpour of mercy and grace.
    Lord bless Pastor Mark and Church of the Rock.

  7. lss says:

    Piers Morgan. Man that guy gets my goat! Talk about smug pride. I don’t care where he lives just get him off the tube.
    No answers on this just lots of tears for the children and families. Have to say one of the hardest parts for me loving Christ is the pain felt when something like this happens. I guess that’s better than the alternative.
    For the record though have hunted most my life. Lost my dad as a young adult and some of my fondest memories are spending time with him hunting. (we eat what we shoot by the way) Look forward to passing that gift to my four boys.

  8. Jason says:

    Pastor Mark, Sorry to hear about the accident at your friends church. It’s definitly an emotional situation but let’s entertain some facts.

    According the CDC: Causes of unintentional death Age 0-19 Years in the United States in 2009:

    4,564 – Motor Vehicle Accident

    1,314 – Drowning

    864 – Suffocation

    743 – Other Transportation

    682 – Fire Burn

    442 – Poisoning

    180 – Fall

    Wayyyy down the list, so far that I had to cite a different study by the CDC to even find the number….

    62 – Accidental Discharge of a firearm (1 to 14 years)

    To put this into further perspective, there are an average of 53 people that die each year due to wasp/bee stings.

    Here are some more facts, there are 254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles in the USA and an estimated 270,000,000 privately held firearms.

  9. Keith says:

    I wonder if Hitler could have killed 6 million Jews, if they all had owned AR15s

  10. valerie says:

    Pastor Mark – you are able to put into words all those things that people have been feeling! No one needs that many bullets in a magazine, if you own a gun you should know how to aim and fire it so you don’t need 15 bullets to kill what you are aiming at. My husband and daughter both enjoy the target shooting and so we have handguns and rifles. we also have trigger locks on everything! and gun cabinets lining the walls. No school should need armed guards to protect the kids and teachers – that just amplifys the problem. Keep preaching God’s truth Pastor Mark. Many blessings on you and your minstry.

  11. Keith says:

    Interesting… I’ve got a theory as to why mental health has escalated exponentially over the last 20 years. Sometimes as a people when we become outraged with a horrific event, we emotionally respond with simple solutions from a black and white mind set. Cars have killed more people in the USa over the last ten years then guns. Easy solution! Eliminate cars. Some of the environmentalists would love this solution but for different reasons. The increase in poor mental health is no accident. Violent movies and video games are watched more and more frequently by younger aged children every year. Many of these children have minimal relationship with a healthy caring adult in their life. Another factor is that children are less and less exposed to hope in a higher power that exceeds to laws of logic, and physics, etc. These children are growing up watching commercials that show them that happy people have beautiful cars, homes, and spend time on tropical beaches every year. Materialism sends a message that u cannot possibly feel adequate or happy without this stuff. This also adds to a sense of hopelessness, and even creates a rivalry of the havenots vs. the have’s, and huge resentment. These children grow into people that learn to blame others for the lacking in material goods, or unhappiness, or the lack of a ‘goodlife’. Bitterness takes root…depression becomes more frequent, and thrives… self-hatred for not looking right, or feeling accepted grows…this transcends to hating others for not seeming to care, or for making them feel inadequate by sending a messsage that we as people need to work harder, and stop being so lazy…the reality is that most of this stuff is so unattainable, and unrealistic , and unneeded for a quality life, that most of out culture is deceived into believing that they are such screwups/losers…. when some one starts to operate in this baseline of existance, it only takes a comment one day to reach the tipping point…and then point their anger at everyone else around them that seems happier then them.
    If they knew the truth about how God sees them and all of us in this culture…if they were part of a loving, accepting community where they felt significance, and they stopped living life vicariously through the internet and the cable network, they might see a huge increase their hope outlook! Mental health would improve… fastfood restaurants would decline or change their menus…. the list goes on. Guns would be used for hunting animals for food. However, even with these changes, gun laws and restrictions need to be tighter. Ok…so I have summarized this in the simplest way…don’t really want to write an essay on here…but it is good food for thought…iron sharpens iron. 😉

  12. Single mom says:

    Restricting access to weapons is a great idea. However, it goes farther than that.

    We’re living in a time right now where violence in music, video games, TV and movies is sensationalized.

    “Everything is permissible…but not everything is beneficial.”

    “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

    Call me an extremist single parent, but I believe we need to be teaching our kids– from the time they’re young, how to swim upstream in a world that wants to take them downstream. “Do not be conformed…be transformed.” And, as parents, we need to be doing the same thing–being that example in their lives.

    I’ve never allowed my son to play violent video games, and the rule was that if he brought them into the house, they were confiscated. (Even if they belonged to a friend.) If there was a certain nonviolent video game he played that seemed harmless at first, but caused him to act out more (and I discerned there was a dark spiritual component to it), out it went.

    As far as music went, I had access to the iTunes account, and if he wanted to download a song that all of his friends had, we checked out the lyrics first. The songs could not sensationalize shooting, be sexual, disrespectful, or condone drinking or drugs.

    He didn’t have cable or unrestricted access to the internet.

    The summer before he went into grade 7, I taught him the pressures and temptations he would be facing at school. Taught him about porn, how it’s like a drug, and how one look gets a guy hooked. Practiced the eye bounce technique with him. Taught him responses and escape plans for when he was in situations where he might be tempted.

    If you’re going to take something away, you need to replace it. We watched lots of movies and he tuned into Ignite 107. I took him to lots of Christian rock concerts and two Christian youth groups. I played board games with him, took him to the park, tossed the ball around with him, took him fishing, camping, on road trips, to special events, cooked with him and spent much time just listening to him whenever something was on his mind.

    Now he’s a teenager. His iPod is full of Christian music and a few secular songs that made the cut. When friends want him to play violent video games, he stands firm and refuses to do so, and comes home and tells me how he was pressured, and how he pushed back against it.

    He goes to a secular school, and he has male classmates who have tried to get him to look at porn. He bounces his eyes and firmly tells them “no,” then walks away.

    In every classroom, the teachers play secular music while the students are doing their work–the kind of stuff that’s full of sex, violence, and disrespect. (We took God out of the schools, and replaced Him with that stuff.) He brings his iPod to class, pops in his ear buds, and plays his Christian music or tunes in to Ignite 107 to drown the other music out.

    Because he sticks to his guns (no pun intended) on his values at school, he gets mocked and shunned by most of the students there. He doesn’t care. He said he’d rather do the godly thing than do what’s popular, because the fruit he sees in the students who are doing all of the permissible things is not the good kind.

    If we really want to reduce violence, we could always ban all media that are encouraging violence. The problem is,
    that would take away our freedom of speech, then you’d have people up in arms about that. I hate to say it, but…I’m thinking this is a sign of the times…

  13. Alfred says:

    If you do a little investigating you will find that Adam Lanza did have an AR15 but it was in the trunk of his car and was never used in the shooting. Not that that changes anything I`m just saying.

  14. Bill says:

    Amazing that you have these concerns about gun violence and control and then your church sends out a mailer with 3 gunslingers advertising that mercy is coming this Easter. And how will these gunmen provide that Mercy.
    Don’t get “Radical” Mark.

  15. Mark Hughes says:

    Well, you’ll just have to come and find out. The Easter story is all about mercy overcoming the violence of Good Friday.

  16. Terry says:

    I fully understand the need for gun control, however the existing laws do not assist in the prevention of violent crimes by criminals.

    Criminals do not register firearms, they do not legally aquire firearms, nor do they comply with any firearm legislation.

    I have been a gun owner since I was 16 and am now in my late 40’s, i use my firearms for hunting and recreation shooting, I comply with all federal and provincial gun laws.

    I feel sorry for the families that lost their children to gun violence, but we need to implement laws that actually target the misuse of guns, the current laws restrict and prohibit the use of firearms to law abiding gun owners and do not affect the criminal elements.

    Firearms have been around for over 400 years and are a part of human history, simply baning them will not stop gun violence but will simply remove them from law abiding citizens.

    Thanks to pastor Mark to have the courage to speak out on this subject

  17. michael says:

    Ok why does anyone need an AR-15. All it takes is 5 mins on Google and an assault weapons advocate would learn that a semi automatic rifle or an assault rifle is the most effective tool for self defence. For a good number of people assault rifles look scary and intimidating and they can’t understand why anyone would want one or need a military still assault rifle that can kill so efficiently. Let me say this if I’m not on the range and I have a gun out chances are I’m in a gun fight. Why would I want to protect myself with something that is less effective then what the person that is trying to kill me with is using? Now living in Canada I can’t carry an assault weapon on my person everywhere I go but if I could trust me I would. I don’t want a hand gun or a hunting rifle when the bad guy have an AK I want an AK. There’s no one in this Country that can tell me that by more gun control that they can guarantee that no criminal will be able to get their hands on an assault rifle and because of that I want to be armed and to be honest even if you can guarantee that there is no possible way a criminal will be able to arm themselves I still want to be armed because it would be me and other law abiding citizens that have the advantage against the criminals. Call me crazy but just because evil is not in your frame of reference doesn’t mean that evil doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t need anything to defend myself if we lived in the garden of eden but we don’t we live in a world where people kill innocent people and as a human I have the right to defend myself against any attempts of the taking of mine my family or any one that I care about lives. That’s why I would need a semi automatic military style assault rifle because it does a better job of protecting me then a hand gun dose or a hunting rifle does.

  18. Searching says:

    I am new to the area and was seriously considering checking out your church until I found this ignorant anti-gun rant from the pastor. You should stick to preaching Christ rather than delving into an debate where you are only thinking with your emotions and not your head. As a gun owner/advocate I guess I know where I an NOT welcome…

  19. michael says:

    Ill keep my guns and my Bible

    • michael says:

      My KJV Bible that has no missing verses and no twisted Scripture but for some reason the church of the rock doesn’t want anything to do with the KJV Bible.

      • michael says:

        Luke 22:36 then said he unto them but now he that hath no purse let him take it and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one.

Leave a Reply