Can we have a Rational Conversation about Guns?

Rational Conversation About Guns
How many more shootings, local or national, do we need?

How many more school shootings do we need before have anything like an adult conversation about these playthings of death that we love so much?

I know the constitutional arguments protecting gun ownership. I grew up in a house with many guns. My father was a hunter and I went out hunting with him many times. My favorite games as a child had something to do with guns.

I do not fear guns. But I also do not worship them.

Like any real – or potentially – dangerous tool, we should treat guns respectfully – both for what they do and for what they promise.

Consider, for example, how we treat the “right” to drive a vehicle.

There is no constitutional ‘right’ to drive – but there is a set of criteria and conditions one must meet – precisely because driving is so potentially dangerous.

But driving a vehicle is primarily an act of transportation – and only secondarily a hazard.

A legal driver must be of a certain age, pass a test, renew a license, keep the car in certain condition, drive under specific conditions (not impaired for example) and in certain places (paved and public roads mostly) – but can still have the license taken away.

We could allow 13 year olds to drive, because, to paraphrase the familiar saying, “Cars don’t kill people, people kill people”.

But we all know better.

A parked car is not usually threatening, but a vehicle in the hands of an ill, enraged, or incompetent person is a hazard to us all.

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It is true enough that almost anything can be a weapon. Human ingenuity, stupidity and desperation all seem to have developed an infinite catalog of weaponry and set of strategies for self-directed extinction.

One recent local court case involved a defendant who (repeatedly) used a pencil as a weapon; at least in this case, we should be relieved, a pencil did not kill anyone, (because, as we all know, “pencils don’t kill people…”).

I have not been able to confirm the national death rate by pencil, but pencils are certainly less dangerous than lawnmowers, power drills or stairs, which as any reader of Stephen King knows, are certainly out to get us.

But I’m not sure laws regulating human stupidity (or paranoia) or home appliances will do us much good.

If, in fact, it is not guns, but “people that kill people”, should we, as adults and, one would hope, survivors, make killing easier or more difficult? Do we really want to live in a society where implements of death are ever easier to get and more accessible even as they become more lethal?

I recommend the Darwin Awards website for an exhilarating overview of how “inspired” some people can be when it comes to eradicating others or themselves.

Adult supervision, though crucial, seems to be optional, as it apparently is now. After all, it is not guns that kill people, it’s backpacks, toasters, subways, lawnmowers, power drills, cheese-burgers and legos.

Gun sales across the country are booming, but guns are innocent – if not borderline sacred. It says so, right in the Constitution.

And no matter what my friends in the NRA say, I don’t feel a bit safer.


Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

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Morf Morford

Morf MorfordMorf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.View all posts by Morf Morford →

  • Keith Carr61

    Morf, You and I dont see eye to eye as we both know. I would like to take a moment and address your article and maybe ask a question. What was your objective in this article? I guess I missed the direct point except to say that you maybe feel like more regulation needs to be implemented where firearms are concerned. What I do know is that you are old enough to remember those days when you had all of those guns in the house. You remember there were NEVER school shootings, kids stealing guns to shoot others and mostly shooting involved criminals and police. Guns havent changed, toasters havent changed, pencils havent changed however ‘people’ HAVE changed. The slogan you quote is exactly right. Guns dont kill people but I have a better one for you….DONT MAKE DECISIONS.  I respect your concern and with society under so much pressure, especially now, adults need to be much more responsible when it comes to guns.
    The reason guns sales are at an all time high is because of one person…OBAMA. Did you know that the DHS just ordered 570 million rounds of 40cal ammo?? Thats a use rate of a 7 year war in Iraq. DHS also just ordered bullet proof check stations with the no pass gate like you used to see on Hogans Heros. Our right to own  guns will be challenged even more aggresively if Obama gets re elected. Heaven forbid. Obama has a national military at his fingertips, DHS, and a civilian army created in the Health Care Bill directed by the surgeon general. He has tried to collaborate with the UN and enact gun control laws that would be the same for many countries. One of his appointments tried to ban ‘lead’ in bullets because it is bad for the eco system. Without lead, there would be nothing to use for ammo as all armor piercing ammo is already regulated. I recently saw a post that gave the statistics of the millions of people who had been slaughtered by their own government after they confiscated their guns. Hitler did it. I suggest that any attempt to control the rights of private citizens to own weapons is bad policy. I have no problem with training people to use them in order to keep them. Other than that I will fight it as if my families life depends on it because it just may.

    • Dennislaing

      As long as there’s 1 gun left in the hands of a criminal, I’m clinging on to mine for dear life!

  • TMV

    Two Thumbs down, and shame on Tony for post this.  This is RED LETTER CHRISTIAN..and I fail to see the words or ministry of Christ here, nor any hint of a believer’s response.
    To you Morf. How can I have a RATIONAL conversation with you?  I see absurdity, sarcasm, misrepresentation and demeaning characterization of guns/ gun owners/ gun activities.  Beyond that, frustrated, I see your last statement that “you do not feel a bit safer”.  Is that the issue?  Is that the conversation?

    If you have a issue, you have to name it and define it and give us a place / starting point to discuss…to agree, maybe give perspective, offer alternate views.  I have yet to find a person “against guns” that I can have a rational conversation with!

    I appreciate your sense of humour, Morf, but really.  Come, can we reason together?

    • CL

      I’ve yet to to find many people EITHER “against guns” or “for guns” (whatever those phrases mean, anyway) with whom I can have a rational conversation.

      ALL sides like to resort to emotional scare tactics instead of having an adult conversation. It sounds like you, too, want to have a reasonable conversation, so why do you fault Morf for saying as much?

  • CL

    Thank you for this.

    We all really need to drop the emotion, rhetoric, and fear mongering and have an adult conversation.

    • Keith Carr61

      I love the word fear mongering..lol   It reminds me of the commerical the dems put out of the man pushing the old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff. You think that Morf’s article was an adult conversation? Im not casting stones at him but I didnt really get a point from it other than I believe Morf doesnt give much credence to the “guns dont kill people” arguement. Whether you want to admit it, or you are just uneducated, the point is that gun ownership is under assault and will continue to be so especially if Obama is elected again. No emmotion here. Just a plain case of reality and I dont plan on repeating history by allowing the Govt to be the only ones who have weapons.

  • Anonymous

    Let us know when the rational conversation is about to begin…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/43CXBQ2MIVB2JGHBGVNPGHBI5E Scott

    Reading between the rhetoric I think Morf may be on to something – responsibility.  Any laws regarding gun ownership need not take away guns, but to do the best government can to help ensure responsible ownership and use.  I know that some will not obey regulatory laws (a few years ago, my wife was in a minor car accident because of an unlicensed, uninsured, inebriated driver driving an unregistered car) but in our state hunting license require hunter education courses that include gun safety.  Maybe a gun safety course could help with accidents and maybe a minimum ownership and unsupervised usage law might prevent a few school shootings – not all, but a some.  Can we agree that would be better.

    BTW, I am a hunter and multiple gun owner, with a minor son who hunts with me.  Guns are kept in a safe to which he does not have the combination.

  • mike

    Just take guns away from criminals.

  • Matt

    My suggestion is to edit posts before posting or at least develop a central thesis or theme. This post was all over the place. I didn’t really get your point unless it was perhaps that you don’t like guns, but even that I’m not sure about. You talked about guns a lot though. 

    So if your argument was for more strict gun control laws then you already answered your own question in your post. The right to bear arms is a protected right under the constitution. Case closed. Frankly, the fact that licenses are required and weapons can’t be carried openly in some states is a bit unconstitutional if you think about it. (I don’t need a license to practice free speech, why is a gun different?)

    But besides that, this post is just one more example of Red Letter Christians spouting leftist politics into the blogosphere all in the name of Christianity. I think pointing out this trend will be my new favorite hobby.

  • Someguy

    In order to have a rational discussion about guns we should, feelings aside, look at the facts The desire to lower firearm violence by passing more and stricter laws is understandable. However, taking the emotional reasoning out of it one should ask “would it really work?” To that end, I believe that it is helpful to look at places where it is being tried. Within our borders, two of the cities with the strictest gun laws, New York where it is extremely difficult to legally purchase a gun, and Washington D.C. where it is impossible to do so both rank in the highest percentage of gun violence. Guns coming across the borders is brought up as one possible reason. Why then would Jamaica which has extremely strict gun laws also has a very high percentage of gun violence? As it is also an island, it is hard to make the argument that legal guns from a neighboring state are flooding their system. Israel, by contrast, responds to threats of violence by encouraging their citizens to own guns and learn to use them responsibly. They enjoy a very low rate of gun violence. The bottom line is that violence of any type is a multi-facted problem that cannot be simply legislated away. If stricter laws were the answer, shouldn’t it follow that the U.S., with our strict drug laws for example, be free of the problem of illegal drugs?
    On another note, you continue to prove that RLC is less about encouraging and spreading the Gospel of Christ and more about a political agenda.

    • CL

      You point out that Israel encourages its citizens to own guns–AND learn to use them responsibly.

      Whatever else we can or can’t agree on, I think this is a great place to start. Gun owners should know how mechanically to use their guns in a controlled manner, but also when. They should be trained in deescalation techniques and fully understand the responsibilities of owning and using a deadly weapon.

      • Keith Carr61

        No we dont need deescalation training…..the threat of using deadly force is the deescalation technique. Just as punishment deters crime….DEATH is an even better deterrent. ;)

        • CL

          I think you missed the point of my comment.

          You’re right that the threat of death can be a deterrent, but confrontations sometimes do occur in spite of this. If this happens, I should know how to do what’s reasonably possible to deescalate the situation without killing someone.

          I think any rational person would agree with this. So why not require gun owners to learn some deescalation techniques and to understanding the moral, legal, and ethical implications of owning and using their weapon?

  • Dsmaxwell64

    Maybe we need a rational conversation about crime.

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