Six month old Joniyah Watkins was shot and killed while sitting on her father’s lap in Chicago on 11 March in a drive by shooting. A gun is used in most murders in America. Guns are easily available in the American culture of gun rights where there are an estimated 227 million guns.
Nevertheless, American leaders defend the right to bear arms. At a recent NRA conference Rick Santorum claimed that God supports American gun rights. However, Jesus says “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus rejects the very reason that many people have guns.
In rural Kentucky a two year old girl was accidentally shot and killed by her five year old brother with his birthday rifle on 30 April. Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it in the full.” Have we become so blind to the value of life today for the fear of a distant, if ever, tyranny? Or will we continue to accept the FBI reported murders of 47, 856 people in the US with guns between 2006 and 2010.
After the murders in Newtown, the Chief of Police testified that the AR-15 rifle used to kill the children has “no commonsense meaning” for a regular citizen seeking protection. Freedom to carry a gun is destroying the freedom to live. It is not surprising then that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops calls for the elimination of guns in America, except for law enforcement and the military.
The Apostle Paul explains “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. In European countries with strict gun control there are far less murders. In the US there were over 9, 000 murders with a gun in 2009 and in the United Kingdom where I attended university, there were 42 murders with a gun in 2011-12. Even if the UK were the size of the US they might have had around 200 murders with guns compared to our 9, 000 murders with guns. In most nations there is no right to bear arms.
Jesus is right. By loving the enemy, laying down the gun we protect life in a community. Gun control moves us closer to the community of love and nonviolence of Christ. It’s time to stand with Jesus and against the most common means of murder, guns.