“Guns don’t kill people…” and other cliches we have to stop saying about guns

barbs21) “My right to bear arms is in the Constitution.”

   It’s time for us to acknowledge that the Constitution is not infallible. If it were infallible, it wouldn’t have had to be amended so many times.  It was written by men, not saints.  Though we call them the Founding Fathers and “Christians” (because as deists they acknowledged the existence of a divine being), in fact they committed adultery, fathered children out of wedlock and kept slaves.  If you think the Constitution is inspired, you’d have to say the same thing about a document written by Bill Clinton, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and John Edwards.

   I’m not advocating for anarchy.  Of course changes to the Constitution take careful deliberation and thoughtful discussion — but there is a precedent for amending parts of the document.  And maybe we need to start talking about amending the gun part.

2)  “I should have the right to go hunting if I want to.”

   When we frame the debate about gun control around good-hearted men who want to go hunting for the weekend, we create a straw man that doesn’t accurately reflect what’s at stake when we’re talking about guns in our current society.  First, we’re not talking about hunting rifles; we’re talking about semiautomatic pistols and machine guns.  Plus, it’s not grandpas that are storming into shopping malls and schools and killing people; it’s angry teenagers and young adults.  How do we keep
guns out of their hands?


3)  “Everyone can own a gun if they want to.”

   Research shows that the safest societies are those in which everyone owns a gun or no one does.  If you believe in the sanctity of human life, AND you believe in the availability of guns, then the only responsible thing to do is advocate MORE access to guns.  But I don’t see anyone campaigning to put a gun in the hands of every man, woman and child.  Why not?


4)  “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 6.59.36 AM

   Seriously, stop saying that.  Of course it’s a person pulling the trigger.  No one’s saying guns magically end up in shopping malls and start firing off rounds.  But the mechanism people use to kill other people matters.

   It’s like saying we shouldn’t tighten regulations on drunk drivers because “cars don’t kill people; people kill people.”  Okay, yes, someone’s driving that car.  But the alcohol in them becomes a mechanism for them to be dangerous to themselves and others.

   Gun violence is unlike other means of homicide because it creates distance between the predator and the prey, which means the prey doesn’t have a chance to get away.  To kill someone by other violent means, you have to be within arm’s reach, which means that the person can at least try to run away, and you can only kill one person at a time.  (Unless your hands are massive — then maybe you can strangle or stab two people at once.)


5) “Gun possession is a God-given right.”

  This smacks of Manifest Destiny, which had tragic consequences.  When we evoke God’s blessing to justify what we want to do, we are walking on shaky ground.  We used the same logic to give blankets ridden with lethal pathogens to Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in foreign conflicts.

    God didn’t say other people should die so we can do what we want to do, and have what we want to have.  Specifically, he didn’t say that everyone gets the right to own a killing machine.  What he said was that he wants his followers to be the gentle, peaceful, cheek-turning, enemy-loving sort.


6)  “The only two people who ever died for me were Jesus Christ and the American soldier.”

    That’s just not true.  Thousands of innocent people (most of them kids) are dying in schools, WalMarts and shopping malls because of your “freedom.”  Try explaining to a grieving parent why their college kid being gunned down at college last week is less important than your theoretical right to own a gun.




I vote that we stop saying these cliches and start having an honest dialogue about what’s really going on.  When we dismantle the straw men of our flimsy logic and pathetic excuses, we get to the questions that really matter, like


— How do followers of Jesus promote peace in our violent society? (After all, Jesus was radically peaceful. When the soldiers came to get him in Gethsemane, he didn’t tell his followers to stock up on ammo; he told them to put their swords away.)

–What personal rights can I lay down to promote someone else’s right to life?

–If (God-forbid) one of those angry boys goes to my kid’s school, what kind of access to guns do I want him to have?

–Why are young people (specifically white males) so angry, and how do we get to them before they harm themselves and others?


Thanks for sharing!

3 thoughts on ““Guns don’t kill people…” and other cliches we have to stop saying about guns

  1. Thanks Sarah. Too often in this and other issues we have reached a point of litmus tests that then halt any discussion about potential solutions. A good political system is one that can break down the big issue into its smaller parts and seek wisdom comprehensively. I deeply appreciated how you are seeking in this article a discussion that would do just that.

  2. Sarah,
    I really like a lot of what you have to say here. I’ve grown quite weary of arguing the topic of the second amendment with people which is why I admire your willingness to make a point where conversation can start rather than starting with arguments. I’m grateful for that, it’s refreshing. I am curious to hear more thoughts on point 3. The NRA does a pretty good job of advocating for “gun rights” and has suggested putting guns in schools, but hasn’t, as far as I know, suggesting arming everyone-they seem to get hung up on people living with mental illness. What would you like to see from them or other gun-rights advocates, in terms of concessions, in this discussion?

  3. I appreciate your effort and care on the subject. Before guns people still killed, it’s not the object it’s the person. Please don’t take Jesus (Yeshua) out of context. The almighty G-d came into the world knowing he would be a sacrifice. Violence wasn’t needed, but before his crucifixion he did as the Father commanded in cleaning out the temple as father in a home will clean out his house before Passover. When he returns as “The King of Kings” it will not be pretty for the unbelievers as Yeshua ruling in the millennial kingdom with a rod of iron. I would love to continue on the topic of Jesus if you wish, i have thick skin and won’t hurt my feelings.

    G-d bless you and never give up.

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