Your goal is to figure out if I’m for or against gun control. Perhaps you’ll be surprised.
Think about how you felt when you first heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty 6 and 7-year-old children and six adults were gunned down.
I remember how I felt: sick, angry and so sad.
And I also remember as a teenager, feeling scared in the wake of Columbine. Recently, there was another, very deadly shooting in Orlando in which many people died quickly, and others slowly bled to death.
There’s something gut-wrenching about mass shootings. Most people have an instant, visceral reaction. Mass shootings are terrible—it’s obvious.
Why do we feel differently about shooting deaths than about other kinds of death? Statistically, firearms aren’t the most deadly thing. Here’s a chart showing the 2014 U.S. Top 10 causes of death according to the CDC1, plus gun deaths2 3:
(Exact and agreed-upon numbers are hard to find, but the order of magnitude is consistent. Also, I’m not sure if suicides in the chart below double count gun deaths)
Heart disease and cancer are more deadly than guns by an enormous amount (10x-20x). But I can’t deny that a gun death feels different.
I must acknowledge that the death of someone you love will always feel worse than the death of someone who is distant from you. To those who have lost loved ones to cancer or heart disease, abstract gun death may still feel different, but the actual death they have witnessed probably hurts more.
Is it the News?
Do we care more about gun violence because the media foments these feelings? By definition, news reports on things that are rare (it’s called “news” after all). Maybe the news coverage is part of the reason gun violence is so bitter, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.
Is it the quickness?
Gun violence extinguishes life suddenly, without warning. Cancer and diabetes are relatively slow in comparison. The thought of sending your child off to school one morning and never seeing them again hurts. The abruptness of gun death definitely contributes to the sorrow.
Is it because another person did it?
Yes. Definitely. Gun death is detestable for the same reason that murder by any means is. That a human being would wilfully end another’s life, particularly an innocent person, is perhaps what amplifies the sorrow/anger for gun deaths the most.
Guns aren’t statistically the most deadly things in the U.S. But mass shootings are horrible and I’d rather live in a world without them. So, should we control guns more? How should we control them?
Before answering that, think again about how you felt when you heard about Sandy Hook. On December 14, 2012, Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison—little, innocent children—all died. My own children share some of these names.
Should we control firearms?
I have one more statistic to share with you. The chart above shows the Top 10 causes of death in the U.S. according to the CDC. But the CDC excludes the primary cause of death in the U.S.. Here’s that same chart again, with the actual leading cause of death included.4 Again, the numbers aren’t exact but the order of magnitude is consistent.
The primary cause of death isn’t a disease; like mass shootings, it is done to people, quickly and intentionally.
Remember Sandy Hook? Twenty children. Twenty defenseless, innocents.
Look at the chart—the orange bar.
Sandy Hook happens every day.
Sandy Hook happens over a hundred times every day.
But perhaps there’s more talk of gun control because its victims have spoken to us. We’ve seen them laugh. We’ve watched them learn to walk. They’ve held our hands. We’ve hugged them. They’ve giggled. We can imagine them crying out. They have names like Charlotte and Daniel.
Yes, we can have a discussion about gun control. Let’s talk. But let’s not be blind. There’s another discussion we need to have.
Somehow, people’s hearts need to change.
I have little confidence in solving the problem of rampant abortion with legislation. Honestly, I have little confidence that writing this post will do anything. But if one person decides to let their child live as a result of writing this, then I have succeeded.
Instead of abortion, consider adoption.
If you’re not ready to have a child, don’t conceive.
If you’ve had an abortion, don’t have another. Change. Abortion is wrong, yes. But you can change. Pretending it’s right will do nothing for you.
I’m not a hate monger. And I know life can’t be perfect. Mistakes happen. But don’t compound mistakes with more mistakes.
God will judge perfectly, taking into account individual circumstances. And He has promised that scarlet sins can become as white as snow; “though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Do your best with what you know. Abortion is not your best.
(As always, email me about typos or if I have incorrect facts.)