Common Sense and Guns
Although I am not a hunter, I have several friends who are. I even have a couple of friends who collect guns. It’s a real passion for them. But I’ve never met anyone who thinks it is a good idea to have military-style, combat assault weapons available for sale to the general public. Not even my gun-loving friends. They are quick to say, “It’s insane. An AR-15 [the style weapon used to kill students and teachers at school in Parkland, Florida] is designed for one purpose only–to kill as many human beings as possible in the shortest period of time. These assault weapons should be banned, and gun-safety laws are a no-brainer.”
So, when President Trump encouraged frightened teenagers to seek help from faith leaders in their communities, I was pleased. The young people in my church know that above all, we cherish the sanctity of human life. During the season of Lent, we are reciting the 10 Commandments each Sunday, and “You shall not commit murder” rings out as an unequivocal, non-optional command. Our youth know that they come to church to be ever more deeply motivated to live lives of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. So if our frightened teens take the president’s advice and reach out to me, I really have only one thing to add to what they already know by virtue of their faith.
That is: trust your common sense. God gave us this thing we call “common sense” to use in times when people are trusting in other things, like money and political power. But as attractive as money and power are, you know some things are much more important.
You know that it makes no sense at all, for example, for military-style weapons designed for use in combat in places like Afghanistan or Syria, to be available to ordinary civilians in America, where they are being used to kill students, teachers, church folks, moviegoers, and concert patrons. Tell your elected representatives (there's a list at the bottom of this post) that such weapons should be banned. If combat weapons must be used at all, they should be used exclusively by trained, authorized military personnel.
And in the midst of a lot of political rhetoric and arguments about the Second Amendment, again, trust your common sense. The Second Amendment was written in 1791, when the right to bear arms meant the right to have a musket with a flintlock, a rifle that had to be reloaded and tamped between each shot. Everybody knows that modern, military-style assault weapons have no business being in the hands of civilians. Hunters don’t need combat weapons—only people who hunt in schools, churches, movie theaters and concerts. Trust your common sense.
And if someone wants to argue with you that enacting gun safety laws and banning combat assault weapons is the beginning of a slippery slope, again, trust your common sense. If Congress has done nothing to stop the sale of these weapons and has failed to enact simple gun safety measures, after repeated massacres in schools, movie theaters, churches, and concerts, it’s ridiculous to think that simply banning assault weapons and enacting basic gun safety regulations is going to lead to anything more than that. There’s no slippery slope here; it’s more like a staircase, and all we’re talking about here is taking a sensible, single step. Trust your common sense.
I understand that students are organizing a march on Washington, called March for Our Lives, on Saturday, March 24. They realize that one massacre after another in the United States have not been enough to overcome the power of the gun lobby and the lure of wealth and power. But maybe politicians will pay attention to young people. “A little child shall lead them” is a biblical prophecy whose time has perhaps come again. So plan to join in. Better yet, ask if you can organize a bus to the march. I’ll be there, too. I suspect some of my gun-loving friends might be there to support you, also. Because this is not about guns. It’s about common sense given by God.
Ralph S. Northam // contact info
Justin Fairfax // contact info
Virginia Attorney General
Mark Herring // contact info
Find your local members of the Virginia Legislature here.