Once again, the United States has experienced a terrible school shooting. Small children were slaughtered by 20-year old Adam Lanza, whose mother had taught him to love weapons. We need to pray for the victims’ families and that these awful events will stop once and for all, in the US and elsewhere.
In the American debate, there seem to be two contradictory suggestions how to do this. Either, basically all people carry guns so that they can kill a gun murderer wherever s/he shows up. Or, basically no one carries guns so that people don’t become gun murderers in the first place. Even if the former would decrease school shootings, we know that the latter does as well (my country, Sweden, has a very strong gun control and has during this time never experienced a school shooting or another type of massacre). This of course clearly speaks in favour for gun control, since we get the sought result without spending billions on handing out killer tools to everyone.
But what debunks the violent solution even more is the fact that increased gun prevalence increases gun violence. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The US has most guns per person in the whole world (88 per 100), while having 5% of the world’s population it has 50% of the world’s guns, and they even got the “right to be armed” in their constitution! Yet they are not experiencing peace and security but rather the Wild West with numerous school shootings and massacres. Some are arguing that these would have happened even if guns were not available, but as mentioned gun prevalence increases gun violence, and it surely makes the attacks more deadly. Coincidentally, a Chinese madman attacked children at a school with a knife three days ago, the same day as the American school shooting. Although he stabbed 22 kids, none of them died. In the American case, 20 kids died.
What disturbs me is that some American Christians still support the “guns for all” policy. I have a Charismatic friend who is passionate about sharing testimonies of miraculous healing. After the Connecticut School Shooting, he started to lobby for more guns. How is this consistent with his usual healing message? After all, when Peter cut of the ear of his enemy, Jesus shouted “Stop!” and put the guy’s ear back again, healing him (Luke 22). When Paul the persecutor had become blind, God did not call Ananias to kill him but to heal him, converting him into an apostle (Acts 9).
The Christian response to these horrible massacres should be healing, and also forgiveness. Many of you have probably heard about the Amish response after they had been victims of a school shooting in 2006, but it deserves to be repeated again and again. Being Jesus-loving pacifists,they forgave the transgressor immediately. Donald Kraybill writes:
The most remarkable thing about Amish forgiveness was its speed. I talked with some of the Amish people who, six hours after the shooting, spoke words of grace and forgiveness to the widow of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the gunman who had subsequently killed himself in the schoolhouse. Later that same day, other Amish people went to the home of Charles Roberts’s parents to express forgiveness and support. During the next two days, on television, several Amish people spoke words of forgiveness.
This forgiveness was put into practice in a wonderful way. The Amish families of the girls who were killed and injured gave a portion of the money they recieved from donors, to Roberts’ widow and children. Some sent food and flowers to them. At Christmas, Amish children sang Christmas carols outside their home. And at the funeral of Roberts, half of the ones attending were Amish.
This reminds me of the good old verse “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21). We don’t need more guns, we need more love, healing and forgiveness. Holy Spirit, give us an abundance of that.