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Gun Violence and Jesus

I was born and raised in south Texas. I grew up around firearms, which were primarily used for hunting.

As soon as I graduated from high school, I joined the Army. Some people tend to think that military service members walk around carrying firearms and have them 24/7. That is usually not the case unless you are in a deployed combat zone.

Firearms are typically stored in a heavily secured armory. When a military member needs a firearm such as a rifle or pistol, they are issued one through an extremely strict process of accountability, safety, and security.

One of the first things a new recruit in the military learns how to do is responsibly and safely care for and discharge firearms.

I remember when I first entered the Army at age 18 and went to basic training (otherwise known as boot camp). During our training, our unit spent a number of days overnight in the woods simulating we were deployed in a combat zone.

Before moving out to our deployed combat zone, we were each issued a rifle. We were responsible for that firearm and expected to keep it secure at all times. The drill sergeants would often test us by trying to snag our rifles when we weren't paying attention and if we left them unattended.

One night remains vivid in my mind. It was January and there was snow on the ground. It was time to get some rest, so I crawled into my little pup tent and into my warm sleeping bag to get some shut eye. I was exhausted. Since we were simulating being deployed in a heavy combat zone, we slept in our full uniform, and I of course I had my rifle with me.

The drill sergeants had a reputation of trying to steal our rifles while we were asleep. If they were successful in doing so, we were in big, big trouble.

Knowing this, I decided to put my rifle inside the sleeping bag with me. I wrapped the sling of the rifle around my arm. This way I figured there is no way the drill sergeant could secretly take my rifle from me without waking me up. The rifle was attached to me.

I didn't feel comfortable with the muzzle being in the sleeping bag with me. That should be for obvious reasons to you. So, I had the rifle next to my body with the muzzle sticking out of the sleeping bag slightly, just past the side of my head.

Well, later that night, when I was sound asleep, I was suddenly awakened to find myself lying outside the entrance of my pup tent in the snow with a drill sergeant holding the muzzle of my rifle looking down at me!

He had grabbed the muzzle of my rifle, pulling it out of my sleeping bag. When he tugged, I was dragged with the rifle that was still strapped around my arm.

The drill sergeant just shook his head and walked off.

I share that story not only because it is humorous, but to illustrate how seriously the military is about firearms always being used with the highest regard for security and safety.

I'm sure law enforcement officials such as police officers and sheriffs are similar in having strict rules and regulations to ensure the secure and safe use of their firearms.

I'm firmly convinced that our country needs much stricter rules, regulations and law enforcement for all citizens owning, carrying, storing, and using firearms.

I know the argument is that "criminals" are the ones misusing firearms, not "law-abiding" citizens. But actually almost all of the mass shootings having been done by law-abiding citizens. Let me repeat that because it is very important to know: almost all of the mass shootings have been done by law abiding citizens who legally bought and owned the firearm, including most of them being firearms specifically invented for military use, not for hunting or personal protection.

We have much stricter laws on the secure and safe purchase and use of vehicles than we do for firearms!! What's wrong with this picture?

As Christians, as followers of Jesus, what does Jesus reveal to us about firearms?

Of course during the time of Jesus, firearms had not been invented yet. But obviously people during his time used other types of weapons such as swords and knives.

Many people point out Jesus going into the temple in Matthew 21:12-13 as an example of Jesus using violence against someone. But the fact is that nothing in the text indicates he used any sort of weapon or even touched anyone, and he certainly was never violent! The text simply says he "drove" them out of the temple and knocked over their tables. There is no explanation of what "drove" means in this context.

In the Bible, there is not a single verse showing Jesus using his hands to carry or use a weapon. He only used his hands to heal. Jesus never advocated violence, only peaceful, compassionate, unconditional love.

We live in a violent world, just as Jesus did. But our goal and mission as his followers is not to give up and accept violence as the status quo. Jesus calls us to move now towards a holier level of living: one of peace. His famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5-7) is the way, truth, and life of Jesus: "love one another as I have loved you."

Hate doesn't defeat hate, love defeats hate. Peace be with you, my friends.

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