Tag Archives: Guns

This we don’t need

It’s been a week since the attack on OSU campus. As you might imagine this particular act of violence struck a little closer to home than most. I’m an alum of OSU and live a few miles north of the campus.My dad is involved with campus ministry, as are some people I used to go to bible study with. While I don’t go down there as often as I used to, I did see a game with my wife earlier this fall, and I sometimes go for a sentimental walk to No. 1 Chinese, Used Kids Records or just down the Oval. I think of OSU as part of my home.

I’m grateful that people were not more seriously hurt and that the situation was able to be resolved in a short amount of time. Though things certainly seemed uncertain for most of Monday morning (I spent the day trying to get work done while listening to 10TV news feeds and Facebook Live press conferences) the actual incident was only about a minute.

Not long after the attack a friend of mine said on social media that he wasn’t looking forward to whatever hateful thing the President-elect was going to tweet on the subject. And sure enough, the Donald delivered:

ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
There are a lot of things wrong with this tweet. For starters, the motive of this 18 year old student will likely never be firmly known, and speculating is a destructive activity. Of course ISIS claimed credit. The attacker isn’t alive to contradict them, and it makes them look like they have more influence. Second, Columbus, Ohio has a thriving Somali community (who were among the first to condemn the attack). We have a legacy of taking in refugees for over 25 years. The president-elect may have won Ohio, but he didn’t win Columbus and he doesn’t know this city or have a right to speak for it.

But honestly it isn’t even Trump I want to talk about, but the people who are using this attack as an opportunity to advocate for a concealed or open carry policy on campus. This culminated today in a group of people parading around the campus carrying guns. Let me repeat. A week after a violent attack on a college campus, a group of non-students organized by a gun-rights activist from Cincinatti decided it was a good idea to march around with guns including assault rifles.

Now to be fair the students were notified, and the advocates were escorted by police the whole way. But this was far from a calm discussion of gun rights. When a professor questioned the group’s presence and said this wasn’t what the college needed, the gun-advocates questioned his citizenship. Lot’s of students are still dealing with the trauma and the fear of the last week. This community is still healing.

There was a lot of luck and providence in last Monday’s attack. A gas leak meant that an officer could be on the scene in less than a minute, and good training resolved the situation quickly. The school’s alert system notified everyone almost as the attack was happening, and the run-hide-fight protocol probably kept a number of students safe. One of the people injured by the attacker had military training, and even tried to grab the knife. There were heroic and well trained people on scene. The students were as prepared as any student population could be. And I believe God was there as well.

Here’s what a someone with a concealed carry permit would have added to that situation. Unless they had hours of extensive training dealing with active-attacker situation, there’s a decent liklihood they would not have drawn their gun, or fired it if they did pull it out. If they drew their gun and fired there is no guaruntee they would not have injured people besides the attacker. And when the officer came on scene they’d be adding another confusing element to a hot situation. Unless they were immediately compliant with the officer’s commands, they’d stand a decent likelihood of being shot themselves.

You may disagree with my assessment, and that’s fine. I know a lot of reasonable people who are gun enthusiasts. Maybe we can discuss it calmly in a month or two. But for right now, why don’t we spend our time having a national conversation about what OSU did to prepare for attacks like these, and praising the work of a fine young officer. Let’s not tar an entire community because of the actions of one person, and let’s stop waving guns around for a while.

That’s not too much to ask, right?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Take a beat

I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of this one for a few days.

The tragedy in Sandy Hook has elicited every kind of response from the supportive and caring, to the vitriolic and callous. All of us want to find a way to express our anger, our frustration, our grief, and our love. Many of us want to do so publicly, but I’d ask us to reflect for a moment on what’s helpful and thoughtful, and what’s not.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not a fan of sound-byte sized opinions. But if I was to have one on this situation it would be; Take a beat. Think before you speak and especially before you write something permanent.

There’s a time and a place for the gun control debate, but both sides seem a little late to the party during a tragedy such as this. There’s a time for thinking about the violence in our culture, from video games to TV, but with an understanding that no two things are the same, and a whole genre or medium can’t be judged by a few bad apples. Both video games and guns are like alcohol, most of us know how to drink and use responsibly, and some of us are drunks, or maniacs. That doesn’t mean we should ban any of these things. We tried it with alcohol and it didn’t go so well.

And specifically to those of you using Israel as an example for why we should have guns in schools, I’d ask that you think for a moment about how their situation is just a little bit different than ours. Perspective is something sorely needed by people sharing this view. The daily threats of destruction and violence in Israel are something America has no experience with, and we’re arrogant if we think we have the same thing here.

During times of tragedy like this we often accuse our politicians of exploiting the situation for political gain. Democrats enact tougher gun control and Republicans fight back. But what do the rest of us actually have to gain? What do we gain by reaching into the deepest, darkest recesses of ourselves, and showing our true nature to the world? Or worse, what do we gain by having a knee-jerk reaction, of jumping on a sharing, liking, tweeting bandwagon, without a thought as to why, associating our names, our reputations permanently.

Frankly, I’m disappointed in some of my Facebook friends, my friends. These are people I know who think deeply, and who care deeply, allowing themselves to distill it all to putrid sludge. You’re better than this! Maybe rather than typing something five seconds after you hear it, go to sleep, reflect, pray, think for God’s sake. Discuss it with family, with friends, on the phone or in person where you have time to make a real argument, and where your words can be forgotten if they weren’t worth speaking.

It’s free speech, but can we all agree that all that is permissible is not all good? We all want to help those in grief, and to make this a better nation, but we accomplish more by faith, and prayer, and thought, than we do by a lack of thinking. Rather than saying we need guns in the schools, talk to your friends, your neighbors, and your PTA about how you can make your school safer. We can use this tragedy to make things better. Unspeakable evil can be countered, can be used for good.

Let’s remember a little old wisdom, think before you speak. And tweet, and meme, and like, and share. And let’s take the time to make real change, in our nation  and in ourselves.


Filed under Uncategorized

One More Gun. Really?!

A number of my (now former) Facebook friends have been expressing sentiments like this one:

“The shooting in Aurora would have gone a lot differently if people had been allowed to concealed carry. There would be only one death, the perpetrator.”

Just as those in favor of gun control tend to come out of the woodwork during a violent tragedy, so too come the gun supporters. I don’t necessarily think our national policy on gun control should be decided by our visceral reactions to tragedy, but by the same token thoughts like the one above need a reality check.

He was in full body armor

If someone had been concealed carrying and had tried to take James Holmes down they would have had a difficult time of it. His chest, head and neck were protected by SWAT grade body armor.

Who is the criminal?

It took a trained eye by the officers on scene to recognize discrepancies in Holmes’ armor and identify him as not part of their team. In a tense chaotic situation like the one in that theater, is it not reasonable to assume that anyone firing a gun might be assumed to be the cause and not the solution? Our vigilante hero might get a bullet for their trouble.

You’re not Rambo

I think what really gets to me about people who make this remark is that they are not the sort of people I would count on in a real crisis situation. They like to think that they’d be a hero, that they could take the criminal down, but it’s all talk. Until you’ve been in a tough situation you have no idea how you’d react, if you’d be able to assess the situation correctly and shoot the right target without hurting anyone else. We watch action movies and we think we can be part of them. I don’t care how much time you’ve spent on the range, how much training you’ve had, if you’ve never been tested in real life, then I don’t want you to have a gun.

It dishonors real heroes

There were heroes in that theater. Boyfriends who protected their loved ones by shielding them with their bodies. Best friends who gave life saving first aid, and carried their friends out of the fray. They weren’t armed, but they saved lives, sometimes by sacrificing their own. Anyone who fantasizes about saving those people through more violence dishonors the memory of the dead and the living.

It’s not a constitutional issue

You know what, the constitution was written more than 200 years ago. Maybe, just maybe, parts of it need to be revisited in the light of modern day. The 2nd ammendment back in colonial times would be like having the right to buy computers in modern times. Guns were tools, and tools far less capable of dealing mass death as the automatic weapons Holmes was legally able to get his hands on.

It’s not alright to disagree

In reply to my comment that statements like the one above were incorrect and insulting one former facebook friend said that he’s sorry I feel the way I do. He said that it’s okay that we disagree and that he would fight for my right to say what I want just as he’d fight for the right to keep his gun. Thanks, but no thanks. My first amendment rights are doing fine without your help. And sometimes ignorant and arrogant sentiments like this one need to be called for what they are. I support your right to be foolish, but that doesn’t make you any less of a fool.

As you can tell I’m a bit angry. Ultimately it’s Facebook. I can just unfriend this person and they’ll disappear from my life forever. But reality is there are plenty more who think the way he did. It’s not okay. We need to think more about the things we say (that’s why it took me a week to decide to even write this post). Maybe our twitter and 24 hour news based society has causes us to “shoot from the hip” (if you’ll parson the expression), but that’s never been a particularly good way to discuss anything. Whether you agree with me or not on gun rights, you can see how comments like the one above do nothing to help the current situation. We should be better than this.

Thankfully, many of us are. There have been more posts with prayers and thoughts going out to the families then I’ve seen for any recent tragedy. Christian Bale visited victims. It’s not all a bad world.


Filed under Uncategorized