Christians and Violence; Or, the Sandy Hook Massacre, One Year Later
by Nicole Plyler Fisk
I’ve enjoyed listening to Christmas music this holiday season, because, honestly: I wasn’t able to listen to it after December 14th last year. At. all. I would try to turn it on when in the car with the kids, thinking they would enjoy it, but the jingles were just too depressing after 20 first graders lost their lives while making Christmas crafts at their elementary school.
I woke up thinking about their families today, on the 1-year anniversary. I’ve thought about them often throughout the year: when I see fictional gun violence on television (can they even watch it? or is it like, as I imagine it would be, seeing the bullets enter *their* child?); when I’ve read about the 194 children we’ve lost to gun violence since Newtown (can they read about those children, without having a physical response — a lurch in the gut?); or when I’ve seen, throughout the year, their devastated faces as gun regulation measure after gun regulation measure has been defeated, due to the NRA’s insane hold on an insane country (how does it feel to make your grief public, when all you want to do is hide, only to be defeated again and again?).
It’s just too sad.
Of all the things I expected to feel and read today, though, I have to say that I did *not* expect to come across buy-a-Glock advertisements as status updates on personal Facebook pages. But, they’re there, being shared and lauded on the 1-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Interestingly enough, everyone who either shares or likes this video is a self-proclaimed evangelical Christian, with nativity scenes as profile photos and “the Bible verse of the day!” displayed alongside the Glock advertisement. Funny that the Bible verse is *never* “turn the other cheek” or “blessed are the peacemakers” or “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”
The *only* self-proclaimed evangelical Christian who has murmured a *word* about the Sandy Hook anniversary posted the following photo with the injunction: “pray for a lost world that is in desperate need of so much more than we can ever do on our own.”
Kudos to him for acknowledging, at least, that Sandy Hook was a thing. But, I start twitching whenever I come across the “we can’t do it/only God can” idea, because all too often that’s a convenient excuse to be passive, to wait for some higher power to fix things instead of taking on the responsibility ourselves.
Because the truth is we can do better, just like scores of others (Australians and Britons, anyone?) already have.
And one of the ways we can be and do better is to be informed and to be honest. Because one thing that President Obama, despite the machinations of the NRA, has been able to do is end the 17-year-long block on federally funded gun research (the fact that such a thing existed, and for so long, makes America seem more like North Korea than a free nation, but I digress).
Myth: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.
Fact-check: Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 30 years: 0
• Chances that a shooting at an ER involves guns taken from guards: 1 in 5
Myth: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer.
Fact-check: In 2011, nearly 10 times more people were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime.
• In one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property. However, a closer look at their claims found that more than 50% involved using guns in an aggressive manner, such as escalating an argument.
• A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.
Myth: Guns make women safer.
Fact-check: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.
• A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.
• One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.
Despite the fact that the Glock commercial features a fantasy land, where the “bad guy” around the corner literally faints at the sight of a gun (I kid you not), it *does* at least promote safe gun storage (a fingerprint activated safe) and an appreciation for working with law enforcement rather than playing the hero.
My problem is:
most of those Christians who are circulating and lauding the commercial (today of all days) aren’t doing so to advocate for gun safety or even to promote productive dialogue about a complicated issue. They’re doing so to celebrate guns and to “offend a liberal” — which (again, I kid you not) the article in which the commercial is ensconced urges. Oh: the article also urges intruders to break into liberals’ homes, because liberals most likely don’t have guns — Christ-like, isn’t it? Tis the season.