Thursday, January 14, 2016

If we're going to discuss guns, can we at least discuss relevant questions?

My family is hosting an exchange student. She goes to the local Christian School. Two days ago she remarked that they discuss guns in the United States in her social studies/history class. I applaud the teacher for raising that topic with the students. It's a very timely topic, and students need to develop the ability to discuss contemporary issues within a historical context, and vice versa.

According to our exchange student, however, when it came time for the students to discuss the issue, the question was simply framed as whether we should or shouldn’t have guns. Admittedly, her English is still sub-par, so this may not be completely accurate. Nevertheless, if it is accurate, it disappointed me tremendously, as it’s completely the wrong question.

Problem 1: The question in extremely simplistic.
This is not an either-or issue. There are a vast range of opinions and possible positions. To put the question in such simplistic terms is divisive, and it is demeaning to people’s intelligence.

Problem 2: Having or not having guns is completely irrelevant.
The Second Amendment in the US Bill of Rights guarantees that the people of the United States, in general, have the right to own firearms. That is something that is not and cannot be debated, so it isn't really a valid question. People who frame the question in such a way do a disservice to the whole discussion.

That said, the Second Amendment guarantees the right to own firearms. But, it says nothing about how that right is supposed to be managed. Management questions are the questions that require discussion at this time in history.

  • Who should (or shouldn’t) have the right to bear arms?
  • What qualifications do people need to own firearms?
  • Should training be mandatory?
  • When should that right be revoked for an individual or group?
  • When and how should guns be taken away from specific individuals or groups?
  • Who should be able to sell firearms?
  • What kind of licenses should they be required to obtain?

These and other questions like these are the questions that could be discussed, that would be relevant to the issue. Unfortunately, it seems that none of these were discussed in the class, unless other students mentioned them.

Problem 3: Where was Christ in this conversation?
This may not be relevant to many in the US population. It would probably not be relevant in a public high school class. In a Christian school, however, should not the question of faith come into the conversation? Should it not be an essential part of the conversation? How about asking a question like one of these:

  • Given what you know about the teachings of the Bible, what do you think would be a Christian response to gun ownership?
  • If Jesus were physically with us in class today, what do you think he would say about gun ownership?
  • Forgetting your US Constitutional rights for the moment, what do you think might be a biblical view of gun ownership?

If a parent is sending a child or children to a Christian school, it would seem that they want their children to have a Christian worldview. If the teachers are not even going to ask these kinds of questions on this issue (and many others), students won’t end up with a Christian approach to life and thought. Rather, they end up with what Darrow Miller has called Evangelical Gnosticism, which is more of a sickness than a worldview.


  1. Matt, your last two posts have been brilliant, examining Communion and now Guns in the US. I appreciate reading something worth thinking about.

    1. Thank you for you kind praise. I also encourage you to share posts that you like. Increased readership is always nice. (Shameless plug)