Guns and Life

by Paul Alexander

I grew up with a lot of guns in the house, and I loved them.  I was a junior member of the National Rifle Association, then an adult member, and I read American Hunter and American Rifleman every month when they arrived in the mail.  I used to lay out our family’s guns on the bed and admire them lovingly.  We would take them apart in the living room for fun and clean them.  We had several Remington pump shotguns with actions so smooth I could lock and load a shell with one smooth motion.  I had a lever action 30-30 rifle that I used to hunt deer and a bolt-action .30-06 (pronounced ‘thirty-aught-six’) from World War I that had been ‘sporterized’ that I also used to hunt deer.  I once legally killed three deer in less than a minute with that bolt-action rifle and a scope.  My dad was so happy, and so was I.  I also had a .22 caliber revolver and a 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol.  And a .22 caliber rifle, and a single shot shotgun.  And a double barrel shotgun.

Although most of these guns were for hunting animals like ducks, pheasants, turkeys, dove, quail, rabbits, squirrel, or deer (what we hunted in Kansas), and they were all legally obtained, they could have been used for killing people.  In fact, I used to fantasize about how I would kill with these weapons anyone who broke into our home.  I even stuck a rifle out of my second-floor bedroom window and trained the scope on some people as they walked up our driveway late one night.  We didn’t know who they were, and my parents were anxious.  So I went upstairs, unbeknownst to them, and prepared to defend the family with a loaded World War I thirty aught six.  Thankfully, I didn’t pull the trigger.  Thankfully, they turned around and walked away. Unsurprisingly, as a freshman in college I focused my ‘persuasive speech’ in speech class as an argument against gun control.  But I’ve changed my mind.

Guns are made for killing and destroying.  Even if designed for killing ducks or deer, they’re made for killing and they can be used to kill humans.  However, many guns sold in the US now are designed and manufactured for killing humans, and they’re easily accessible.  This has to change—the US must make guns more difficult to obtain, and this is a political battle worth engaging in even though it has not been popular.  In an article in The Atlantic, the economist Richard Florida has shown clearly the correlation between more gun control laws and less gun-related violence.  Furthermore, mass-shootings-map 75% of the 142 guns used in mass killings in the US have been obtained legally—the very large majority of which were semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons.

I have been weeping regularly since Friday, when I first learned of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza killed 28 people, including himself.  He killed 20 children—each one only 6 or 7 years old—his mother, and six other adults (all listed below) with a semiautomatic rifle and semiautomatic handguns.

We as a society must care for those among us who are struggling and this includes behavioral and mental health for people like Adam Lanza.  It also includes limiting access to weapons designed for killing people.  Being proactive in our awareness and care for people who are suffering is crucial, and along with that we need strong laws that make obtaining these kinds of weapons difficult.  These atrocities are rarely carried out with shotguns; they are most often carried out with legally obtained weapons designed for killing many people quickly.  May we have the will and strength to love all of those around us who are suffering, to provide healthcare as widely as possible, and to make it harder to buy and own weapons designed to kill people.  We can do it.

We remember the victims and pray God’s mercy and comfort for their families, friends, and community.
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Lauren Russeau, 20
Victoria Soto, 27
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Nancy Lanza, 52
Mary Sherlach, 56
Adam Lanza, 20

See a Geography of Gun Deaths as of a year ago.
See “Crossfire”  by Drick Boyd in the September/October 2011 issue of PRISM, about the gun lobby and the faith communities who are taking it on.

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3 Responses

  1. Frank Reeder says:

    Thank you for including Adam Lanza as one of the victims in this penetrating article. You are in a rare position to speak as one who knows with authenticity the feelings that lead to tragic places. Your personal experiences as a youth who had a love affair with guns and your journey to wisdom and responsibility gives this message authority.

  2. Betty says:

    Guns dont kill, people do. If my girls had not had a gun to protect them, my now 42 yr old daughter could be dead at the age of about 11 or raped or worse, left for dead. Six men were breaking into our home, one was half way through a window, say a 30 aught 6 pointed at his head & all six left in a big hurry. Guns are not the problem, they cannot walk, cannot load themselves or pull the trigger. If Paul Alexander pointed a gun at people for nor reason, then he didn’t have the right training at how to handle a gun. I was raised around guns, my daughters were raised around guns, my grandchildren have been, except a few & no one has even thought about shooting anyone. I say no to gun ban, it isn’t the guns fault.

  3. Robert Edgar says:

    My understanding of my Christian faith is that it is not based on “my rights” or what I “own,” but upon God’s grace and His call to serve. My primary citizenship is not in the United States, but in the kingdom of heaven. I am confident that the ownership of the three firearms I have is not in danger from any of the regulations proposed by President Obama. But American Christianity has become too influenced by consumerism and Constitutional rights. Regardless of how wonderful these things may be, they are of this world system and are subject to the deterioriation of this system. The one thing I have that no one can take away is my eternal standing with God through Jesus Christ. The other “stuff” that American Christianity has come to value has dimmed our eyes to the one thing that will outlast everything this world can offer. Seeing my Savior in heaven for eternity matters more than anything here on earth, even if it means that I forgo some, or all, of the rights or possessions I temporarily have here on this earth.

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