Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Quaker considers guns

Listen to this post:

Ok, so I admit to being a bleeding heart. And, yes, my philosophy is even left of liberal. But I am also open to all views and love to learn. With that, I embarked on reading a rather long blog written by an interesting novelist who owned a gun store, is a firearms’ instructor, a competitive shooter and has written extensively and testified on the subject. No lack of ego in citing his credentials or plugging his book sales on Amazon. But, frankly, I read it because two people I respect re-posted the blog.

After cycling through the 10,000 words three times, I now understand the author's two main points:
– When dealing with mass shooters, an immediate, violent response is necessary;
– The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment, legalizing the possession and use arms for self defense, has created an American gun culture that will use its arms to defend this right.
(SELF DEFENSE AT ANY COST, again, my interpretation). 

As a result, the author asserts, gun-free zones and stricter gun control won't work with bad people who do bad things. More guns mean less crime. Mass shooters are smart and motivated by media coverage. More-average criminals just don't care about being law-abiding.

Of course, I don't want more mass shootings or anyone to suffer, but are more guns, possibly less controls, the answer? And concealed guns in schools? The author suggests that persons in every school should be voluntarily trained and carry concealed guns ... rifles are just too bulky and inconvenient, though more accurate. But, then, that's why magazines, which the author says anyone can learn to load after a few sessions in the mirror, are so necessary.

I feel as if I have awoken in a very scary dream. If this, truly, is the real world, then I want no part of it. Different language and culture, millenia between, but this sounds like Old-Testament times: an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth. A gun for a gun and more guns are better.

I have discovered that my model for living is Jesus. It's taken me quite awhile to acknowledge. I believe God's point in sending Jesus was to prove that love, nothing else, is the answer to living as we are meant. For goodness sake, God sacrificed her own son. There's no reconciliation between this and guns in my heart.

This blog, however, continues to haunt me as I discern, try to read behind the lines and get a sense of another human's perspective that, apparently, belongs to many. It breaks my heart and jolts my worldview. Admittedly, so do mass shootings.

I do agree with the author that an immediate, violent response is what will stop individual mass shooters. That would solve the individual situation, possibly spare others, but, likely, kill the perpetrator.  Death for death. 

Perhaps I have spent too many years practicing yoga, enjoying loving-kindness meditations, carving out more room in my heart for those hurting, immersing myself in one of the historical peace churches and deeply taking in my inner teacher's messages, including love your enemy, to know any other way.

When adults, including the local police, in the community Artsy Fartsy serves told us to stay away from the long-term, trouble- making family, we didn't listen. Their youngest wants to be part of this and has been a gem, shining here. In fact, girls who held onto historic patterns in their community have learned that, when you get to know someone beyond the surface, we are alike. Patterns are re-forming and new friendships are emerging within these walls. Not because we shunned the "predator" family.

This is such a small act, though guided by Spirit, and I don't know how it relates to solving larger, societal questions. While I grew weary of the pop-WWJD craze, I really do wonder how Jesus would handle this. I think he'd take a deeper look at society and see where we are failing and demand we fix it. First, however, he'd probably walk up to the shooter, unarmed, taking his chances and look him in the eye, witnessing his wholeness and goodness, not just the evil he projects. After all, the shooter is as much a child of God as his victims. We may not like this, but it is the truth ... at least as far as I have discerned.

Fear is the root of gun culture. Fear of losing possessions, loved ones and life. Guns, apparently, empower the fearful. Besides, it’s a constitutional right.

My heart is not legislated by human law, but by Spirit’s. Life is about constantly dying; none of it is easy. Dying from our ego and into Divine union. I do not fear death; to me it’s the ultimate surrender. Of course, I don’t wish to die violently, at the hands of a shooter, but my prayer would be that I could look that person in the eye and see that of God in them.

Maybe if that had happened once, the shooter would not even have a gun.

• How does my conscience respond to the idea of guns as self defence?
• How does my heart respond?
• Could I ever love my enemy?
• What role does Jesus play in my life?
• What is Spirit’s role?

by the violence,

any of it:
shooter of the shooter

my own anger

finding a peaceful
respite in only
ONE place

the tunnel
within my heart
that connects
me to the

the tunnel
we all have


  1. Hi Cathy, I think that you are right on with your thoughts about this issue. The answer lies down that "tunnel" that you mentioned. The first Commandment, "No other gods" assures us that ultimately the only real control over our life is the one forever-loving Father-Mother that Jesus taught us about. As long as people don't grasp that, they will feel the need to worship other gods like Smith & Wesson or Beretta, but that doesn't change the facts that we are created by God and, as Jesus showed us with his crucifixion and resurrection, even brutal murderers can't take that real life away.
    We can't force society to see and accept this truth. For now, the most effective thing an individual can do is acknowledge and practice this truth in their own consciousness and actions.

  2. Thank you, Colin ... I reached the same conclusion ... that we can only do what we can do personally and pray. It's warming to see that others feel the same and I am grateful for your supportive scriptural references. Blessings!

  3. Hello Cathy and Quaker community,
    I would like to disagree, but am glad questions of civilian arms are being raised by Quakers.

    First of all I believe in the face of horrible violence such as at a school shooting. Peace is not served by forcing the potential victims or their guardians to be there without the choice to fight back. I believe an innocent person may protect themselves or the innocents around them without breaking a moral code of peace and care for others.

    Of course children cannot fight back in such a situation, but the innocent and courageous teachers or staff should be allowed to follow their leadings in such a tragic event.

    I was raised in a Quaker community by peace activists. I am privileged to be able to demonstrate my care and sacrifice for others by serving as volunteer firefighter and EMT in my community. My paying work is in healthcare. I am a father and a husband.

    Sincerely, brother B.

  4. Brother B –

    Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and experience. Thank you for your service as well. Such a hard situation. While I speak for myself, I can not for others and value hearing what those beliefs are.

    Blessings on journey and in your vocation.

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