As a person who loves to agonize, I sometimes want to scream. “What is it you don’t understand about the ‘Thou shall not kill’ commandment"? I’m also a person who loves to analyze, so I get that the translation should probably be "Thou shall not murder." I also understand that, in order for an organic entity to live, another organic entity must die. I include plants in that tenet, by the way.
My scream would be directed at those who favor mass possession of guns. Exactly what is a “gun”?
a weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.
Sounds pretty innocuous. But what is a “weapon”?
a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage
Ah. As Shakespeare noted, there’s the rub.
According to TRACE, a website devoted to “investigating gun violence in America,” approximately 465 million guns have been produced in the United States since 1899. Assuming a 1% attrition rate per year, there would be about 352 million guns in circulation. That’s more than people. These statistics are elusive because research in this area has been strongly opposed by the gun lobby.
It's a dilemma. Gun violence in our country increasingly has become a public issue. Although the second amendment of our constitution includes the words “militia” and “arms,” the word “gun” is not present in that text. The intention of the second amendment seems clear; yet clarity seems lacking in the means by which this public right is to be protected. Since late December of 1791, a number of the factors which created the impetus for this amendment have changed. Enormous improvements have been made in the technology of weaponry. Threats to national security are much broader than face-to-face encounters between individuals or groups of citizens and our adversaries.
So why do we need so many guns in the United States? Guns are plentiful, relatively easy to obtain and use. But many people use guns to solve problems that could and should be solved by peaceful methods. The website for RAWtools includes this paragraph:
“With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the people of the US own nearly half the world’s guns. America also holds the record for the most gun deaths—homicide, suicide, and accidental gun deaths—at around ninety a day and about thirty-three thousand per year. Some people say it’s a heart problem. Others say it’s a gun problem. The authors of Beating Guns believe it’s both.”
This is what I believe. It is the impetus behind Plymouth’s decision to collaborate with Longmont UCC, Moms Demand Action, and several other groups to help develop a larger community of people in two events on September 8 and 9. On September 8, we will host RAWtools and other groups working toward gun safety and ending gun violence in an evening of thoughtful reflection and celebration of life. The next morning, September 9, Plymouth will be the site of a practical opportunity for safe surrender of guns, those that are unwanted and/or unusable, by members of our community.
May we find safer, better paths.