Since I make no secret of my belief that the U.S. should ban military-style assault rifles, it will be no surprise to readers of The Herald that I will once again advocate that belief in the wake of the use of such a weapon last week in the soul-wrenching murder of 17 Florida High School students. As long as I have the breath of life, I believe I have no right to deny or keep silent about the denial of life to others. And let me make clear, too, that nearly 40 years ago, I did my best in the pages of The Herald to eviscerate the cynical death-dealing logic of the Roe v. Wade decision, which permitted the widespread practice of abortifacient infanticide in the United States.
As the late Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago used to say, ethics for Christians is a seamless web. If you believe that life and human self-hood come from God, you have to advocate life for everybody, for children in schools, for little girls to be safe in their Mother’s wombs. So, I get my unpopularity honestly, at least among the numerous people in our society who in various ways promote what the late Pope John Paul II so aptly named, “The Culture of Death.” I have felt the sting of that reproach pretty directly here in good old Ottawa, Kansas, where the gun and pro-choice culture have their own strong advocates. I have heard that personal reproach even in an Ottawa church.
Even so, at the moment I have only two things to add to the current discussion about the gunslaughter currently promoted by Rush Limbaugh and other gun fanatics. In their belief, the way to deal with killings in schools is not to ban any gun whatever. No, Sir; No, Ma’am. Instead, he says, the way to deal with it is to spread conceal carry and other solutions, like arming teachers and perhaps even selected students with firearms. Now, in the first place, I am not against the presence of armed police officers in schools. I think there is something to say for that. But arming anybody else is pure madness and for a simple reason. When active shooter situations erupt, the first thing responding SWAT teams and other officers are taught to do is to use their own weapons to put down anybody else who is armed and shooting. They are taught to do that because every such situation is inherently extremely chaotic and irrational. Their first duty — and, yes, it is a duty — is to stop the firing of weapons, to protect life.
In an active shooting situation, no officer has or should be expected to have a duty to go around asking an armed shooter whether he is with the good guys or the bad guys. Modern firearms totally rule out any such madness. They are designed to kill instantaneously, before any soul whomsoever has time or the presence of mind to reach for his weapon and get the drop on the real bad guy. Spreading more weapons around in any such scenario is pure madness.
Second, I want to say something about Christians and churches and guns and abortion. I don’t want to turn churches into political organizations. I want some peace and quiet when I go to church. But let’s get real, Christians. We live in a society that is close to losing all sense of the divine origin of human life and self-hood. We have seen slaughter even in churches.
We have no choice but to open our minds to the truth, which is that a scientific culture devoid of all reverence for God and human life is not truth but the work of Satan. Even a good old atheist like Bertrand Russell got hot under the collar during the 1930s, when the Nazis and the eugenicists began to spread their insidious doctrines. Manipulation, exploitation and destruction of human “biological material,” he said, should be prohibited by every consideration of ethics and truth. America today is losing its grip on that simple truth. Are we free today to hear the true expansive implications of that simple truth in America’s churches, in Ottawa’s churches? I’m not so sure we are. That alarms me.
David A. Lee,