As Marie Antoinette once famously said, “Let them bear guns” although, to be fair, there was quite a loud howling gale of wind at the time she said it and so history has mistakenly recorded her words as “let them eat cake” which is what those at the back of the crowd swear that they heard.
A slightly more true story is that after the recent tragic shooting in Las Vegas and some conversations about gun ownership, i decided to run a poll on Facebook to see if there was any correlation between how people feel about gun ownership and the death penalty.
THE GUNS AND DEATH POLL
So which of these letters MOST CLOSELY describes your views on these matters:
[A] Thinks responsible people can own guns and is for the death penalty
[B] Think responsible people can own guns and is against the death penalty
[C] Thinks no one [police excluded in an ideal world where police are the good guys which is not true for many today] should have guns and is for the death penalty.
[D] Thinks no one [police excluded in an ideal world where police are the good guys which is not true for many today] should have guns and against the death penalty.
After about a day of polling, here are the results that came in:
[A] 9 people [yes guns, yes death penalty]
[B] 23 people [yes guns, no death penalty]
[C] 4 people [no guns, yes death penalty]
[D] 57 people [no guns, no death penalty]
Also, as there often are with these things, there were a few people who coloured outside of the lines. The two most helpful exceptions were:
# Two people said E – no-one including police should have guns, no death penalty
# A number of people said B or D [circumstance depending] and i have no idea what that means as i did not ask anyone to clarify.
But the majority of people played by the rules, which was a request to choose a letter and not comment and it was an interesting experiment.
Firstly, i was very surprised that so many other people were against the death penalty, because any time i have spoken about that it seems to have received much pushback. But 80 out of 93 people were against the death penalty. That makes me very happy and while there is no easy solution to situations where we find the kind of people that others would want the death penalty for, for me it is often the idea that we kill people to show that killing people is wrong. Does not make sense.
For me on that one, i would love to see a greater move for prisons to be places of rehabilitation as opposed to just punishment [or in the states and other places big business, slash some might say a modern version of slavery] because that would make a huge difference in society as a whole. People should not be dispensible and so easy to throw away.
Secondly, just looking at gun ownership [of those deemed responsible] we have 61 people against and 32 people for.
What was really great was that there was a lot of conversation around guns and gun ownership and what different people through was okay and what they didn’t.
[i get accused on occasion of surrounding myself with people who agree with me and this is clearly a conversation where i have strong disagreement with a number of people and yet we managed to remain civil about it. i find it super valuable hearing why other people think differently on an issue, because it either helps me to change my opinion on something [which happens a LOT more than you might expect] or else it helps me strengthen my belief that i already have. Dialogue is so valuable. Trolling is something different and while we might interpret that in different ways, when people come to deliberately misdirect conversations or refuse to listen to what other people are actually saying or make things personal beyond what is being discussed, that tends to set me off a little.]
But back to guns, my friend Wayne Eaves sent me an amazing comedy piece by a guy called Jim Jeffries on gun control and it is a little rough in parts in terms of his delivery but you can check it out on my Facebook page over here, but one of the responses a lot of Americans have to the whole gun control thing is that it is an inherent right “because it’s in the constitution” and this piece by Jim Jeffries from that clip addresses that nicely:
“I can get someone after the show in the car park yelling at me in my face, “You can’t change the second amendment.”
“Yes, you can. It’s an amend-ment. If you don’t know what an amendment is, then you need a thesaurus more than you need a constitution. And if you don’t know what a thesaurus is, then get a dictionary and work your way forward.’
[Jim Jeffries on gun control]
Much better with an Australian accent… but ja, there seems to be this set-in-stone mentality that so many Americans have about the constitution as if the people who put it together were perfect and as if God had ordained it as a truth that will stand the test of time. As Jeffries points out, it wasn’t even that because it has amendments – ah man, there is some speech in some movie that i can’t remember where someone is talking about the constitution and how the people who put it together were wise enough to know they didn’t know everything and so they created space for it to be updated and corrected as it needed to be… speech is happening in my mind, can’t remember the movie.
But yes, “because the constitution says so” doesn’t seem to be good enough to cover mass shootings that are happening in schools, in churches, in clubs and now at music concerts at an alarmingly increasing rate.
“Because the constitution says so” doesn’t seem to cut it when it comes to the fact that something like 43 people have been shot by children under the age of 4 [that have been reported] in Americaland this year alone.
Things like that should make us say, “We need to do something about this!” And yes, if we took away all the guns people would still find ways to kill each other because people. But every time another shooting occurs, there is a buzz for a week and hashtags and prayers and thoughts get created and sent, but nothing is changed.
i found Jimmy Kimmel’s words on this thing super helpful, looking at it from a purely human aspect:
As for me, if it wasn’t obvious, i’m a D person. i don’t think people should have guns and in particular some of the people arguing to have guns, i really don’t think should have guns. Are there exceptions Yes, one of my friends messaged me and this is what he said:
Hey bru, Just saw your post about guns and the poll you are taking. for your interest my answer is B. a lot of my work requires me to carry at least one gun and sometimes i have a pistol as a back-up. Cannot do my job without it here as i guide people through fairly dangerous areas and need to stop them getting trodden on by elephants or gently nibbled by lions, and although we take every precaution not to get our clients in harms way and don’t take chances, i still need a weapon for those times.
i don’t want to be responsible for someone being gently nibbled by lions and so this for me feels like an easy exception. i believe that guns might be necessary when overpopulation of animals demands a culling [if there is not a better way to avoid that] and when it is for food but am very much against guns when it is for sport. If someone thinks that is hypocritical i would far sooner lean towards no killing of animals at all than i would for allowing us to hunt for sport.
i also don’t think the death penalty is the right answer and think we need to do so much better with our prisons to find what that best answer is. As a follower of Jesus there is the additional element of believing that in every person i can see the image of God, always blemished in some way by what we and culture and context and life and sin add to it, but the image of God is present in every person. To snuff that out and not give it a chance to be redeemed is an awful awful thing.
i do also think that if we collectively lived life better – if we were nicer to people – if we genuinely looked to serve those around us instead of benefitting from their struggle – if we tackled the economic systems that benefit some while really hurting others – if we could learn to share our time and resources and money and food and skills a lot better – if we looked out for the loner and the marginalised and the ‘invisible’ and the stranger and the hurting and took a moment to see them and give them a space to share their story and invited them in – if we adopted a #NotOnOurWatch mentality and practice that refused to let racism and sexism and trollism go unchallenged in front of us, both online and offline – who knows, maybe a lot of this stuff would just work itself out and we would have a much smaller need for guns and killing people?
What do YOU think about guns? Are you a gun owner? Would you be? Do you think it’s okay for others to be?