I've been meaning to write this for awhile.
I believe in human change. I believe that humans, no matter their upbringing, are able to change who they are. As a Christian, who has seen the change that God can make in an individual's life, I believe in change. As a Christian I believe that God's grace can show a child of God (all of us) who we truly are, so that we might set eyes on God alone, the one with the power to transform. Our hearts are aimed inwardly, God can change such a heart.
Humans can change not only for the better, however. They can also change for the worse. We've seen that all throughout history. People who have been known to destroy the world with their power and violence were often unrecognized as violent people previously. We see this in some of the mass shootings too. How many of the mass shooting criminals were caught beforehand? After, we often hear family and friends say, "He was quiet, but I could have never foreseen something like this," or "He was a good kid, made jokes, etc. How could he even be capable of such a thing?" This is true in immediate history as well as we all watched Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's parents claim that America had framed their children for this tragedy. A parent can rarely imagine their child doing that much harm.
At the heart of this issue is something we know deep down inside our souls: people change. Some people grow up in loving households with loving parents. Then something happens. Something makes them angry. Something depresses them. They become passionate about something. They play a violent video game. They begin to dream.
And one day they walk into a high school and kill 12 of their classmates. Or they mail a box of evidence to NBC news. Or they walk into an elementary school and open fire. Were there warning signs? Sure. There always are. Did the signs go unnoticed? Sure. They often do. Because of the lack of friends, a parent's unbelief that their child would be capable of something like that, or the busyness of others' lives, blind eyes are often turned and terrible tragedy strikes.
There is much discussion as of late as to how to prevent such tragedies for fear that if we don't do something it'll happen again. As it has over and over and over again. Many supporters of personal gun rights argue that the problem isn't the weaponry itself. They have a compelling argument; after all, guns require human intervention to actually inflict harm on another being. If legislation involving guns, however, is not feasible because of Second Amendment guarantees, those wanting to stop such violence turn to other means.
Many pro-gun people are advocating that mental screenings ought to come into effect at the point of gun sale. This seems helpful to me. If we can stop someone who is mentally unstable from purchasing a dangerous weapon, perhaps it will not only save others' lives but it will save theirs as well. What about, though, a person owning a gun for years before they use it to mow down a classroom of elementary schoolers? What about a mother who stores the guns in the violent child's bedroom? What about a grandfather passing a gun down to his grandchild just for his grandchild to develop depression later in life and decide to take life into his own hands?
There are many, many questions. None with perfectly viable solutions.
At the heart of those questions above though is the principle discussed previously: people change. If a weapon exists that allows them to cause damage and they're able to get the weapon before they go crazy, or through other means who won't ask them about their craziness, what is the solution? The NRA suggests that more gun owners would mean a safer environment. But if more people, who have the potential to change from good to bad, own dangerous weapons, doesn't that mean that the potential for more bad people to have dangerous weapons is there? Couldn't a good person with a gun, under the right circumstances, turn into a bad person with a gun? Isn't the issue, then, in some sense the gun itself? Isn't there a point in which we realize that the weapon simply isn't good for us?
We cannot control the change in people. America is a society where the winner wins and the loser gets screwed. America is a society where community is only valued in nationalistic sense and where someone who does us harm or simply doesn't fit in is written off in an instant. America simply isn't set up to care about the change in people (see how criminals are treated when they're released from prison as an example). If America, then, can't prevent a change from good to bad in its citizen, what then can it do?
People ask me why I'm "anti-gun" all the time. The answer is simple, really. I'm scared of this change. I'm scared of the change in me. I recognize my own brokenness. I am what I consider to be a "good person" who "could never do something like that." I have no history of violence. I passed my psychological exam for ordination. I'm a normal guy who cares for people, loves his family, and wants less people to die in the world.
And yet I fear, under the right circumstances with the right tools, the damage I could do...due to my own brokenness.
Further, I think anyone who denies that their brokenness couldn't, given the right situation, get the better of them is fooling themselves. And they're not familiar enough with Peter, who is the rock upon which the Christian church was founded yet who denied Jesus three times, raised a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, and who Jesus referred to as Satan and an obstacle.
People change. It's time that we realized that. And cared. We can't prevent every human being from being violent in the midst of their change. We can't prevent them from changing. What we CAN do is affect the damage done during such violence, hopefully resulting in less people dying.
That's all I want. In the midst of change, I want less people to die.