The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads: ‘ A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Of course there continues to be great debate as to whether the right to bear arms relates to a militia of the State or to the rights of the individual. The cryptic nature of the amendment lends itself to a variety of interpretations.
As a Christian and as an American, I sometimes think that the Constitution of our nation is held in the same esteem as that of Scripture. Don’t get me wrong, I have deep respect for the wisdom of our nation’s founders and this great document which guides us. I also value the debate that goes on as to how this document over 200 years old is to be understood and applied to the context of modern time. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought of our societies access to assault weapons and body armor?
Now in the aftermath of this morning’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, resulting in 20 children dead, most ages 5 – 10, and 7 adults dead, I wonder if now we are ready to seriously debate the meaning of the second amendment? With the painful images fresh in our memory from Tuesdays shooting at the Clackamas Mall in Portland, are we now ready as a nation to seriously debate access to assault weapons?
I think there is a real difference between a weapon designed for hunting deer or ducks and weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in the least amount of time. One type of weapon makes sense, the other doesn’t.
Some may say that as a pastor I’m being too political. Let me respond by saying that I call for this debate and I advocate for a ban on assault weapons from a stance of faith. As a follower in the way of Jesus I believe that every life is sacred. I believe that each person is created in the image of God and that to take another human life is a sin. To make assault weapons readily accessible, whose primary purpose is to take human life, is a reflection of sin.
In memory of those lives lost, let the debate begin.