Looking At Suffering From the Right Angle: More Thoughts on the Current Debates Surrounding the 2nd Amendment

The current narrative regarding the 2nd amendment in our nation is highly emotional and intensely irrational. No one on either side of the argument denies that the life of children or adults is precious. No one on either side of the argument denies that we should love our neighbors enough to protect them from all acts of violence. The argument lies in the manner in which we go about doing just that; demonstrating our love for others by protecting them from harm.

Why is the solution to amend the second amendment regarding guns rights incorrect? Because the underlying assumptions regarding that argument is built upon false premises. That is to say, the arguers are presupposing various truth statements that are patently false.

The first false premise is that the second amendment is in some way malleable. There are two problems with this assumption currently portrayed by some individuals; which we shall briefly discuss.

  • One, according to the constitution of the United States these rights are inalienable—i.e. cannot be surrendered. The founders of this nation, for all their faults, agreed seemingly universally that our rights as human beings do not come from government, but from a higher authority. Although, not all of these individuals were Christians, the overarching worldview at the time was predominantly based off of the Holy Bible. Therefore, these inalienable rights were concluded as being given by the Creator. What Creator? The One who is revealed in the bible starting in the book of Genesis. Regardless of the personal bias of some today, the historical context of the writing of the S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which were grounded upon a biblical worldview, determines the meaning. And not the convictions, which are so prevalent today that seek to deny the reality of such a deity.
  • Two, the second amendment has a defense mechanism placed within its language to prevent any change whatsoever when it comes to this right. Namely, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This means that no outside entity, whether it be the government or the people (regardless of the size of the mob) have not right to trespass, violate or impose some other standard regarding this right. The 2nd amendment is a protection clause for all people. This ability to protect oneself (i.e. right to bear arms) is nonnegotiable. Protect from whom? Historically, this protection was afforded to all from any form of threat; domestic or non. One of the fears of the founders, a fear which arose from a study of history, was that those in power (i.e. government) would seek to dominate and enslave the people within the nation under tyranny.

Now let us examine the second false premise regarding the current narrative in our nation to remove guns. Some may argue that there are only certain guns that need to be removed from people’s possession, but a brief study of history shows that this is false. Logically, if getting rid of one type of gun is effective, then why not remove them all? If the removal of some guns makes society safer, then doesn’t it follow that by riding society of all guns this is the safest possible solution available?

There’s a problem with such reasoning, however. Do you see it? That people are basically good. Guns are the problem and not people. Guns are wicked and not people. Remove guns and cities and streets will be safer. Public areas will have no need to fear, for the threat has been taken away. Or so, various ideologues would have us believe.

The general biblical worldview popular at the founding of this nation is quite the opposite. The assumption of the “right to be arms” presupposes that people are not basically good, but evil. If people are basically good, then why would anyone need to protect themselves? If the governmental authorities are benevolent, then why would anyone be concerned about an infringement of rights. The underlying foundation of the Bill of Rights is that those two assumptions are false. People are not basically good, but evil. Government is not benevolent, but greedy for power and control of its citizens.

If humans were basically good, then there would be no need for laws (ethical standards to guide our moral behavior). The existence of laws provides the basis for the argument that people are not basically good. This is not to say, that there are not law-abiding citizens. But there are logical reasons for even this. One person may abide by the law because they have an inner desire to do what is right (supposing of course that the Law is based on a solid foundation). Another, though, may only obey the law because the fear the discipline for breaking it.

Which begs the following question, “Why do people not fear breaking the law?” Answer: Because, discipline is not being administered in society. Laws, which are on the books are not being maintained and evil-doers are not being punished. Currently, there are many laws pertaining to guns, but those laws are not being faithfully enforced. Criminals are not being properly punished. Now, this is not the case in every situation. There are good judges and lawyers out there, who are truly concerned about upholding the law of the land, but sadly, because people are not basically good even they sometimes do what shouldn’t be done.

The biggest issue, however, concerning the current narrative is not the gun violence. Don’t get me wrong, those perpetrators, if found guilty in a court of law based on sufficient evidence, should be dully punished to the fullest extent of the law. The current narrative misses the reason for such acts of mayhem.

Instead of spending all of our time focusing on whether or not we should have guns, we should be looking at the deeper issue causing the violence. This past week I was reading a rather old book and the author made a point that bears repeating. Suffering happens for a reason. Suffering is important. Sometimes, suffering happens for a very good reason.

Such sentiments strike a nerve in human thought. We do not like to suffer. Our society has been ingrained with the notion that suffering is evil. Evil is probably not a word that our society would use, but evil is nonetheless appropriate.

In a way, this is understandable. No one likes pain. No one likes to suffer and endure trauma. But that doesn’t mean those things are bad. Break your leg and the pain will be severe, but the pain reminds you not to damage the leg further by walking on it. The trauma—that is the lasting memories of the ordeal—guide your steps more carefully; especially, if that trauma was caused by your own stupidity.

The question that needs to be asked regarding the gun violence is, “why?” The suffering, while tragic for those who have had to endure it personally, needs to be analyzed. Instead of responding to it emotionally as a people, we should be looking beyond the mere surface. What is the underlying root of the problem?

Regardless of how passionately you may feel about this topic, removing the guns with not address the true problem. Merely treating symptoms and not the cause of an ailment is not a good solution. The suffering and the trauma have been given for a reason…a very good reason. They are demonstrative of an illness that has permeated our society.

The problem is rather obvious. The soul of America is very sick. The problem is sin. People are sinners. It doesn’t matter how much our society denies it, the truth is all around us. The evidence that people are not basically good, that we are sinners, and we need a change of heart continues to pile up. As long as our society continues to deny the truth hanging in front of their noses, the worse things will get.

“But if we get rid of guns, that will solve the problem of all those mass killings! Don’t you care for children?” Oh yes, I do, very much so. But, even if you rid all people of their guns, and let’s be consistent here we need to remove guns from all governmental officials as well, people will just use some other tool for destruction. Knifes are just as effective for killing a large number of people.

We are suffering and experiencing trauma for a reason in this nation, and it is for our good. However, we will never see the truth of this if we do not humble ourselves before the One who created us. If we continue in rebellion against the One who died for the sinner’s sin—Jesus Christ—then, no hope will be afforded to us. God in His mercy is showing us our problem through a variety of venues.

Rather than blaming objects or any number of other things wrong in our society, we should rather start pointing the finger at our own hearts. Had that been in the case in the recent past, then such tragedies would be avoided. Changed hearts really changes things, not changing policy. Unless of course, that policy is being guided by the One who cares for others more than we do.  The point being, “We need to start looking at our suffering from the right angle.”