• Dear Christians With Guns: Anastasia Basil tells it straight

    It keeps on happening and it looks like it will probably be business as usual. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun s a good guy with a gun” mentality just never ceases. Apparently the Constitution is magic and can’t be changed and applies to semi-automatic weapons. As this article reports:

    Over 7,000 children are hospitalized or killed due to gun violence every year, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics. An additional 3,000 children die from gun injuries before making it to the hospital, bringing the total number of injured or killed adolescents to 10,000 each year.

    Now if it were anything other than guns, people would be up in arms (no pun intended) about it. But guns have this magical appeal. There is also a very definite link between right-wing politics and gun ownership, which means there is a very definite link between Chrisitanity in the US and gun ownership. It is within this contest that Anastasia Basil, over at HuffPo has written a great article. I will quote some parts here, but please check it out.

    As citizens, you openly prize two things: Jesus and the Second Amendment. Your cries for more God and more guns ring from sea to shining sea. We hear you. Believe me. But here’s the thing: As an American citizen of equal value, I can’t let you claim this country as a gun-loving Christian nation. I live a life of moral decency, as I’m sure you do too. But I do it gunless. This makes me indisputably more Christ-like than you.

    In response, you will say I’m stifling your right to religion. Quite the opposite: I’m encouraging you to pick up your Bibles and live more in accordance with your religion. I’m asking you to choose between the right to bear arms and the right to quote Jesus. If you won’t give up your guns, then give up your identity as a Christian. Be disciples of Wayne LaPierre. Make your mantra “From My Cold, Dead Hands,” not “Turn the Other Cheek.”

    The idea that Christians can defend their gun-totingness is somewhat inexcusable form a biblical perspective, surely.

    Our scale of revulsion is off. When the thought of disarming citizens elicits vitriol, and when the cries for Second Amendment rights muffle the cries of grieving parents, America needs to reconsider its status as exceptional.

    Here’s an example of truly exceptional citizenry: In 1996 a gunman in Scotland opened fire, killing 16 elementary school children in their gymnasium. It took the UK less than two years to ban all civilian handguns. There has not been a school shooting since. And to those who say a madman will find a way to arm himself, maybe you’re right, but the 7-year-old boy who was accidentally shot by his father one week after Sandy Hook would still be alive today if civilians couldn’t own guns. I mention this particular child instead of the 194 children who were shot and killed in 2013, just because. I mean, we certainly don’t have time for week-long CNN tributes for each and every one of those dead children. There would be, like, zero time to cover celebrity weddings if we did that.

    The stats and approaches from different global nations is startling. What s even more startling is the US’s inability to do anything about it, stunned into paralysis by political polemics. Basil continues:

    Personally, I would love to stifle your right to the Second Amendment. Even more, I would love to see you do it yourself in honor of the dead children, because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a madman or a “responsible” gun owner who pulls the trigger; guns do the one and only thing guns are designed to do: shoot bullets that kill. It’s not like you can use a gun to whittle a wooden spoon or slice a carrot, or use the sterilized tip to drain a nasty blister on a camping trip.

     I posted a few comments on the piece which amounted to:

    It just seems that those defending gun use and seeing the constitution as some magical text which cannot be amended (any more) are hiding thinly veiled cognitive dissonance. “I like guns, and want to continue liking them, so I will post hoc rationalise their greatness!”

    I would suggest getting over that, and making a braver move of, say, changing your minds? Why is it so bleeding hard for people to change their minds on things? A little Jonathan Haidt wouldn’t go amiss.

    Whether it be within different US States, or whether it be around the world, like here in the UK, fewer guns means fewer gun crimes.

    That part of the constitution is simply out of date or misapplied to modern guns. Deal with it.


    I think the problem is twofold. First, there is the acceptance of the evidence, which seems overwhelming. Secondly, there is the question of what to do about it, as mentioned.

    The first issue is made particularly hard since we know that, psychologically, if one is presented with rational evidence and argument against one’s position, then it is more likely that one becomes entrenched in their original view.

    I wrote a piece up to describe this common phenomenon – Post hoc rationalisation – reasoning our intuition and changing our minds (https://skepticink.com/tippling/2013/11/14/post-hoc-rationalisation-reasoning-our-intuition-and-changing-our-minds/).

    Part of what I do as a philosopher and author is public talks, and I always preface talks which have people on the other side of the fence (eg theists) with the idea that I am pointlessly presenting them solid rational evidence, because it will not change their minds, but rather solidify their own beliefs in the face of such evidence. Such difficult minds we all have.

    How do you change the psyche of a nation? My guess is you need to get people who are ‘onside’ to do it. Doesn’t Haidt talk about elephants moving alongside other elephants and nudging them? In this way you need a respected, say, right-winger; somebody famous, who NRA types love, to come out and say, “Yeah, I think gun control is a good thing – we need to start changing our approach.”

    If it comes from die-hard liberals, chances are it won’t work.



    Category: Politics


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce