Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spiritually confused

I heard a man testify today that he feels naked when he goes to church because he can't bring his gun there.

It's called being in the presence of God.

I heard a man describe a simulation he had carried out to prove that concealed handgun licensees were effective 100% of the time in preventing campus shootings, and security guards weren't effective at all.

It's nice to know that you can design an experiment to prove your pre-determined beliefs.

I heard a young woman fiercely describe her "God-given" right to defend herself with a gun and assert it in terms that easily lapsed into self-parody.

I sure wouldn't want to run into you on a dark street at night. Oh, and I've said it before, but describing violent self-defense as a God-given right is the clearest example of blasphemy that I've ever heard.

I heard a young man say that *I* am suppressing the free expression of ideas by arguing against guns in classrooms.

A gun is not an idea. You can come to my class and argue for gun rights all you want. Bring a gun to my class and I will personally see you expelled.

And so it went for nearly five solid hours. Arguments both for and against campus concealed carry were made before the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. I said my piece and it went well. John Woods, whose girlfriend was killed at Virginia Tech, gave an amazing speech. Articulate people from colleges, schools and police forces spoke against the four bills under consideration, as did three survivors of the 1966 shootings on the University of Texas campus that are the unfortunate archetype for all subsequent such events.

What I mostly felt during the testimony, though, was a constant low-grade horror at the mentality of so many of my fellow citizens. Not because the people who testified for campus concealed carry were fools, but because so many of them were not. A lot of them, I have to say, appear to be good people who honestly think that they need to carry a gun everywhere they go to be safe, and that everybody else does as well.

And here's the sad truth: A society in which a few extremists hold that view is par for the course. A society in which good and decent people hold it is sick unto death spiritually.

I hope against hope that what I saw today in a Texas hearing room is not typical of my state, let alone of the country. Recent news stories suggest that despite escalating gun sales, fewer and fewer people actually own guns, and violent crime is on the decline. After hearing that testimony all afternoon, though, I am very confused spiritually. I have rarely felt so certain that I was speaking for the side of the angels, and I have rarely felt so appalled at the arguments used by the other side: appalled not so much by the arguments themselves but at the casual ease with which they are assumed to be unanswerable.

Nevertheless, they can be answered. The inability to think outside of the box of violent self-defense is a sickness, and it cannot possibly be cured by more and more guns. The only way to deal with it is by removing the cause, and that cause is the ridiculous availability of deadly firepower in this country. Reasonable restrictions need to be adopted, because there is no other solution. I made that case today as best I could, by speaking up for the culture of the academic world to which I have dedicated my life, and to which campus concealed carry poses an unimaginable threat. I will keep making it in as many ways as I can, because my conscience will accuse me if I do not, and then I will have no answer to make.


  1. "I heard a young woman fiercely describe her "God-given" right to defend herself with a gun . . . "

    Cite, please. Last time I looked at a bible (admittedly a long time ago), there were no references to gun ownership. None.

  2. The Gospels. Start at the beginning and read to the end. If you think Jesus would have approved of violent self-defense, you're reading a different book than I am.

  3. Of course, I think the term "God-given right" is being used in a non-Biblical sense. It is casually adopted from language that is broadly used about our other rights, and then unthinkingly applied to gun rights as well. It's casual blasphemy, but blasphemy nonetheless.