Gun Violence Isn’t Just A Sin Problem

Author: Kaitlyn Hamby

Kaitlyn Hamby is a rising senior at Florida State University studying Documentary Film and Business. She found her faith in Christ in high school, which inspired her to become a Younglife leader, bringing the gospel to high school students who would never find their way into a church. After the November 2014 shooting at FSU, Kaitlyn became involved in gun violence prevention work. She is a summer 2016 intern at the Sword of the Spirit: A Christian Conversation on Gun Violence.

While sin may be the source of the gun violence problem, we as Christians should talk about the manifestation of this sin. Not making an effort to discuss the sin of gun violence is a moral failure on our part.

I went to one of the best high schools in the nation. Many of my friends went on to Ivy League colleges. However, the prestige of my high school did not shield me from gun violence. Despite its esteemed standing, my high school was located between the two deadliest streets in Jacksonville, Florida. I cannot count the amount of times we went on lockdown because of the neighborhood’s violence. One time, during an Advanced Placement exam, a drive-by shooter’s bullet hit a student on campus, and we went into lockdown. Another time, during lacrosse practice, I had to run and hide from a gang shooting that had come onto our field. When I was a junior, a teacher at a neighboring school walked into the principal’s office, shot her and then committed suicide. I so vividly recall sitting in class, desperately waiting for text messages from friends saying they were safe.

When I went to college I thought everything would be better. Florida State University was a secure place. We were in a much safer neighborhood than I was in high school. That illusion shattered on November 20th, 2014 when a man walked into my university’s library and opened fire. My friend Ronny is permanently paralyzed from the waist down after being shot that night.

VIOLENCE AND THE GOSPEL

The violence I have seen and experienced has drawn me only closer to Jesus. He was never violent. He never once propagated violence, not even when he told his disciples to sell everything they own and buy swords; that was to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah and his followers would look like a band of rebels. He was a calm and peaceful presence in the midst of a brutal society. For me, his peace is an oasis in the desert of violence that I’ve experienced first hand. He saved people from violence, like the adulterous woman, and told stories encouraging others to remedy violent situations, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan.

If Jesus is our Lord and model, shouldn’t we avoid violence in any and every form as He did? Shouldn’t we also encourage others to avoid violence? Shouldn’t we be ready to discuss the various forms of violence in our own society?

GUNS: NOT JUST A SIN PROBLEM, NOT JUST A TOOL

People often object to discussing the role of guns in mass shootings and other gun-related murders because they believe this is a sin problem or a heart problem that only God can fix. Aren’t we as Christians charged with doing His work here on earth? We can pray for the victims of gun violence, and we should also discuss the greater issue. While sin may be the source of the gun violence problem, we as Christians should talk about the manifestation of this sin. Not making an effort to discuss the sin of gun violence is a moral failure on our part.

‘But guns are just tools,’ I’ve heard people say. Or, ‘Cain killed Abel with a rock. As long as there is sin in this world, humans will find ways to kill each other.’ That may be true, but how many people can be killed with the use of a rock? One, maybe two if the killer is fast enough, stealthy enough? The moment someone is given a tool that makes it easy to stand in one place and kill and injure hundreds of people in an instant, we as Christians should recognize that access to this tool is a problem. If guns are aiding in the destruction of life, we should be the first people to call that out. Our allegiance is to The Lord, and we should first and foremost be concerned with the protection of God-given life. If we are truly concerned with the sanctity of life, we should be prepared to discuss the ramifications of access to this tool.

Disclaimer: The author’s views are her own and not necessarily those of Rev. Rob Schenck or The Sword of the Spirit Ministry.