The Oxford school shooting where the parents of the shooter enabled their son’s actions is a tragedy. Surely, this event raises an important question for all of us. Likewise, when the jury returned a guilty verdict for the three men who chased, and eventually killed Ahmaud Arbery, it raised the same question. “If lots of ordinary citizens have guns, does it make us all safer?”
Whoever buys a weapon for personal protection ought to ask themselves, “Am I prepared to kill someone?” Clearly, those three now guilty men were incensed because there had been robberies in their neighborhood. If that happened here, it would make me mad! The shooter evidently thought he was upholding justice. He, his father, and the neighbor thought they had the bad guy. But it was foolishness to go after Mr. Arbery with a shotgun, like a hunter. Consider this- If they had sat down and considered the situation cooly, would they have decided to kill him? That would be irrational.
That is the problem. Hot emotions plus guns equal disaster. Officers who carry a deadly weapon are trained to use it only under carefully defined conditions. They are to evaluate a situation rationally. They are warned to avoid letting emotions shape their actions. Using a gun is a last resort. Situations where a gun is fired are investigated to see if the action was consistent with proper procedure.
I don’t want to own a hand gun, even for target shooting, because it is designed to kill or maim. And I know that in the extreme, something could happen to make me mad enough that “I would like to kill that SOB.” I have that capacity, just as most of you readers do. I don’t want to ever be in a spot where my better judgment is overcome by my self-righteous “madness,” and have a weapon on hand to execute that feeling. I have met prisoners who let go of their better judgment and killed someone. They often say, “I made a mistake.”
It appears that a sort of “madness” motivated the three men who were convinced Ahmaud Arbery was some kind of threat. They exercised the death penalty on him since they thought he was a criminal. That is what vigilante law enforcement brings about. Likewise, the young man in Oxford school was motivated by strong emotions.
So what can we expect if more and more citizens are walking around with guns, as some gun advocates envision? Our community becomes a dangerous place. I don’t want to be one of those people with a gun. We will be a better society when few people carry guns, and those who do are well trained to keep their cool. It makes me mad that we are not there yet.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Luke 6:37 NIV
( This item first appeared in the Ludington Daily News, Dec. 9, 2021 )