After the horrific shooting at the concert in Las Vegas the debate is raging once again about gun control in the USA. The statistics are frightening. It is estimated that there are something like 300 million privately owned guns in America. That's more than one per head of population. Presuming that most toddlers and young children don't own one (a foolish presumption I know!), then that is approaching two guns per person. Does this lead to more gun related deaths.
On the one side is the National Rifle Association. They champion the constitutional right to bear arms. I think that this right was instituted so that the imperial British forces could be repelled, not so that you could take pot shots at your fellow citizens. But a right is a right. The argument of the NRA is that the problem is not the guns in themselves, but rather a minority of the people who use them. So the answer to a "bad" person with a gun is to have a "good" person with a gun to shoot them.
On one level the NRA is right. The problem isn't the gun, it's just a lump of metal and plastic. It won't fire itself. It won't point itself at a person. Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
But the NRA is also fundamentally wrong. Because they have underestimated both the brokenness and wickedness of the human heart. The largest single category of gun deaths in the US is suicide. When people are at their lowest point, guns make it far easier for them to kill themselves.
The next largest category is domestic homicides. That's family members and partners shooting each other. You get into an argument with your husband or wife. Tempers get out of control, and before you know it you've opened the draw, taken out the gun and shot them. Whereas in the UK you might only have had the vase to throw at them!
It because of the human heart that we need laws to restrict gun ownership. The Bible tells us that there are no naturally "good" people out there. We all have the ability to murder someone else. We just need the circumstances and the means. As Jesus says:
He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
The nature of the human heart means that if more people own deadly weapons, then more people will be killed by them.