I have to admit that as an Englishman I find the issue of firearm ownership in the U.S. baffling. All this talk of Amendments and having gun ownership enshrined in ‘rights’ is mysterious to me. But I think the strangest phenomenon is pro-lifer’s arguing for gun ownership.
I made the fatal mistake towards the end of last year of agreeing with this Tweet by Piers Morgan:
I'd ban ALL guns for convicted criminals and ANYONE with ANY mental health history whatsoever.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 14, 2012
Morgan said this after the Sandy school massacre and I blogged:
Putting my cards on the table; mentally ill folk should not be allowed to own guns. I’m mentally ill, and am no danger to anybody, with or without a gun, but I still should not be legally allowed to own one, for the simple fact that I am mentally ill.
Does that mean I believe that all mentally ill folk are potentially mass killers, no it doesn’t. My main concern with the mentally unstable having easy access to guns, is to do with the ease of dispatching oneself into eternity.
That’s my opinion.
The recriminations for these comments rumbled on from Boxing day, right through to New Year’s Eve. I was called a bigot and accused of having a fondness of stigmatizing the mentally ill. Folk told me they hoped my God could forgive me for such comments.
On reflection, I wish that I’d made it clear I was referring to folk that are mentally ill (present tense) as one of the criticisms leveled against me was that people do recover. Also, I admit I was gripped with anger at folk blaming the massacre either on godlessness, or some other crackpot theory.
But then again, we can only comment on issues from our own frame of reference, and I know, that as someone with a lifelong chronic mental illness, and given my symptoms, I should never be allowed anywhere near firearms. Personally, I only know one instance of a mentally ill person owning a gun, and she put a bullet through her hand in a fit of depression.
I could have said this in my defense, but decided not to, for the simple reason that in reality, I don’t think folk should bear arms.
I know one person here in the UK who legally owns firearms and he has what can only be described as an armory, and you know what, the worst thing is, he is a Christian with a very scary eschatology and owns his guns for the ‘end times’.
I want to say though, that I accept the U.S. has different ‘gun culture’ to us in the UK, where even most of our police are not armed.
Having said all of this, I must admit I’m with Christian in being somewhat surprised that 73% of Evangelical leaders support stricter gun laws, I especially appreciated his concluding comment:
Finally… evangelicals who believe being pro-life extends beyond the abortion debate.