Reflections from a gun owner.
I’m not going to write a post with my opinions about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary last week. There are plenty of opinions floating around the blogoshpere, and adding another page of digital drivel isn’t going to do anyone any good. The last thing I want to do is to provide my own theological reasoning for the events, as if that would somehow make sense of what happened or console those affected. So, to that end, I will not post my thoughts on why or how or what we should do next. As a gun owner, however, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what this means for me. I’ve owned several assault rifles, among many other types of firearms, ever since I’ve been legally allowed to. I’ve had many “AR-15” and AK-47 type weapons, some of which I still own today. In my home right now is a Bushmaster “M4” style rifle, very similar to those used in many of the shootings happening in an alarming rate all across the nation. I’ve been asking myself this question: “Why do I own these?”. I can’t hardly pretend that I need such high powered rifles to defend my home. I don’t have very much time for recreational shooting like I did when I was younger, and even if I did I would be doing so with my children, who I would not let use such heavy firepower. I don’t hunt. I’m not going to war. What good could possibly come from my possession of such weapons? None. If there is no practical purpose for my ownership of such weapons, then it is time for them to go.
This is not my attempt to weigh in on whether or not we, as a nation, should be reaching for reform in our gun laws. If you know me at all, you know that I never look to legislature for answers. This is much more personal than that. I am a gun owner. After today, I will still be a gun owner. But the practicality of some of the weapons currently in my possession is non-existent. Many people are rallying on both sides of the gun debate, and whether or not we should be allowed to carry assault rifles, but I’m more concerned with the question, “Why would I want to?”. I understand that I have the right to own such a weapon, but I can’t think of a single practical reason to have something so powerful and so deadly in my possession – especially with 3 small children in my house and another on the way.
I really spent a lot of time thinking this through and praying about how I ought to react as a gun owner, and what I have come up with is this: the right to keep and bear arms is practical. The want for Americans to be able to defend their homes with firearms is also practical. Me thinking that I need several pistols and high powered rifles to defend my home is impractical. If I remove all high powered rifles from my home, I will still be able to defend it, with deadly force if necessary, with the other, smaller caliber weapons that I own. So, if I can sufficiently defend my home with more practical weapons, I need to look for other excuses to keep such high powered rifles in my possession.
Hunting? No. War? I certainly hope not. Hmm…what else could I possibly need .223 or 5.45×39 assault rifles for?
This brings me to recreational shooting. This is the primary reason that I own such weapons. Since I was old enough to buy assault rifles, I did so so that I could shoot them recreationally. That seems fair enough, right? Sure, but not necessary or practical. When I was younger and had no children, it might have made much more sense to have owned the several AK or AR type weapons that I have owned and currently own. There are several reasons for this. First, when I didn’t have so many children to care for, I was much more willing and able to drop ridiculous amounts of money on guns, accessories and ammo. Having very cool, new guns in high calibers with plenty of nifty accessories was much more important to me at the time than the practicality of the expense. Now, I have to think about the expense of my home and family before all else, which makes spending money on such weapons and the high priced ammo required to actually shoot them a little more difficult to do. I’m generally much more content spending a day at the range going through a box of much more affordable .22LR, even if that means I’m shooting something that commands a little less attention from the other shooters at the range and doesn’t give me the same sense of power that once seemed so important.
On top of the impracticality of the expense of actually shooting such weapons, I also do not have very much time to shoot because my life is so much more busy, with a wife, three children, and another on the way. If I can’t find the time to shoot such expensive weapons, then what is the point of leaving them sit on the shelf? Now, one day I would love to teach my children to shoot so that it could be something that we could all enjoy together, but would that necessitate such high powered weapons? Hardly. I am a gun owner. Always will be. I shoot recreationally, and I certainly hope that I can enjoy that with my children someday, but I don’t much care for the thought of taking my children out to the range and handing them assault rifles. I feel that we will be able to enjoy our time at the range much more using much more practical weapons. In fact, I’m thinking that in a few years I will get my son a 10/22 or something similar that we can plink around with. I think that we could find plenty of recreation time customizing such a weapon and taking it out to the range, spending the day plinking around at targets while not having to sell off my other children to be able to afford the ammo. That seems plenty practical to me.
As does defending my home with a 9mm handgun rather than a weapon designed for the battlefield.
If, then, I have deduced that I can meet all of my firearm needs and wants in much more practical ways, and that owning such assault rifles is actually impractical and unnecessary in every conceivable way, what would keep me from getting rid of them? After all, if they serve no practical purpose, they are nothing more than possessions. They have no eternal value. Nothing more than worthless pieces of metal and plastic with expensive accessories or attractive polished wood furniture attached.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. -Luke 12:33
So, after much thought and prayer regarding my own gun ownership, I have decided to sell off my remaining assault rifles. There simply is no need for them.