Gun Control vs. Self-Control

Two days ago, an 18-year-old murdered nineteen children and three adults in Texas – just ten days after another 18-year-old shot thirteen people, ten fatally, in Buffalo, NY. The New York shooter was a known racist, while the Texas shooter had no record of violence and no known ideological agenda. But the two shared one chilling trait:

Madness.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 says, “There is a malevolence that infects the human race, and the same destiny awaits them all. For their hearts are full of evil — madness is in their hearts while they live, and then they die.” When we fail to find what we’re meant to live for, the festering madness Ecclesiastes speaks of can emerge, offering something to kill for.

Every time there’s a mass shooting, the gun-control debate is revived. “Guns kill!” “Guns don’t kill, people kill!” Versions of the latter will, no doubt, echo at the National Rifle Association convention in Texas tomorrow (just four hours’ drive away from the mass murder site). And while it’s true that no gun ever killed anyone without a human pulling the trigger, it’s also true that no human ever killed anyone by pointing their finger. Nevertheless, both statements are half-correct:

Guns kill.

And so do people.

Therefore, any real solution must address both issues.

Guns kill. The U. S. Constitution was written at a time when rural self-protection, hunting, and citizen’s militias were central to society. But the Founders clearly did not envision the culture—or weapons—of today. Will vastly improved gun control stop people from killing? No. But it will diminish it. And diminishing human chaos is the best any law can hope for.

People kill. It has always come down to Self vs. Other. Cain slew Able because Able had something Cain wanted. The highest moral codes have always striven to check this madness, to promote selflessness over selfishness. But when accession to moral codes erodes, anarchy ensues. When the ethics-driven Roman Republic became the power-driven Roman Empire, truth faded: Sports and arts devolved into spectacles in which human beings were raped, tortured and murdered for entertainment. The masses believed in everything, and the cognoscente believed in nothing.

“Madness is in our hearts.” Modern culture is undergoing a sea change like that of ancient Rome, only it’s happening far more quickly. Former civic values—duty to God, family, country and community—have become outmoded, replaced by duty to Self alone. Can the trend be reversed before we dissolve, like Rome did, into chaos?  I honestly don’t know. But I do know this:

For it to happen, families, schools and communities would have to recommit—deeply—to teaching civility, character and selflessness, to modelling not what to kill for…

But what to live for.

“Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do.”

~Ephesians 5:15

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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53 Responses to Gun Control vs. Self-Control

  1. Wynne Leon says:

    Absolutely beautifully written and such a great prescription for fixing our broken society and broken hearts. My dad who was a Presbyterian pastor used to say if our vertical relationship was in order, our horizontal relationships would also be. Thank you for this post which helps to make sense of the way forward, Mitch!

    Liked by 8 people

  2. bwcarey says:

    Mitch, you want the solution to this crisis , think of the theater these armaments were created for, i.e. the theater of war zone, and so apply their use to such areas at home, amen

    Like

  3. Powerful, Mitch, thank you for your sharing your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frank says:

    Excellent and thoughtful post. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ejstoo says:

    You are perpetuating a danagerous stereotype. Mental Illness does not cause murder. Developing hatred for self and others. Not understanding that all life is sacred and hating and fearing others. Mix liberally with weapons that everyone and his uncle can have and it is a recipe for disaster. People shouldn’t have guns. They were intended in the old days for protection and food. Now you buy your groceries or grow stuff. No one should be carrying guns…crooks etc have them. Police should be the only ones, but crooks get ahold of them. So, someone gets to hating and feeling entitled to kill. Not mental illness. Hate. Sometimes people with mental illness will develop that or hear voices. Mostly mentally ill need proper treatment. Do not make it about madness or mental illness. Call it by it’s name…hatred and fear and feeling unable to do anything about it. Then they have guns. Terrible disease hatred, anger, isolation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      The “madness” referred to in the book of Ecclesiastes is not mental illness, Jean, but moral-ethical collapse.

      Liked by 6 people

      • ejstoo says:

        Do you think they are different and do you think that they are not interpreted as such. Be careful, many seem to think they know what is meant by the words of the Higher Power and yet they will misinterpret to suit themselves. There is danger in that. Humans are not perfect.

        Like

      • mitchteemley says:

        Yes, I do think they are different, Jean. The word here is used for the entire human race, not mentally ill individuals. And the original Hebrew word it translates is always used in reference to the sinfulness of the human race.

        Like

  6. Sue Cass says:

    Gun controls only leave the innocent vulnerable to a Godless bunch. We’ve removed God from just about everything and nothing will change until God is back in the hearts of our society.

    Like

    • Ben Berwick says:

      Firstly, Mitch, great post. Secondly, Sue, I have to disagree. Other countries (including my own) have enacted various forms of gun control measures, and whilst they are not perfect measures, they have had the desired impact. Gun control works.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. A thoughtful post, Mitch. I believe that until this country comes together with the values that we originally held, solutions will be impossible. Our leadership has failed miserly. They maintain the hate-filled rhetoric that continues to divide our country. Neither side seems to understand how much the American public is suffering under their lack of cogent guidance.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. rwfrohlich says:

    Well said. We are in a rapid decline, destined to self destruct k

    Liked by 2 people

  9. SelmaMartin says:

    Ephesians quotes spectacular 💗
    All so true. I resonated very much with this:
    “Former civic values—duty to God, family, country and community—have become outmoded, replaced by duty to Self alone. Can the trend be reversed before we dissolve?”
    I sure hope so. We need to “see” ourselves in Community AND Community in us.
    We need to regroup and reassess our place in ‘the family of things’
    Thanks for sharing. Lovely. 👏

    Liked by 2 people

  10. rwfrohlich says:

    …pressed reply before I finished. We now watch rape, torture, and murder on big and small screens, privately wallowing in depravity. An unanchored mind sees this and lashes out with a gun at the apparent meaninglessness of life. Yet we know there is a sovereign God, who is bringing His purposes to a conclusion that will reveal His glory in the saving of undeserving sinners like me. Nations may fall, but Christ’s victory is certain.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pastorpete51 says:

    Nicely put Mitch. I am hearing you but have near zero faith that either side of the debate really listens. I think the greater question is what ever happened to the families? We don’t have more mental illness or even more guns than previous generations. Most of our dads all had guns in the basement on a wall rack but no one took them to school to shoot people. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights and heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tony Briley says:

      When I was in high school when someone got a new rifle for their birthday we’d go out at lunch and look at it. Most were kept on gun racks in their pickups, in the school parking lot. And several of the “country kids” kept a 22 pistol in their trunk since they had to take out a copperhead a couple of times a month when they’d get home from school. So there’s a lot of agreement from me on that point. However, unfortunately society has transitioned into some sort of madness that is our new normal, Google Karen videos and there are tens of thousands of examples readily available. However we got to this point can be debated, but the fact that we are here there is no debate at all. If a toddler hits another toddler with a stick we don’t give the other toddler a stick, or give all toddlers sticks, or let them whack other toddlers then give them some thoughts and prayers. Instead, we take the stick away. Then once they have matured enough they can play with sticks again. I’d love it if society could get to the way it used to be too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pastorpete51 says:

        Well said Tony. Let me rephrase my question as, “The unanswered question and problem that inly God can solve is about our families.” I am not at all opposed to making the type of weapons here harder to get (especially by an 18 year old). I am simply seeking God for answers on a deeper level as to the torn fabric of our community beginning with family. May God help us. Blessings my friend.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Tony Briley says:

        Completely agree with you and the question you asked. I hope my reply didn’t make it sound otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Mitch, thank you for stating what my heart feels and knows, yet I haven’t been able to put it in writing in my journal or on my blog. Every word you’ve written is filled with truth AND love. In 1991, I lost a nephew, not to a mass shooting, but to a mafia-style murder. He was a good person, husband, father, son, grandson, and friend. The man who killed him was a minister of the Word, so he said, a Boy Scout leader, with sons of his own. He perpetrated lies about my nephew with no basis for finding the truth. I still feel the loss today. My heart breaks as I hear of these children and their teachers, and so many others across our land, who died at the hands of another. I pray to God each day that this violence will end, and someday it will. I will be sharing your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well said my friend. The issue has many layers and focusing on just one isn’t going to solve the problem. We have to look at all the reasons.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. As always – well-thought-out and well-put, Mitch. I wish your words would go viral and people would listen and turn towards living rather than killing.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Mitch, while I commend you for your ability to redirect / temper your frustration, by drawing upon your faith, alas, the not so charitable, rabidly political, powers-that-be would wrongfully view such a stance as an exploitable weakness and, worse yet, deem this the perfect excuse to preserve the grotesque status quo.

    My blog, posted earlier today, clearly represents my own decades old exasperation re said status quo, YET, even this pales in comparison to my linked video featuring Cenk Uygur’s commentary.

    “Can the trend be reversed before we dissolve, like Rome did, into chaos?” you ask? BEFORE?
    What could possibly be more chaotic than the (so far) nearly 288 school related, mass murders that have gone down in 2022, alone?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well said, Mitch. I’m too sick at heart to comment further.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I do not have answers but we cannot do nothing and accept the kind of collateral damage. Our reality is worse than the outrageous Hunger Games fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Pingback: Reblog: Gun Control vs. Self-Control | Mitch Teemley | Life in the Slow Lane

  19. murisopsis says:

    I read this and thought of the recruiting motto that was started a few years back – “An army of one”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I remember visiting Texas in the 1970’s from Australia and being shocked at the sight of guns on the back of pickup trucks. I was in my twenties, and it was the first time in my life I’d seen a gun. Even our police back then didn’t have their guns on display – not even at police stations. They wear them holstered now. But it’s still rare for me to spot a gun, and I know no one who owns one in Australia. We had our dreadful Port Arthur massacre in 1996, and our Government took immediate action on gun control. Of course, criminals still manage to access them, and there are gun killings -but guns are not common amongst the general civilian population. America’s gun culture is so alien to us. Farmers need them, pest controllers need them – but as the NZ Prime Minister said this week, they don’t need military style semi automatics for that work. After the Christchurch massacre, NZ banned almost all of these type of weapons for the civilian population without a single dissenting vote. Did Australia and NZ succeed in their aim. Not totally, but we tried – and as a result our civilian general populations still don’t feel the need for guns in our homes. We sadly watch the never ending American gun debate and massacres. To us, it’s incomprehensible that you talk and talk and talk – but never do anything effective to turn your Wild West gun culture around and save innocent lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. #hood says:

    ecclastiates 34 & ephesians 5:40 o magnify the lord

    Like

  22. Like Travellingtherese said, we in Australia watch the never-ending talk with incomprehension. In trying to puzzle it out on another person’s post in the wake of this latest school killing, the best I could come up with was:
    “Looking from the outside, it appears that Americans are so firmly tied to their guns because of fear. The right to bear arms, which many colonists brought with them from their original countries (both the arms and the right) was necessary for survival, self-protection, and the common defense of the colony. This attitude continues to prevail. They believe their very survival depends on their ability to protect themselves and family against everyone else living in the country, and that they need to stand ready to protect the USA against any potential invader. It is a bit like the scaremongering of the Macarthy era, when people believed they saw Reds (Communists – not Republicans) under every bed.

    But as we said to a close friend of ours when we discovered him carrying a knife and he claimed it was for self-protection. If you carry it, you must be prepared to use it, and when you do that, you become the aggressor, the very person you claimed to be afraid of.”

    I don’t live in the States, and so am not in a position to have an informed opinion. I welcome yours and those of other commenters on here. Otherwise, all I can go by is my Aussie girlfriend who lives in Texas and who is frequently in tears over the normalizing of guns. The recent law changes in her State have seen her grow ever more desirous of returning to Australia, but finances and other commitments prevent that happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Gun Control vs. Self-Control – Uncoffined

  24. Harshi says:

    There is madness and there is madness!
    We do not know what lies behind the trigger in the mind that actually triggers the gun. It’s sad, it’s painful and definitely heart wrenching to see life being snuffed out like this.

    I do agree with you Mitch. I can also understand your angst.

    My thoughts are that why don’t we wipe out guns from the virtual world first. None of the video games should have ammunition. It does not build confidence. Instead it makes one weak in the real world and as said by Seneca – All cruelty springs from weakness.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Nancy Richy says:

    Mitch, thank you for using the word “murdered”; that’s exactly what this was. Premeditated murder. The murderer didn’t wake up that morning and say “Gee, I have nothing to do today. Think I’ll go kill a bunch of innocent babies. Won’t it be fun to see the utter terror in their tear-filled eyes and to listen to the screams of panicked parents outside the building who would claw their way inside if they could? Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do today but first, I think I’ll kill my grandma.” People say “Well, he was troubled.” To that I respond “Damn straight he was troubled!” Where are the parents, the families, the friends, the neighbors, ANYONE who saw ‘he was troubled” yet neither did nor said anything. How can an 18 year old (or younger) have access to weapons and build an arsenal in his bedroom or basement while mommy and daddy remain blissfully unaware. How is this possible? Let’s say the parents aren’t unaware but are too afraid of their own son to do anything about it. Again, how is this possible? How can anyone live with themselves knowing one word from them to someone in authority could have saved countless lives yet they remained deaf, dumb and blind? Yes, he was troubled. Tell that to the parents of the children who are murdered on a fairly regular basis; I don’t think they would wipe their tears and say “Oh, yes. I understand. now. It couldn’t be helped because he was troubled. Yes, that makes burying my baby so much easier.” HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Obviously neither you nor I have the answers as to why this happens; if we did, these atrocities wouldn’t be happening. I have a lot of questions about big businesses and our country’s leadership (of lack of). I question if there is any goodness in the hearts of most people in government. I have lost all faith in them. There is an incredible amount of evil on our doorstep and that angers, sickens and frightens me. I’m terrified for my grandchildren. There is no innocence any longer. There is nothing left to chance. Everything is planned, manufactured, created and spread to cause mass hysteria. How did we get to this point? I pray that God in his infinite wisdom will do exactly what Jesus did that day in the temple when he had his fill of corruption – He cleaned house!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      I understand that the mother of the killer in Texas was an out-of-control drug addict, and that he’d recently come to live with his grandmother. Disconnection from society, bitterness, and lack of parenting probably all played a role in his cracking. Why hadn’t someone sensed what was going on and taken some kind of action? I don’t know.

      Like

  26. herismeorg says:

    My heart is all choked up. I wrote letters to my reps and shared it for others to do the same. While not necessarily hopeless, I am at a loss as for what to do other than the next right thing in the next moment – inch by inch – until something tethering catches onto actual hope. Thank you for your truths and for holding space.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ann Coleman says:

    You have a way of getting to the heart of the matter, Mitch. Thank you for that. I get so tired of these killings and of the way too many people use them simply to further their political agenda. What is needed is for both sides to come together and find a common ground to address this issue. I agree we’ll never solve it completely, but we can sure lessen it, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. Children shouldn’t be murdered in school, or anywhere else. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Tony Briley says:

    Very well stated. My dad used to say the rights of one man end where the other man’s nose starts. Someone’s right to life and the pursuit of happiness is no less of a right than someone wanting to own a gun.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Well considered and beautifully written. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: Gun Control vs. Self-Control | Nelsapy

  31. lblooom says:

    A great example of religion being used for goodness and what is right. Thank you for this post

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Your post makes a lot of common sense, Mitch. I hope our lawmakers can find their common sense and agree on something that will improve the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. PaolaPioletti31 says:

    Yesss

    Liked by 1 person

  34. PaolaPioletti31 says:

    Sorry it went my answer without finishing: no guns, no violence….. too sad

    Liked by 1 person

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