Reactions in the wake of the mass murder in Sutherland Springs, TX, have followed all-too-predictable lines as Americans attempt to blame inanimate “machines” for human evil. Two religious thinkers have joined the fray, arguing that Christians have a moral obligation to support gun control.
The first comes from the Roman Catholic Church, where San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy called gun control a “social justice issue” because “the problem of guns in our culture leads to so many deaths by guns.”
“One of the problems is the organized opposition to gun control, taking the position that any limitation against guns is a limitation on the core rights of individuals,” he said. “The notion that to restrict automatic and semi-automatic weapons is a restriction on personal rights that should be given to society, to me, seems unacceptable.”
The Bishop claimed that “the majority of gun owners” support “specific pieces of legislation” that would bring “sensible, targeted, and effective gun control,” but he failed to name the legislation he had in mind.
He may be referring to an “assault weapons ban,” which CNN and like-minded outlets claim enjoys “majority support from both parties.” Other, less-biased sources, however, have reached much different conclusions. A 2016 Gallup poll found that only 36 percent of Americans favor a ban on “assault rifles,” the lowest number ever recorded.
McElroy may also be referring to a variety of surveys that have indicated broad support for universal background checks, but these surveys do not differentiate between gun owners and non-gun owners. It also isn’t clear how effectively universal background checks would stop mass murders, considering the Texas shooter was able to acquire a firearm even though he should have been a prohibited person.
The second Christian to call for gun control published an op-ed in (of all places) the New York Times. A journalist named Richard Parker followed McElroy’s lead by blaming the “machine” for mass murders rather than the murderer.
Parker refers to AR-15s as “machines” no less than five times throughout the course of the article, arguing that we must “remove the killing machines that have put tens of thousands of Americans in their graves or hospital beds in this century.”
He says we must “confront these machines and the profiteering behind them” by stopping the “the proliferation of machines solely designed to kill large numbers of people quickly, machines that bear no more semblance to a rifle than a nuclear weapon does to a firework.”
Reading Parker’s article without knowledge of the incident, one might assume that firearms, rather than the shooter, are the real evil at play. In the end, Parker blames nearly everything for the shooting except the shooter himself, concluding that “God will never forgive us” if we let “the machines of war and profit win over faith.”