To borrow a line from Spider-Man:
With great freedom comes great responsibility.
But what do you do when some people show that they can not or will not be responsible with the freedom given to them?
That's a tough question and not one I see an easy answer for.
Where do you draw the line between freedom and security? Because, see, I'm all for freedom. Seriously. I believe in it. And I want my own freedom, although you might not be able to tell considering I have three kids. And that's kind of the point, kids bring a responsibility that contain an inherent restriction to Freedom. It's part of the package, and, if you're not ready to give up Freedom for Responsibility, you have no business having kids.
And some of you might be saying, "Yes, but I don't have kids, so why can't I have complete Freedom?" And that is a good question. Honestly, as long as your expression of Freedom doesn't interfere with someone else's expression of Freedom, theoretically, there should be no reason you shouldn't have complete Freedom.
But let's look at that for a moment...
Your expression of Freedom shouldn't and cannot interfere with the Freedom of others. That means your Freedom cannot harm other people. And you might be thinking, "Well, that's just not fair." But is it fair when your Freedom of driving as fast as you want to drive causes an accident that kills someone else? Is it fair when your Freedom to take whatever you want causes someone else not to be able to eat or not to be able to feed his kids? Is it fair when your Freedom to smoke cigarettes results in health issues for other people? Sorry, it's not fair, and these are examples of why we have laws that govern freedom. To help us know where the exercising of our Freedom can cause harm to other people.
And, so, some of you may be thinking "what does this have to do with my Freedom (and Right) to own guns?" And that, also, would be a good question.
I'm gonna sort of change the subject for just a moment but not really. It will only look like it. I just want to start at a different place and bring us back to the same spot. The same question, so to speak.
Jesus came to set us free. I know this because He said it. Most people think this means He came to set us free from sin, that he came so that we could more perfectly follow the Law, but that's not what He said. I'm not going to break down all of the scriptural passages at this point, because it would take too long, so to sum it up, Jesus replaced the Law with Grace. He gave us Freedom, the same kind of Freedom that existed in the Garden before Adam ate of the fruit and introduced the Law (by gaining the knowledge of Good and Evil). [Yeah, I know this is a bit deep and metaphysical, but hang with me for a few minutes.] Basically, what Jesus was saying was, "Look, you can't really do all of this stuff. It's crazy to think that you can, and the Pharisees are crazy for thinking they can. What you really need to do is love God and love people, and, if you do those things, you'll be okay." Basically, forget the Law.
Okay, so we're in a state of complete Freedom at that point. We can (kind of) do whatever we want. Some of the early Christians really went with this, too. There was a movement that Right and Wrong no longer existed and anyone could do whatever s/he wanted to do. The problem was, evidently, these people didn't care whom they hurt in the process. Freedom was their Right and by God they were going to exercise that Freedom.
Paul came along and clarified some things at that point and said, basically, "Sure, in theory, you guys are correct, you can do whatever you want to do, but you shouldn't. You still need to respect other people, because, if you don't respect other people, you aren't showing them love, and Jesus said to love them just like you love yourselves." Even Peter had a problem with all of this stuff, because he realized (with God's help) that he didn't have to follow all of the Jewish dietary restrictions; he could eat just like the gentiles. And, boy, did he go hog wild (pun intended) with it. The problem was that he started bragging about it, and some of the Jews that didn't believe the way he did started having issues with the whole thing.
Paul had to step in there, too, and slap some sense into Peter: "Look, Dude, you know it's okay to eat pig, and I know it's okay to eat pig, but all these other guys... they don't know that, yet. What you're doing is messing them up and making them do things they believe are wrong. You're hurting them." Essentially, what Paul was saying is that eating pig for these other guys was wrong because they believed it was wrong.
And this... this is a really sticky issue, the difference between what is right and what is wrong, and it's why there is such a huge divide in the USA, right now. Some people, a lot of people, still believe that eating the metaphoric pig is WRONG. But that's actually beside the point.
Because the real point is this, and this is where we go back to those other questions I was asking up above:
Paul said that the way to deal with this issue of how to behave when you believe that something is okay but someone else does not is not to do it. If what you want to do, even if you believe it's completely okay and right to do, is going to hurt someone else because they believe it's wrong, you should give up your Freedom to do that thing by taking up the Responsibility to act in a loving manner to that other person so that other person will not be tempted to do something s/he believes is wrong.
In the pig example, a lot of the Christian Jews started eating piggies because they saw Peter doing it, but they all believed it was wrong, that it was a sin, so they were wracked with guilt over it. The point is that, for them, it was wrong to do because they believed it was wrong to do (and I'm gonna stay away from anymore of the relativity of good and evil in this post). Peter needed to stop eating pork (at least when he was with other Hebrews) and quit bragging about it so that he wouldn't cause his fellow Jews to stumble over their own beliefs. We're not all at the same spot in the journey.
Do I think you should have the Freedom to own a gun? Sure. Do I think you should have the Freedom to own any kind of gun you want to own? Sure. I believe those things as long as you are going to be responsible in your Freedom to not hurt other people. To not take away their Freedom with your Freedom (because none of us have that Freedom, especially the freedom to end a life).
The problem here is that too many people in our society currently cannot use their freedom to own a gun responsibly. Too many people are being caused to stumble and do wrong because they have the freedom to own a gun. Too many people are taking away other people's freedom by doing them harm. Clearly, these people are just like the Jews that saw Peter eating pork and ate it too even though they believed it was wrong. To keep these people from doing the wrong thing, according to Paul, we should willingly lay aside our freedom so that they will not do what is wrong. We should choose Responsibility over Freedom.
And that's kind of where I come down on this whole gun thing at this point. I look at my kids and I wonder which is the higher Freedom: your freedom to own a gun or my kids' freedom to live. I look at all the kids and wonder that. What was the higher Freedom, the lives of 20 kids (and half a dozen adults) or the Right (Freedom) of one person to own some assault weapons? I ask that question all the time. What is my Freedom worth?
I have to tell you, I have laid aside an awful lot of Freedom for the sake of my children. I have laid aside an awful lot of Freedom for the sake of other people's children. I don't have a problem with this. I get that some of you do, but I have to wonder if you're looking at the issue from the correct standpoint. If my Freedom is going to cause someone else to screw up, I need to go to the higher place of Love and abandon my Freedom. Why? Love God and love people. If I'm willing to sacrifice other people so that I can get to do whatever it is I want to do that certainly isn't Love. If I'm willing to sacrifice your children or, even, my own children, so that I can live the way I want to live, that certainly isn't Love.
And, you know what, that extends to owning firearms. If other people cannot act responsibly within their Freedom to own a gun, then we all should be willing to lay aside that freedom so that those other people will not screw up. Just like we have to sacrifice the freedom of driving as fast as we want to drive to prevent accidents and just like we have to sacrifice the freedom of taking whatever we want because it harms someone else and just like... well, I could go on and on.
Is your freedom to own a gun worth the life of someone else? Just one life? Is it? Really? I see some of you out there right now saying, "Yes, it is." Well, whose life is it going to be? My kid's? Your kid's? Your brother's or your mother's? Is it worth it now? If you're out there and you're willing to sacrifice the life of someone dear to you just so that you can own a gun, let me know. Because it may not actually be someone dear to you, but it's going to be someone dear to someone else, and, tell me, is that fair? Is it?