Conservatives who say we don't have a gun problem are missing an opportunity to lead.
Recent anti-gun remarks from Bob Costas have conservatives up in arms about their arms, and rightfully so. I don’t appreciate a sportscaster — even a thoughtful, well-loved one like Costas – to interrupt my happy football time with a political rant. I’d like to think I’d be similarly irked had Costas’ commentary reflected the opposite position.
Folks love their guns. I understand that. I love my guns, too. And while I’ve expressed concerns about the availability of certain high-powered firearms, I do consider myself to be solid on the Second Amendment.
But, to quote Eddie Izzard (yes, I’m serious), “Guns don’t kill people, people do … but, I think the gun helps.”
Recent US Census data shows us how guns have “helped” in roughly 2/3rds of homicides, with stabbing in a distant second place at 13%. This is something that rational, life-loving people cannot ignore and must address.
At the expense of liberty? Certainly not. But when our Founders cited our unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence, life preceded liberty.
Likewise, our priorities should fall in step with this thoughtful order.
Taking on issues in government typically translates to more legislation or regulation, and big government solutions seldom address the root of the problem at hand or result in true progress (which is why I’ve always found the label “progressive” to be disingenuous). But leaders can lead without legislating, and unfortunately, just as liberals are prone to take the easy route by passing more and more ineffective law, conservatives often lazily mention the Constitution and then sweep aside the tough issues.
In a broken world full of fallible people, pointing to the Constitution is no more effective than the parent who consistently tells their child, “Because I said so.” You may temporarily alter behavior, but you haven’t addressed its underlying cause … so don’t be surprised when the issues resurface.
Do I have the answers to our country’s gun problem? Of course, not. But we do, indeed, have a problem. True progress on matters such as these requires great effort — and yes, funding. Just as encouraging exercise and nutritional education has proven to be instrumental in warding off obesity and countless other health problems, more support for strategic efforts to deter gun violence — such as Project Safe Neighborhoods — as well as coordinated local efforts, are key.
As we prepare to slash budgets — an activity for which I salivate in anticipation — I pray we resist urges to refer to such programs as “wasteful spending.”
And let’s also think beyond what we can do collectively, and consider individual opportunities to affect lives. Mentoring programs, inner-city ministry, keeping a close eye on our friends and neighbors in times of emotional or mental distress – they’re all good places to start.
These may be thankless efforts, void of the accolades and pageantry that surround the signing of a gargantuan crime bill, and the fruits of which may not be immediately recognized, but if we as conservatives are to follow the direction of our Founders – and of our God — they’re paramount.
Thanks for reading.