[Photo by Jerry Newcombe of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida] Before my wife-to-be left her native Norway in the late 1970s to earn a master’s degree at Billy Graham’s alma mater, Wheaton, a friend of hers gave a gift—a knife. He said she’ll need it for protection—after all she was going to Chicago. Thankfully, she’s never needed it.
Chicago has had a violent reputation at least since the days of Al Capone. When I grew up in the Chicago area, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 was one of the worst episodes in a violent city.
Yet most of the victims in the first Valentine’s Day Massacre were members of a rival gang. This was Prohibition gang warfare writ large.
In the recent St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in the Ft. Lauderdale area, there were ten more victims than in the famous shooting of 1929. And they weren’t rival gang members—they were innocent teenagers or instructors at high school.
Many people, including grieving students, are understandably demanding a stop to this. A natural solution, or so it would seem, is to ban guns. Certainly, some common sense steps should be implemented. How in the world did Nikolas Cruz, the alleged school shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School, pass whatever test was necessary to legally buy an AR-15? But he did.
This tragedy is compounded when we consider the major alleged failures of law enforcement in this case. The FBI was warned about Cruz on a couple of occasions. Local law enforcement checked up on Cruz after complaints about him some 39 times. There was the armed deputy assigned to the school, who apparently waited outside the building while shots were being fired inside. The whole shooting reportedly lasted a total of six minutes.
The thing about gun control laws is that they can work to disarm the law-abiding. Strict gun control laws, like those in Chicago, only insure that the only people with guns are the bad guys. Laws on the books don’t keep the criminals from getting and using guns. They only stop the law-abiding citizens from access to guns.
Which city is safer? Geneva, Switzerland, where virtually every household has a gun which they received in doing military service for their country in their youth, or Chicago, where the good guys can’t legally own a gun?
The Bible teaches that we are not to murder. It also teaches that there’s a time and a place for everything under the sun. Sometimes, that includes having to defend oneself.
Sometimes I hear people talking about the Second Amendment in terms of hunting. Hunting Shmunting. The Second Amendment is in reference to self-defense. It’s also in reference to ensuring our rights as citizens.
The Second Amendment was about we the people protecting ourselves, codified by those who had just been forced to fight a war against their own government.
History teaches us that an unarmed people can be mistreated. I am about to give an extreme example. It’s always extreme when you mention the Nazis.
Nevertheless, a few years ago I interviewed Stephen Halbrook, author of Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and Enemies of the State. He told me that just prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany: “The Weimar Republic did two things that really made it much easier for the Nazis to consolidate power. One of those things was to pass a law that would allow the executive branch to rule by decree in so-called emergencies. And the other thing was to pass licensing and registration requirements applicable to gun owners, so that they knew who the gun-owners were—at least the ones who were legal, who volunteered to register.”
Halbrook goes on to say, “In fact, the Weimar officials even warned, ‘Do not let these records fall into the wrong hands—the hands of radical elements.’ And that was in 1931; and, of course, in 1933, the radical elements took power. And they immediately used those registration records to confiscate guns.”
After World War II, an American asked his Japanese counterpart why they never invaded our west coast. The Japanese replied, “We knew that probably every second home in your country contained firearms. We knew that your country actually had state championships for private citizens shooting military rifles. We were not fools to set foot in such quicksand.”
There is clearly a violence problem in the country, and nobody wants to see another school shooting. But we also know that disarming people can result in terrible consequences too. Can anything be done?
In a recent column, Dr. Michael Brown asked a good question: “if more comprehensive background checks could keep guns out of the wrong people’s hands, would you be willing to wait a few more days to accommodate this?”