The tragic shooting in Aurora, CO precipitated predictable responses. Those who have long been in favor of limiting access to firearms returned their arguments to public attention, and those wanting to protect access resumed their defense of the 2nd Amendment. In this debate, conservative Christians typically align themselves with the “defend freedom” rhetoric of those defending open access to guns instead of with the “protect life” rhetoric of those wanting to limit that access. I find this a peculiar irony.
Regardless of the truth or falsehood of the refrain “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” the fact is that people are still getting killed. Would not logic suggest that those who in every other way bill themselves as ‘pro-life’ would be taking the lead in finding ways to reduce the the numbers of those getting killed, whether by guns or people wielding guns?
I am not proposing that the answer to any of this is stricter gun control legislation, although I’m willing to entertain arguments that suggest that. What I am puzzling over is how the abstract idea of ‘freedom’, an obscure notion in Scripture, became something which animates Christians more than that of preserving life, for which we have a commandment. No doubt Old Testament homeowners chafed under the legal demand for a parapet as an infringement upon their freedom. But the “pro-life” link would be clear to them.
As David Brooks wisely noted in his NY Times column, legislation is not the answer to something as tragic as what happened in Aurora. But in the bigger argument over the relationship between “rights” and “life” I question the pro-life consistency when Christians automatically elevate the former over the latter.