I promised a series of posts on gun violence, and so far I’ve only written two: one on the intersection of guns and whiteness and another on Christian responses to the Sandy Hook massacre. There will likely be more posts coming, as I’m still reading pretty extensively on gun ownership and gun violence in the U.S. A big part of why I haven’t written more, however, is that I find myself continuously circling back to what I see as the dark heart of gun ownership in the U.S.:
When people say they own a gun for “self-defense,” they are saying they are willing to kill another human being.
I honestly can’t imagine taking a human life. Fighting tooth and nail to protect myself or my family, and temporarily disabling an attacker? Sure. But taking another human life to preserve my own? Even if I or others might see that life as belonging to an “evil” or ill-willed person? That I cannot imagine.
It’s profoundly disturbing to me that others can imagine killing another human–so much so that they arm themselves and train to be ready for that moment.
And even if a gun owner claims she’s only going to “maim” an attacker. . . I suggest you look at Google images for “gunshot wound” and scroll past the Halloween make-up. How could anyone imagine inflicting that kind of pain on another human?
In the end, it’s this dark heart that makes it so difficult for me to write about this subject. Any data I might present, any cultural biases or logical inconsistencies I might try to highlight can’t pierce a darkness that dense.