Regarding the mass murder in the Texas church, President Trump was correct: it was a good thing that somebody had a gun.
Somebody outside the church had a rifle. He knew how to use it. It will not cost $1 million for the local authorities to try and convict the murderer. There will be no life imprisonment without possibility of parole, and no overturning of that sentence by a parole board. The murderer was transferred to the Supreme Court. I am certain that he has been tried, convicted, and sentenced. There will be no appeal. There will be no parole.
Nevertheless. . . .
If every man in that church had been packing, fewer people would have died.
If every woman in that church had been packing, even fewer would have died.
It is common for most churches to have a greeter at the door. My church has two greeters at the door. If both of them were visibly packing a pistol next Sunday, I would feel relieved. Two greeters, two pistols. This would be consistent with what Jesus taught:
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough (Luke 22:35-38).
I would prefer new greeters. The replacements would be at least six feet two and weigh at least 220 pounds.
I know, I know: this would be regarded as radical. But at some point, if things continue as they have so far, this will not be considered radical.
There was a time in the American West when this was common. A good book on this is Ross Phares’ book, Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand: The Story of Frontier Religion (1971).
I suppose I’m getting ahead of the market. But if there are another 40 or 50 massacres in fundamentalist churches, attitudes may change.
Packing won’t ever be acceptable in theologically liberal churches. What they sow, they will reap. A policy of “no active resistance here” is not a good way to avoid terrorism. There is a fundamental strategy of crime prevention: make it more difficult for the criminal to commit his crime against you than somebody else. This is an application of the most fundamental law of economics: when the price increases, less is demanded.
I believe that it is a good policy for Bible-believing churches to adopt an at-the-door policy that visibly announces to terrorists: “You should visit a liberal church.”
“PEACE, PEACE, WHEN THERE IS NO PEACE”
A church is supposed to be a place of peace. Everybody agrees on that. A nation should also be a place of peace. Most people agree on that. But only pacifists believe that the state should be disarmed.
Why does anybody believe that the church should be disarmed? Why should the state have a monopoly on armed defense against criminals? Why don’t we believe in citizens’ arrest? We used to. We don’t anymore. Why does any God-fearing person not believe that it is legitimate for people to be armed?
In liberal political circles, the gun-abolition outlook of browbeaten Western Europe is common. Liberals want to make Americans as fearful about the state, and as unquestioning regarding state intervention in their lives, as citizens are in Western Europe. This outlook does not predominate in the United States with respect to political theory, but it is predominant in practice. Most people believe in the principle of the Second Amendment in the United States, but most people are rarely armed. Most people really believe that the state can defend them against terrorists. Americans have surrendered their liberty to the federal government since 2011 on this basis. That is why the massacre in Texas took place.
If we talk the talk, we should walk the walk. If we believe in an armed citizenry, we ought to be armed citizens. We should practice what we preach, but it is difficult for us to break with culture. Our culture is schizophrenic with respect to the general principle of an armed citizenry versus the actual arming of citizens.
Americans have always been armed. This goes back to the era of the American Revolution. The one American historian who wrote a book saying that this was not true during the American Revolution, and which won the most prestigious award in American academic history, the Bancroft prize, was a fraud. The author faked his evidence. He was fired by Emory University. The Bancroft prize was revoked, which was the first time this had ever happened. He sucked in the tenured academics, who had egg on their collective faces. He did not suck in non-university scholars who believed in the Second Amendment, and who smelled a rat when they read his book. They caught him red-handed. He initially had academic defenders, but they soon disappeared.
Being armed is an old American tradition. It needs to be revived.