Because the thunderous applause that greeted this testimony made clear, gun tradition is essentially Christian tradition. To think about your self as a Good Man With a Gun, as Mr. Willeford invited N.R.A. members to do, could encourage action-movie day desires, however it’s finally a spiritual imaginative and prescient of a world wherein good and evil are at warfare, the place God and firepower make all of the distinction.
The Good Man With a Gun is a spiritual delusion so highly effective it has begun to remodel the custom that bore it. When Consultant Lauren Boebert lately quipped, “Quite a lot of the little Twitter trolls, they wish to say ‘Oh, Jesus didn’t want an AR-15. What number of AR-15s do you suppose Jesus would have had?’ Nicely, he didn’t have sufficient to maintain his authorities from killing him,” it was a joke meant to deride and dismiss fees of hypocrisy towards followers of a person generally known as the Prince of Peace arming themselves to the hilt. But it was additionally a view into an enchanting spiritual growth presently underway, one formed by an understanding that bullets might have prevented the sacrifice on the coronary heart of the Christian religion.
It might be a mistake to color the connection between firearms and religiosity with too broad a brush. The evangelical affect on the sale, use and advertising of firearms in the US doesn’t imply Christianity is at fault for the current spate of shootings. In any case, in Buffalo, in Uvalde, in Tulsa, and this month at a church supper in Vestavia Hills, Ala., Christians have been among the many victims. Christian clergy members have rushed to each scene to consolation the survivors. Pals and households have gathered at Christian funerals to mourn the useless.
Because the historian Daniel Ok. Williams has noted, “Gun rights advocacy shouldn’t be an intrinsic function of each model of evangelicalism.” Whereas current surveys discover that 4 in 10 white evangelicals personal weapons, the bulk don’t, and different denominational affiliations supply examples of non secular participation discouraging a fixation on firearms. It’s potential that the much less one sees oneself as an itinerant loner in a hostile world, just like the armed preacher in a silent western, the much less one is more likely to look to weapons as a supply of salvation.
Nonetheless, the methods Christian concepts could also be contributing to a gun tradition that abets our epidemic of mass shootings by serving to to maintain the nation nicely armed ought to encourage reflection. Not one of the current mass shootings had explicitly spiritual motivations, however the spiritual contexts of our seemingly everlasting drawback with gun violence — its historical past, its theology, its myths — are too necessary to disregard.
Mass shootings are, in a approach, assaults on the concept of neighborhood itself. They happen the place there are folks gathered — for leisure, for studying, for purchasing, for worship — within the areas we create collectively. Some imagine that such assaults are the fault of armed people alone and might be addressed solely via armed particular person response. Others imagine they happen inside the framework of what we collectively permit and should have communal options.