Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

On Being Pro-Knife

Molly Ivins, the late political columnist and humorist from the great state of Texas, used to quip, “I’m not anti-gun; I’m pro-knife.”  Speaking as a Christian pacifist, I’m against the owning of ANY weapons.  But as a matter of public policy, I like Ivins’ perspective.  The pro-gun folk like to say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Well, this is trite, but true.  People have been murdered long before the invention of firearms and even since then people use many other things with which to murder their fellow human beings.  But what this doesn’t say is that guns make it easier for people to kill people.  And “improvements” in firearm manufacturing mean that each generation of guns makes it even easier for one person to kill ever larger numbers of people.   The good thing about being pro-knife is that it makes would-be murderers have to work harder!

I speak as a survivor.  In 1984, I was mugged by a man with a knife. I was brutally stabbed in the back repeatedly and nearly killed.  Now, perhaps, like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, I could have survived even if my attacker had used a gun.  But the odds that my would-be murderer would have succeeded with a gun are MUCH higher than with a knife.  And one can run away from someone with a knife more easily than someone with a gun.  I was never a very fast runner and am now middle-aged and overweight.  But I still have a much better chance at outrunning someone with a knife than I do of outrunning a bullet. (After all, I was born in Philadelphia, not on Krypton.)

Consider how much we could reduce violent tragedies if we replaced guns with knives:  High school shooting rampages like Columbine: Had the unhinged and alienated young men been armed with knives instead of guns, they might have succeeded in murdering one or two of their fellow students before being overpowered and disarmed–rather than dozens before killing themselves.  The accused shooter of Rep. Giffords may or may not have succeeded with a knife–but wouldn’t have killed 6 people and injured 10 others.  How much easier would it be to protect politicians from people with knives than from people with guns? We could reduce the size of the Secret Service and the Capitol Police and save money–while granting greater access to our elected officials as the Constitution’s Framers intended.  Remember a few years ago when an Amish school was massacred by a madman with a gun? The rampage would have been far less deadly if the man had only had a large Bowie knife.  Same with the Virginia Tech shooting.

The answer to every gun tragedy in this nation seems to be “more guns.”  More people in this country now own guns than at any time in our history.  3 out of 4 households have a firearm–a greater percentage than any other country (the nearest is Yemen).  But we aren’t safer. We are less safe. FBI statistics show that burglars shoot people with their own guns far more often than gunowners successfully repel armed burglaries.  Suicides and accidental shootings are incredibly high, too. 

So, let’s be pro-knife.  Let’s restrict handguns and automatic firearms  to the military (and cut the military, too, but that’s a different discussion). Hunters can own rifles, but let’s register them all and make mandatory safety classes and trigger locks.  Let’s make murderers work harder to commit their sins against the rest of us.

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January 11, 2011 Posted by | nonviolence, violence | 2 Comments

For the New Year: Check Out Ted Grimsrud’s New Blog

I have mentioned before the website, Peace Theology, by Ted Grimsrud, who teaches theology and peace studies at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. That website is a treasure trove of Grimsrud’s writings and reviews of other writings concerning issues related to war and peace from an explicitly Christian pacifist perspective–specifically from one who is an adult convert to the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. 

Well, now, Grimsrud has launched an accompanying blog, Thinking Pacifism.  Here Grimsrud is “thinking aloud” on peace related subjects and inviting feedback on writings in progress–such as the book he is writing on the moral legacy of World War II.  He has just begun a series of posts titled “Is Karl Barth good for Mennonites?” (Some Mennonite theologians such as John Howard Yoder have said “yes,” but others such Gordan Kaufman disagreed.)

All who are interested in these topics will profit from frequent visits and interactions–and what a good way to start the new year.

January 11, 2011 Posted by | blog, ethics, pacifism, theology | Leave a comment