PRAYER ALERT: That God comes back to US schools and keeps gunmen out.In the gun control debates over how to prevent further horrific attacks by gunmen, Vice President Biden has consulted with various groups and made proposals to President Obama, who is already committing his support for strengthening background checks, resuming the assault weapons ban, and limiting high-capacity ammunition clips. In the meantime, gun sales have soared to record levels in the US since the December 14 massacre of 20 young children and six adults, and injury of two more adults, at a Newtown CT grade school. The mass rush of buyers anticipated what quickly followed: in the midst of national mourning, gun control debates have proponents calling for new restrictions on gun sales, and opponents calling for stronger enforcement of current laws. One measure they agree on is stricter background checks. Federal law requires that any gun buyer must complete a background-check form about his criminal history, which is then referred to a federal background screener. In 2010 nearly 80,000 Americans were caught lying on these forms, yet only 44 of them were charged with a crime. A conviction would carry a maximum sentence of six months, which would certainly be a strong deterrent if enforced.
Gun control debates —what does the research say?
However, a background check would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy, since Adam Lanza, 20, used firearms legally purchased by his mother, who was his first victim. Lanza’s rampage raised many difficult questions. In the gun control debates not only are gun-control advocates and right-to-bear-arms supporters divided over the answers, the research is divided too. Some studies conclude that the more gun owners in a given area, the less violent crime occurs; others that gun ownership significantly increases total homicide rates; still others that there is no correlation at all. However, there is more research consensus that the 1994-2004 Assault Weapons Ban, which also limited gun magazines to ten rounds of ammunition, had practically no measurable effect. It targeted primarily rifles that, with each trigger pull, “automatically extract the spent cartridge casing and load the next cartridge into the chamber, ready to fire again,” and are rarely used in violent crimes (see Wikipedia links below). Still, the debate over these and other measures continues.
Gun control debates -what does God’s word say?
Amid these various findings we can turn to God’s word for reliable answers. Abraham, Barak, Jephthah, Samson, David and other heroes in the OT hall of faith in Hebrews 11 either had private arms or raised militias or both. After Moses returned to Egypt, he did not use arms as he led his people through the desert, but he prayed while other Israelites did battle (Ex. 17). Elijah did not use arms after slaying the false prophets at Mount Carmel, but he relied on heaven to stop armed forces, as did his successor Elisha (1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 1,6). Cornelius, after his conversion, was allowed to retain arms as a centurion to keep the peace at Caesarea (Acts 10). So God assigns a time to war, a time to pray, a time to keep the peace with arms, and a time to rely on the forces of heaven. James and John wanted to call down lightning from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans, but they asked Jesus first—as must we in any case—and He forbade them. From Him we learn the highest law: love your enemies.
Gun control debates — can we debate with an attacker?
That’s what high Science school teacher Ryan Heber did on January 10, four weeks after the Newtown shooting. He debated with an attacker with love. A 16-year-old student carrying his brother’s shotgun came in and opened fire on Heber’s classroom in Taft, California. Though hit by a shotgun pellet, Heber calmly stood in the gunman’s way and talked him into dropping his weapon, allowing 28 potential victims to escape—the same number that were shot in Newtown, CT. This time, only one was seriously injured. Is God showing those of us who don’t carry guns that He has a better way to disarm attackers?
A TIME TO PRAY: Father, we turn to You as the all-wise, all-loving God for answers in the wake of this tragic shooting which has so devastated the nation—especially the vulnerable children. We thank You that in Jesus we have the Lion of Judah who is a fierce defender of Your people, but also the Lamb of God who takes away our sin and deals tenderly with our vulnerabilities. In the current gun control debates, many people blame You for allowing this awful atrocity to happen to such small schoolchildren. But this nation turned you out of the public schools long ago when it forbade teachers or students to pray to You. Though they cannot ask, seek or knock, You are asking us to ask for them, You are seeking Your way back in, and You are standing at the doors of the schools and the government, You are knocking and You are saying, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Let this time of great need be a time when they do hear Your voice. Since they cannot speak out in prayer, we declare You will come back to this nation, You will make Your voice heard, and for everyone that opens the door and lets You in, You will be a great Savior, Deliverer, Lord and Defender.
Show what a great difference You make for those who do let You be Lord of their lives, so others be encouraged to do so too—even Congressmen, even the Vice-President, even the President himself. Only You have the answers we need, and only You deserve to be Lord. Set a course for this nation to enact and enforce just laws regarding violent crime, to return to its godly foundations, and to recognize You as the only God in whom we trust. Most of all, build Your church as the refuge to which mourners can come for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, sinners can come for the forgiving power of Your Son, and vulnerable children can find the Father. Send forth more Ryan Hebers to make peace with the persecutors, so that they, like the formerly violent Saul, may also be brought in. Make us a house of prayer for the schools and the places of government, that each may be allowed to a house of prayer too, as they once were. You have great plans for those who do, for with You all things are possible. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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