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May 11, 2009

More Thoughts on Guns

Glock_30_45cal We wandered a bit off-topic in the thread about what we expect in the president's Supreme Court nominee: I mentioned that I figure his nominee will be someone who will oppose the private ownership of guns, which led Andy to wonder why Christians want to own guns in the first place, as if there were some biblical reason why we shouldn't. I thought that was a reasonable issue to address, and decided to continue the discussion here.

I can't speak for every gun-owning Christian; I can only speak for my family, especially my husband and myself. First, guns are part of two sports we both enjoy -- hunting and shooting. When it comes to hunting, we only kill animals we're going to eat, such as deer, wild pig, elk, antelope, rabbits, and quail. While we certainly don't need to hunt to eat, we see nothing wrong -- certainly nothing unbiblical -- in doing so. The fact that we both grew up in the country, and regularly ate what we and our fathers killed, makes this activity normal for us. (I can understand why it might seem strange to a city dweller who thinks that all meat comes in styrofoam packages.) 

We also like to go target shooting. I must admit that I'm only a fair shot on the range, but my husband is fantastic -- whether with a shotgun shooting skeet (he's poetry-in-motion) or with a pistol or high-powered rifle shooting targets. In fact, he once captained the Air Force's High Powered Rifle Team and competed at the national level. Both our children (now adults) like to go target shooting, something we started them doing at a young age. FYI, my husband and I never allowed our kids to have toy guns; we never wanted them to think of guns as something to play around with. For the same reason, I am adamantly opposed to videos games which teach children to shoot. Guns are not toys and should never be treated as such.

Second, we own guns for protection from "varmints" -- both animal and human. Jesus told His followers to sell their extra cloak and buy a sword because He knew that the world was a dangerous place and that they might need to defend themselves -- whether from dangerous animals or humans. I have never had to kill a lion, as David did, but I have certainly had occasion to shoot poisonous snakes when I was out camping, hiking, or hunting. And, should a criminal break into my home or threaten someone I love, I have no problem using a gun in our defense. Yes, it would be nice if the police could be around 24/7 to  handle the bad guys for us, but that's not ever going to happen. Some of the responsibility for protecting myself and those I care about remains in my hands.

The Ten Commandments prohibits murder -- the taking of innocent life. The Bible does not condemn killing in self-defense or killing as part of your job (military or police). I've never had to use a gun to protect myself, but I know of at least two occasions when my son's life was most likely saved because he was carrying a weapon. He didn't have to use it, but the fact that he had a gun made the bad guys run away.

Like Gina is about to be, my husband and I are licensed to carry concealed weapons. (Neither of us can legally have a gun on our person or even in our cars where we work; and though we disagree with that law, we abide by it.) When we travel, and sometimes when we go out for the evening, my husband is almost always armed. At the very least, we will have a gun in the car "just in case." We aren't paranoid, just prudent.

I see nothing inherent in Christianity that tells me I have to allow a criminal to murder me or to murder someone I love. Yes, this is what Jesus did when He went to the cross; but that was necessary for Him to pay for the sins of the entire world. As a Christian, I certainly realize that God may one day call upon me to be martyred for my faith. But I trust He'll let me know if and when the time comes. In the meantime, I'll keep my .45 handy.

Third, and this may be the hardest thing for a non-gun person to grasp, guns can be quite beautiful works of art (and a pretty smart investment). My husband is a licensed gunsmith, and he enjoys the technical aspects and artistry that go into a well-made rifle, shotgun, or pistol -- the same way other people might appreciate a well-crafted knife, car, airplane, or painting. Yes, guns are dangerous, but so are many items human beings have created over the centuries. Yes, they're dangerous, but not inherently evil, as some of the more vocal members of the anti-gun movement would have everyone believe.

So, Andy (and anyone else who was wondering), this is why my husband and I -- both Christians -- want to keep our guns. If you are a Christian gun-owner, what other reasons would you add to our list?

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Comments

LeeQuod

Diane wrote: "We wandered a bit off-topic in the thread about what we expect in the president's Supreme Court nominee:"

Oh, my bad - I thought we were rehashing the plot of "The Pelican Brief". :-)

"I'm only a fair shot on the range, but my husband is fantastic"

Y'know, nothing says "Agree with me..." quite like "...because my husband could drop you like a rock at 1,000 yards." :-D On the other hand, I've always been a bit surprised at just how calm the personalities of skilled marksmen are (I've known half a dozen), and I've wondered if it was cause, or effect.

I don't a gun and never have, although I wanted one when my daughters started to date, so I could be cleaning it when the boys came over. No bullets, just lots of cleaning fluid and my eyes locked with theirs. But I see a lot of references to swords in the New Testament, and those have to be the equivalent for that timeframe.

And I wonder how the American Revolution would have turned out had the Christians here refused to take up arms - and use them.

"Like Gina is about to be, my husband and I are licensed to carry concealed weapons."

Can't blame Gina; goodness, if I thought *I* might suddenly appear on Rahm Emanuel's radar,...

jason taylor

LeeQuod my dear old friend, a lot of American Christians did refuse to take up arms in the American Revolution and some got tarred for it.

Don't be like Homer Simpson and assume that the three good wars were the American Revolution, World War II, and Star Wars.

As for owning guns, I don't. I do have a nice looking sword.

TaylorH

I was a city slicker and grew up in Houston, but now I live in West Texas. There are rattlesnakes here, and they are NOT just way "off the beaten path." They are in the road, on the driveway, in the yard, next to the house. As a single guy, without a gun, I just killed them with a long, heavy hoe. Now I am a husband and father; I have a responsibility to more than just myself. I use a shotgun and stay as far away from the rattlesnakes as possible.

I have heard the argument from people who do not live with rattlesnakes or other such creatures say that I should just get away. Though it is a good point to be safe, it is not terribly wise in the long run. Either that snake will go away and come back to surprise you another day, or it will go off and procreate another 40+ snakes to haunt you with next year. Neither of these conclusions has ever sounded appealing to me.

LeeQuod

Jason Taylor harrumphed: "LeeQuod my dear old friend, a lot of American Christians did refuse to take up arms in the American Revolution and some got tarred for it."

Jason, old chap, old pal, are you saying that it was entirely non-Christians who liberated us from George III of England? ;-)

I think it's instructive to review the Declaration of Independence's list of grievances, and consider shooting military personnel (such as Diane's husband, and Anne's husband, who would simply be following orders from their commander) because I was aggrieved over those issues. I'd envision women like those two fine ladies as widows (with, as now, my heart breaking), and argue strenuously that we should simply endure hardship as good Christians are called to do. I'd want to negotiate *more*, in fact, than any modern Democrat wants to do with our current enemies. (Breathe, Andy, breathe!) The "John Adams" television series makes this issue clear very poignantly in its first episode.

I do wonder how George Washington or anyone else could look at a soldier in a British uniform and shout "Fire!"

So, Jason, bring on the tar. While you heat it up, I'll think about whether or not insisting that taxation include representation is an issue worthy of the life of a friend's loved one - or anyone's loved one.

But I do know that had all the American Christians - including George Washington - refused to shoot people, we would almost certainly today be singing "God Save the Queen".

Diane Singer

TaylorH talked about his experiences with rattlesnakes, something I can identify with. Taylor, you're absolutely right: they do have a tendency to show up where, and when, you least expect them. That's why we've always had both guns AND cats to handle potential snake problems.

LeeQuod wrote "Y'know, nothing says "Agree with me..." quite like "...because my husband could drop you like a rock at 1,000 yards." :-D"

BIG GRIN in return! Actually, there's a funny story related to this. My family (husband, son, daughter, and daughter-in-law) were all on the shooting range one day when we ran into a guy my son works with. After watching each of us take a turn shooting, he quipped to my son, "I really, really wouldn't want to mess with your family." I pray that I will NEVER need to pull a gun on someone in order to defend myself or others, but my father and husband made sure that if the need ever arises, I'll be ready.

Dan Gill

I am a shooter and hunter, and I struggled for quite a while over the issue of self-defense. It is very easy to look at "turn the other cheek" and think that complete pacifism is the only Christian way. It is not. In addition to protecting oneself, there are others who will be harmed if good people do nothing.

I do not believe that Jesus intended us to allow criminals to simply get away with whatever they wanted to do. I pray I never have to use a gun in defense of myself or others. I will if I need to.

That said, I think using Jesus' admonition to sell the cloak and buy a sword as justification is a bit of a stretch. It seems clear that the reason for that was so he would be "numbered among transgressors". Of more interest is the the apostles already had two swords when he said that. Not surprising considering that one was named Simon the Zealot.

Guns are tools, pure and simple. They are no more evil than a hammer, and statistically far less deadly than an automobile.

Dan Gill

If only I could type . . . That should be "Of more interest is the fact that the apostles already had two swords . . .

Andy

Wow, Diane, one of my tweaks inspired a blog topic on the Point. Honored, ma'am. It will probably amaze you to learn that I agree with every one of your reasons for gun possession, and the right to it. My grandad made gorgeous Kentucky long rifles, and I am still bummed that I never inherited one.

Out here in KC, most of us midwest Liberals are fine with responsible gun ownership.

I guess my question re: guns and American Christendom is the intimate ties you folks have with the most radical side of the gun issue. It does seen incongruous to us pagans. And I also am still of the opinion that concealed carry is gutless. CC folks know that most people in civil society have a gut reaction against public gun-toting, so you push for laws to get around it. In my opinion, gun- toters should just strap their pieces on and go about their business, loud and proud supporters of the 2nd Amendment. After a while, the rest of us will get used to it, right?

(As an aside, I grew up singing God Save the Queen in Sydney. Well, not actually singing it. We were JW's at the time, so my dad got permission for us to wait outside school assembly until after the anthem. It was the sixties, and GStQ was still the anthem at the time. Now I think it's "Advance Australia Fair.")

Jason Taylor

LeeQuod, my dear old chap. I am saying that there was a lot of controversy-more even then in Vietnam.

As for the Declaration of Independance it behooves one to note that most of the complaints listed there were fairly typical rigors of eighteenth century warfare. And the CSA could make almost the same complaints about Lincoln(and did). The chief difference was that Lincoln simply did it more competantly.

As for how George Washington could look at a soldier in a British uniform and shout fire, that wasn't his job, that was a junior officers job. And most of the time even private soldiers didn't shoot at other private soldiers but shot "to whom it may concern". Most of the time they did not even see each other because of the smoke.

The presumptions of the British government at the time were far less then those of the modern Federal government. It was only toward the very end(when local political institutions were actually being shut down)that it became excruciating enough for a rational person to think it worthy of fighting over. Of course back then they were more jealous of liberties worthy of the name and less jealous of the right to be depraved.

As for taxation and representation, the issue was whether parliment as a whole represented the colonies too or whether each member represented it's borough. And King George would have said that Parliament WAS the representation(he had no ambitions to be an absolute monarch; he thought he was defending the English constitution too)That was a new issue as previously the only Empire England had was Irishmen, Scotsmen, Welsh, and French. Irishmen and Scotsmen were ornery enough but didn't give a hoot about Sassenech legalisms. Welsh put up a fair fight(the enemy in the original Men of Harlech was the English not the Zulus)but managed to get into the system quicker and even had one of their own become King at Bosworth field. And when Frenchmen complained Good King Harry paid them a visit on St Crispins day. But there was noprecedant in the English system for overseas colonies populated by Englishmen and where they fit in was something of a mystery at the time. It could have been handled better, but it is not really that supprising that it became a civil war: English are more ornery then their evening dress and tea and crumpets would indicate.

If there had been no American Revolution it would not have been so bad. And by the way John Adams would almost certainly have aggreed, if local priveledges were left undisturbed. Which in fact is the most compelling justification for the American Revolution-though as it happens a point which modern Americans have let by with an appaling lack of grouseing.

The fact is the whole thing was rather like a divorce and had much the same air to it. A divorce is a failure not a success and just because one or in this case both of the spouces succeeds briliantly without their ex, does not make it less so.

And God Save the Queen really isn't that bad a song. Or even that bad a sentiment. A Constitutional monarch allows English to subliminate toward an eccentric deliberate anachronism sentiments which Frenchmen, Germans, and Italians(sorry Gina)use to make tyrants. In it's proper place admiration is fine, and the fact that the Queen is not taken to seriously either by herself or by Englishmen keeps it in it's proper place. If it was "God save Tony Blair" it might be objectionable.
Or for that matter, "God save Obama".

Jason Taylor

Part of my dubiousness is of course recognition that it was a tragic "divorce". Part is that the American Revolution is told to simplisticly in pop culture and the enemy isn't given the Fair Play he should be after two-hundred years(though that is changing fortunatly).

Part though is that American Conservatives accept the American Revolution to uncritically. While it wasn't the same thing as "those other revolutions" and in fact arguably resembled the birth of Holland or of Switzerland more; in this and that there are instances where it WAS to close to "those other revolutions" to be uncritically lauded by any conservative. And John Adams would probably aggree with that as well.

Andy

When did we lose the whole gun thing in this thread? If we are to go off track on the ARW, shouldn't I be the one doing the derailing? I'm confused...

Gina

Andy has a point. Let's leave the historical tangent and get back on (ahem) target.

Jason Taylor

It's all LeeQuod's fault.

Jason Taylor

In any case guns have been part of the culture of large parts of the country before there were cars and computers, and not just the worst parts. Furthermore many do feel a need to at least take a symbolic responsibility for their own defense.

LeeQuod

Jason's right; mea maxima culpa. I should by now know better than to go anywhere near "the h word" when Jason's around. A thread can quickly become an entire woolen mill.

Andy wrote: "I guess my question re: guns and American Christendom is the intimate ties you folks have with the most radical side of the gun issue. It does seen incongruous to us pagans."

But Andy, couldn't you replace "gun issue" with any other issue of political concern? These days, to support an organization like the NRA is to be made responsible for their lunatic fringe, even if you abhor them. But this is also true for opposing the normalization of homosexuality; instantly you're responsible for the murder of Matthew Shepard. And so on. It's politics as played by today's rules.

And, for some of us, the notion of personal gun ownership and personal defense of liberty is deeply ingrained. (Not saying "the h word", lest someone wax grandeloquent again.) It's the one reason I'd purchase a weapon.

But I have friends who are Friends (Quakers, :-)), and I respect their pacifism.

Andy also wrote: "And I also am still of the opinion that concealed carry is gutless."

To which I retort "A liberal is a conservative who hasn't been mugged yet." But it seems to me that real test of your conviction would be to repeat your "gutless" statement in a few weeks, perhaps on a day when Gina's in a foul mood. ;-)

Jason Taylor

As far as Friends go, I wouldn't know if they have a distaste for guns per se. But Plain Folk often have guns with which to add to their Plain meals. The Ordnung does not regard nonresistance as applying to deer.

Andy

But Lee, as a law abiding citizen, I have nothing to fear from calling a concealed toter gutless, as they are all just selfless heroes out to get the drop on "human varmints." (Never thought I'd see that phrase on a Christian blog. Reminds me of a phrase Limbaugh is fond of: "human debris.")

LeeQuod

Andy wrote: "Never thought I'd see that phrase on a Christian blog."

Yup, seems compatible only with a Darwinian worldview, doesn't it? There's humans who've evolved, and humans who haven't...

Diane Singer

Andy, I apologize for offending you with my poor attempt to be humorous ("human varmints"). While I acknowledge that all human beings are made in the image of God, I also acknowledge that we're fallen -- and some take that fallenness to horrendous depths. Thus, if a criminal is trying to hurt me or others, then -- in my mind -- he (or she) has made a choice to act like a vicious animal, and I have no qualms about treating him as such in the course of defending myself or protecting someone else. However, my Christian duty tells me that once that task is handled (and assuming I don't have to use deadly force to stop him), I would need to forgive him and tell him about Christ so he can, hopefully, be liberated from his life of sin and crime.

Jason Taylor

Speaking of "human varmints" andy, someone asked why there was a higher homicide rate in the South then New England(there always has been). He received a reply something to the effect of, "I guess there's more folk that need killin".

Andy

Diane: I was not offended. Just surprised. If the raider is in your house, by all means lock and load. As for "the Fall," I consider that notion to be cosmic psychodrama, not a basis for cosmology. (No offense to anyone out there.)

Lee: An evolutionary view of humanity does NOT posit that some humans are more evolved than others. There is variation in the species that allows for greater reproductive success for some and less for others. "More evolved" is not a scientific phrase.

Jason: It is true that many social pathologies are more prevalent in the South. (I can include links to the studies if you like.) Wonder why that is?

LeeQuod

Diane, you should know that Andy can be quite disingenuous at times. Dunno if this is really one of those, or maybe an unconscious slip on his part, but the notion that humans could be vermin is far more compatible with his worldview than yours and mine.

Plus, Australians (even those who've emigrated) are known for their, uh, "unique" senses of humo(u)r.

So his attitude is really worthy of Gina's favorite "shocked, SHOCKED!" video from Casablanca.

Jason Taylor

For fear of diggressing again, the south has a more traditionally oriented "natural culture". New England was intended to be a social experiment and had carefully chosen applicants from roughly equal families of mid-level status. The original New Englanders could be compared to Kibbutzim. Furthermore they had a strong sense of group loyalty and deviant behavior could be very harshly punished.

In the South, the Tidewater was immidiately recognizable as a typical hierarchical structure of valley folk not to different from many European or Asian ones. And the Scotch-Irish frontier was a typical tribal society. The South is really more like the rest of the world then the North.

Jason Taylor

By the way doesn't saying"Many social pathologies are prevalant in the south" have a vague to saying "I guess there's more folk that need killin?"

Ben W

The South is also poorer (less natural resources and faintly lingering effects of the WNA). Where people have less opportunities, they're more likely to resort to crime.

Andy

Lee: Not Australian, we just lived there for seven years in the sixties-seventies. Oh, and disingenuous? Sir, you wound me. I mean everything I say here.

Jason: It is interesting that throughout our history, the knock on the North from Southerners is that we lacked religion and were immoral urbanites. (I was born in Upstate NY state and go back every year or so.) But again, we digress from firearms.

LeeQuod

Andy wrote: "There is variation in the species that allows for greater reproductive success for some and less for others."

Weasel words, my friend. Please speak plainly, in terms of microevolution. Darwin himself had no such hesitation; have modern believers in evolution gone... hmmm, "gutless" comes to mind... because they don't want to be labeled racist?

And of course there's that small matter of Planned Parenthood wanting to insure that only the fittest humans are reproducing in large numbers. Hence their effort to have "imbeciles" sterilized, and so on.

And with an eye on the original topic, I'll note that being a crack shot certainly increases one's likelihood of reproductive success - unless you're drafted into in the First Cavalry, and sent to the front lines. But snipers are usually a longer way from harm.

Hmmm - speaking of original topics, were any Supreme Court justices known for their skills with a rifle? Oliver Wendell Holmes was a Civil War vet. But OOPS - this could lead to another off-topic extended history lesson; sorry, my bad, nevermind.

Steve (SBK)

Argh. I meant to respond earlier, but not knowing how computers work (*wink*), I lost my comment.

And so. I find this discussion particularly fascinating as it virtually never comes up where I live (in Western Canada, low population). I know very few gun owners. I've enjoyed shooting air-rifles as pop cans and I've shot a .22 at gophers (sorry PETA, not really). I think I've seen something in the range of a .303 rifle (does that make sense?) I've never seen a privately owned handgun (police officers having the holstered ones I have seen).
So when I hear that Gina's going to be packin' a piece, I find that humorous. (Analyzing that, I think it's because I associate guns with movies and thus, somehow relate them to 'entertainment'. Hmmm.)

I can definitely see the arguments from both sides. Similar to LeeQuod, I have a lot of Anabaptist friends (Mennonites) and find their views on pacifism interesting. Usually it comes down to some take on how Martin Luther's two-kingdom theology is applied and lived out. (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_the_two_kingdoms )

There is definitely a tension, for me. In some ways I wonder if our modern lifestyles lead to too much self-reliance and really 'getting away from the land' where the brevity of life can be ignored because of our horrendous pace. This is one reason I have great respect for say, the Amish, who control the influence of technology on their lives and don't let it control them (especially as it lets them stay united with a community). Each of us could meet our Maker tomorrow. On the other hand, I agree that we have a responsibility to protect those entrusted to us and regulate justice, but to what degree?
I find I have a tension between what we can, should and do... do. And knowing the difference.

Anyway, I probably am not worthy to be in the discussion because, probably, this issue will never, nor need to, confront me. Although, I wonder if reducing gun ownership in 'socialist' countries (I suppose that's almost every country compared to USA) somehow makes us (others), as a whole, less courageous, relying more on... 'the state'. On the other hand, do we say this is leaving vengeance to the Lord, as he has appointed governors to punish the wrong-doers? At the same time, perhaps it should be viewed in moderation, like alcohol - but is it the same 'kind' of thing?

So what are some thoughts on this? Is any of this relevant?

To Andy, my thinking on concealed weapons (remembering that this is a non-issue here): if everyone operated in the chivalry / nobility realm, I would see your point better. Unfortunately, were I a criminal, the best thing to do would be to remove those who are protectors, the strongest resistors, and the easiest way to determine that is who's holstering a gun at their side. I perceive this mode of operation (removing the defenders to pillage the weak) the gutless mode. The benefit, therefore, in my mind to a concealed weapon is that it is useful for surprise and thus defusing a situation, more than the actual intent to use. i.e. I would think the last line of action would 'guns a'blazin', whereas for the gutless, it would be the first line of action.

Oh, and I should note that, to twist your phrase Andy, "Humanity's view of the evolution of humanity DOES posit that some are more evolved than others. Evolution, being purposeless, has no boundaries, as certain as the very idea of a human 'species' is meaningless (genetic variation just happens to be quite close for what we call humans)." But that's off topic.

And finally, Diane, I think you've got it backwards. I would probably appreciate a gun for its fine craftsmanship above other reasons. There is something enthralling about the combination of art and precision engineering. Being a lone gunsmith must be very rewarding.

Jason Taylor

Wanna bet Lee? Snipers have to go behind enemy lines.

Jason Taylor

I think I would agree with Steve on that one: I would appreciate fine craftsmanship and historical aura more. I would also prefer not to have a pistol: except for revolvers pistols are rather ugly. Though it was not so long ago that many Americans had Lugers which had been aquired Vae Victas over in Europe. While these aren't pretty in appearance they do have an atmosphere.

What would be really nice to own would be a Pennsylvania/Kentucky Long Rifle. Those have a sort of folklore around them of the kind usually reserved for swords. They are reasonably handsome albeit not as handsome as the Brown Bess(which is a musket not a rifle). And they have a fascinating history(though grim of course) dating back to Dan Morgan's riflemen in the Continential Army, and further back. At the time they would be custom made, though probably if one gets one it was made at a factory for sale.

Interestingly though, I would prefer a Kukri to a rifle. Even though Kukris are not as pretty as Katanas, they have a fine history of their own and they are a peasant's weapon rather then a pampered aristocrat's one. Kukris are also a utility piece and useful for peaceful purposes.

Carcauf

It is of interest to me that no one is arguing for assault weapons--so apparently none are in the NRA. And that observation gives me good feelings about the owners who have posted. The NRA takes an all or none approach, unable to distinguish between the purposes of a sporting or self-defense weapon from one that is designed for offensive use, as in murder.

Jason Taylor

Assault weapons are millitary pieces that can be used as a submachine gun or rifle by turns. They were invented by Germany toward the end of WWII but like several German inventions came to late to make much difference in the final results.

I think the reason for the NRA's obstinacy is a "give em an inch and they'll take a mile" philosophy. And also that defining whether a given weapon is an assault weapon can be vague at times. It is, permitted I believe, to own an assault weapon with the automatic mode disabled in some instances(probably with a special permit or some such), but it is apparently possible for a black-market gunsmith to re-enable the automatic mode.

Assault weapons are ugly like many modern weapons. For some reason they don't make em like they used to. Not just small arms. Planes are still pretty, as are subs but tanks are as ugly as ever and surface warships have all those senors instead of those giant guns they had earlier in the century which gave an aesthetically pleasing feel of menace. In any case modern small arms don't have a look to them like they used to. The clips have an angular shape, and folding stocks look unnatural. The curious shaped barrel of an M-16 is annoying. And Kalishnakovs have a really bad appearance.

I don't really know why anyone would want an assault rifle for a collection but no accounting for taste. In Switzerland and Israel of course, everyone would own them as both country's have a millitary system that partakes of the militia* system.

*millitary "volunteer fire department" and an inate part of the defense structure. Not "gang of bandits" as the word is unfortunatly used today.

Jason Taylor

By the way Andy to answer this question:

"It is interesting that throughout our history, the knock on the North from Southerners is that we lacked religion and were immoral urbanites. (I was born in Upstate NY state and go back every year or so.) But again, we digress from firearms."

The answer is that times have changed and Cotton Mather is dead.

To keep from digressing to much from firearms Puritans used to keep the militia's powder in the church. Which meant of course that they could not light the stove during a service even during a New England winter. They considered it a point of honor not to shiver. This has a vague relation to powder if not firearms and is of interest.

Jason Taylor


One thing interesting is that despite the legend, in the Old West guns were seldom used for mahem. They were often used by cowboys for signaling during a blizzard or dust storm. And of course they were used to chase away predators and to give mercy killings to wounded beasts. They are likly still used for that now.

Interestingly real gunslingers tended to prefer the shotgun to pistol. The "quick draw" in the High Noon style was a myth and probably derived from sudden fights started that neither party expected beforehand. This aspect of the Old West is exaggerated but it did exist.

Andy

Perhaps the ugliness of today's weaponry is just an acceptance of their ugly purpose. Necessary at times, but in my view, only as a final resort.

Jason Taylor

Hunting rifles are still good looking of course.

I think the unaesthetic appearance of modern millitary small arms is a technological accident. But who knows? It is to some degree an acceptance that practicality is more important, allow older stuff was reasonably practical for it's time. In so far as that is true you may be right Andy.

There may also be a bit of "sci-fi" mindset among modern designers: some modern stuff looks like it was made for another century.

Steve (SBK)

On the aspect of aesthetic appeal (one of Diane's original points), I don't think all of today's weaponry is ugly. Most of it is simply utilitarian, which usually is not 'beautiful'.
(Aside, that's what is interesting about sci-fi (e.g. Star Trek) weaponry, Jason - the seeming 'change of heart' of mass producers of future weapons... the move from utility to... "coolness")
But on beauty, there can be different perceptions of beauty (or, at least, feelings of awe, which is very close). That is, a weapon may be ugly physically, but it can have astounding super-human qualities. And when I say that, I am mainly referencing weapons that a single human could not wield: e.g. a howitzer or a ballistic missile.
I watched a video recently that showed a missile (or at least, the missile rocketry) pushing a car into a concrete slab at 600 miles/hour as an experiment to see what was left of the car. Not a whole lot - and the 'show' was rather awe-inspiring. Also, jet-fighters could be considered weapons... which have a certain grace. Also, missiles paved the way to the space age, satellites, the hubble telescope and men on the moon.
But, again, I think that pushes the boundary of our topic, away from personal ownership of a weapon - though my point was to say that beauty can be extracted from modern weapons. (Sorry about the tangent)

Jason Taylor


I suppose there is something of a cultural divide between those who find weapons distasteful and those who find them interesting.

For many the necessary associations of weapons with mayhem have an effect similar to that which the association of meat with idolatry used to have.

I think, though that Andy's question
about the seeming incongruity of guns to Christianity is interesting. It might be understood when he remembers that a lot of Christians simply come from parts of the country where guns are part of the culture. It is more a matter of defending provincial perogatives then about piety and the fact that they are Christians is coincidental.

As for the "Here are two swords" verse, that seems slightly cryptic. It seems to imply,"prepare for a long journey"; having weapons was inherant to travel for a long time.

LeeQuod

Andy wrote: "Oh, and disingenuous? Sir, you wound me."

Everybody, that kind of cleverness ("wound me", in a thread about guns) is why Andy's so great to have around - along with the whole "loyal opposition / advocatus diaboli" perspective that helps to keep us on our toes.

Andy, it's disingenuous to pretend that human evolution has... hmm, "miraculously"... eliminated all preexisting "Homo sapiens vermis", prevent any "vermis" from arising, and that only Homo sapiens sapiens exist today and can reproduce. Darwin and his contemporaries were not squeamish about seeing some humans - particularly those from Africa, but also anyone with a sloping brow - as less evolved from ape-like forbears than others. And in fact, they were less squeamish about using the terms "less evolved" and "more evolved", too - common terms for greater intelligence and greater impact on one's environment.

But I did say that I wasn't certain you were being disingenuous in this case. Your normal modus operandi is to criticize Christian morality as if atheist/agnostic morality were vastly superior, despite any evidence to support that position. Here you were merely implying that atheists/agnostics would never think of humans as vermin; if that was deliberate on your part to merely imply, then it was wise, since the evidence clearly contradicts it.

But I still greatly enjoy having you around. One day I hope you'll have the courage to address the "elephant in the room" issue of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. Until then, we can continue to duel with practice sabers via all these more minor issues.

And the Australian sense of humour is quite contagious, even for those not native-born.

Gina, did I take us off-topic again? Oh, shoot. :-)

Jason Taylor


Well fortunately for you LeeQuod, Gina does not yet own a gun. So the penalties for going off-topic aren't as great.

CC

Jason, you're confusing "assault weapons" with "assault rifles." Assault rifles are the real military rifles that fire in full auto, much like submachine guns. "Assault weapon" is a term used by gun control advocates to describe rifles with "evil" features like bayonets, pistol grips, and folding stocks. (Does anyone think a person with a gun is that much more of a threat to society if he can use it to stab someone?)

And not all such weapons are as ugly as you described. Look at the M14/M1A -- looks just like a traditional rifle. You could swap out the traditional stock of an M1A and replace it with evil features to make it look like an assault weapon. But it is still fundamentally the same device and does the same thing.

Some people want military style weapons simply because they look cool. Simple as that.

Jason Taylor

Actually bayonets do look cool, at least old-time ones. Though I have never heard of anyone trying to charge a deer.


CC

But I do know someone who was charged by a boar while hunting. A bayonet on his rifle sure would have been handy. An self-loading rifle with a high capacity magazine would have been even handier.

I have also heard of a woman who scared off a home intruder using an unloaded rifle with bayonet mounted.

jason taylor

Oh yeah! I can see why a burglar would be scared of that.

And speaking of boars there was one time when Queen Victoria's eldest son was going "pigsticking"(boarhunting)with an Indian Rajah. In those days, in India they still hunted boars in the old style on horseback with lances.

Now as it happened the Prince made some rookie mistake and the Rajah galloped over and rescued him. Then he said, "I know you are Prince of Wales, and you know you are Prince of Wales; but that boar doesn't know you are Prince of Wales."

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