March 6, 2008
When I was ten years old my father and mother made it clear that they did not like guns, but they also made it clear that knowledge was a better defense than avoidance. Knowing I might someday encounter a gun they decided I would be safer if I knew how to operate and hold guns correctly. So I spent some weeks learning how to carry and shoot a rifle and pistol. For years I kept the paper target with three holes clustered just above and to the right of center as a token of my success and passing grade in the class.
Today I am something of a pacifist and as time has gone on I have become quite unhappy with the plethora of guns in this world: most of them born of fear or hatred. Then, some weeks ago a member of my church found he was slipping into a deep depression and, instead of killing himself, he got admitted to the psych ward of the hospital. Eventually he and I spent some time with his caseworker who said that before he could be released he needed me to remove one particular risk of suicide from his home. So that winter afternoon, armed with the knowledge of how to find a key and where to find the source of temptation, I went and took a gun from his house.
Never in my days did I think that ministry would lead me to hold a loaded gun in my hand. I took the bullets out and then began to wonder “what next?” One voice in me wanted to throw it into the White River, where it might “sleep with the fishes,” or perhaps I could give it a nice burial in the deep woods somewhere. The ten-year-old in me thought about how this was not a James Bond weapon, more something that might be carried toward a High Noon, and considered keeping it. The practical voice said that I should sell it and give the proceeds to the church’s operating fund, but immediately another voice said, “It’s not yours to sell, you don’t want to sell it to the wrong persons, and who wants the church to profit from the sale of weapons? Rid the world of its evil!” Still the practical voice insisted that “selling the gun for the church is what was suggested by the case worker.” So here I am, with a gun hidden away (not at the church) and not sure what I can and should do with it.
What do you think?