Op-Ed

Gun-Owning Pastor: What Are We Doing Wrong?

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I am a responsible and experienced gun owner. I have been a hunter and shooter for more than 50 years. I am one of the 42 percent of Americans who say that they (or someone in their household) own a gun. In fact, I own a handful of the 300 million guns owned by Americans. I even own an AR-15.

Furthermore, I have completed the required training and presently hold a Concealed Pistol License, allowing me to carry a concealed weapon in more than 30 states.

Pretty much everywhere I go, I carry a firearm. You don’t see it. But, it’s there. Because we live in an increasingly dangerous culture. We all know that. And if ever I find myself in an active shooter situation, I refuse to sit helplessly by and watch my loved ones die at the hands a madman with a gun.

My family — and everyone I love — is safer when I and other trained, responsible, armed people are close by.

All of us were shocked recently upon hearing about an evil, disturbed 19-year-old who meticulously planned and executed a mass shooting at a Florida school. As a father and a grandfather, this breaks my heart and tears at my soul. I simply cannot imagine the anguish of parents and grandparents who lose children to this madness.

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Immediately, people immediately began asking, “Why can’t we stop this slaughter of our kids?” This is a natural and unavoidable question in the aftermath of such horrific events.

Of course, politicians and social media philosophers drew battle lines and began lobbing verbal grenades at each other. Some statements were coolly calculated to gain political advantage by capitalizing on an unimaginably cruel act. Attempts to gain political traction on the backs of peoples’ grief are truly despicable. But our politicians seem to do it with regularity and without remorse.

Predictably, many people staked out emotionally charged positions without serious thought to real solutions. Some people argued for “knee-jerk”, simplistic and unrealistic responses.

And the debate is increasingly filled with outrageously false accusations and demeaning mis-characterizations of those who have a different perspective: “If you don’t agree with me on this, you don’t care about kids, you aren’t a decent person, or you aren’t a real American.”

Do you think Americans are failing to raise their children properly?

I’ve been disappointed to see my own friends engage in these counterproductive rants, making statements like, “Those who defend the weapons don’t care about the slaughter of these kids,” or, “Some people care more about guns than kids.”

As a gun owner and shooter, I take deep personal offense to such foolish, insulting and patently absurd generalizations. I feel enormous grief for the loss of these innocent lives. For you to suggest otherwise displays either an ignorance of my character, or a sad and dangerous disregard for truth.

This divisive rhetoric gets us nowhere. But on and on it goes.

So, no surprise here, we find ourselves facing yet another national crisis with a deeply divided culture in which no one seems willing to actually deal with the problem. In fact – and herein lies the real dilemma — no one is even asking the right question!

Instead of asking, “How do we get rid of the guns?”, we should be asking, “Why are we raising a generation of young men who even entertain, let alone execute, degenerate ideas like walking into a crowded theater or shopping mall and brutally take the lives of random strangers? Why are we raising boys who will go into a high school, set off the fire alarm and turn the hallways into a killing field?”

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We need to ask ourselves, ”What are we doing wrong in the way we raise our sons? Why won’t we have a national conversation about where we are going wrong in shaping the hearts, minds and souls of our kids?

It wasn’t always like this. I’m 63 years old. I’m one of those clichés who drove a pickup with a rifle and a shotgun on a gun rack in the back window of the truck — a common sight in the parking lot of my high school. But, hear me on this, no one used those guns to go on shooting sprees. No one. Something has changed.

Something foundational has shifted in our national conscience. Something vital has changed in our corporate paradigm. We need to have the courage to confront those changes.

Why won’t we have a thoughtful conversation about the massive cultural shifts of the past 50 years? Why don’t we confront the problem of men who leave their families and the devastating consequences of that decision upon their fatherless sons? Where are the people who say, “What about our sons’ constant exposure to grisly, gruesome, and gratuitous violence in movies, music and video games?” Why aren’t we exploring the question of irresponsible, egocentric parents who care more about their own comfort and their own pursuits than they care about the needs of their children?

Why don’t we ask what we are doing wrong as a society to raise boys without the most basic elements of human decency like respect for human life? We should be asking, “Why are we raising sons who understand nothing of manhood, who don’t care about protecting the helpless instead of harming the helpless?”

Somebody should be saying, we must raise better sons! Somebody should be asking, “What do we need to change in order to raise strong, selfless, courageous boys who grow to become noble men?”

An ancient philosopher-king once said, “A good man walks in integrity; and his children are blessed after him.” Perhaps Walt Kelly was right when he famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

I think somebody needs to say, “Hey! Let’s all just stop and take a breath. Let’s take a moment to examine the culture we have built and see what we are doing wrong.”

This is the only way to stop the madness. Please, God, make it so.

Thomas Minnick is a pastor, writer and storyteller who has lived in Monroe, Washington, long enough that he tries to claim “native” status. He raised his kids to love the outdoors — camping, hunting and fishing. Nowadays, when he’s not writing, you’ll most likely find him riding his motorcycle on beautiful Pacific Northwest back roads and highways.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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