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Opinion | The Myth of the ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ Has Religious Roots

Because the thunderous applause that greeted this testimony made clear, gun tradition is essentially Christian tradition. To think about your self as a Good Man With a Gun, as Mr. Willeford invited N.R.A. members to do, might encourage action-movie day desires, however it’s in the end a spiritual imaginative and prescient of a world through which good and evil are at battle, the place God and firepower make all of the distinction.

The Good Man With a Gun is a spiritual fable so highly effective it has begun to rework the custom that bore it. When Consultant Lauren Boebert not too long ago quipped, “A whole lot of the little Twitter trolls, they wish to say ‘Oh, Jesus didn’t want an AR-15. What number of AR-15s do you assume Jesus would have had?’ Effectively, he didn’t have sufficient to maintain his authorities from killing him,” it was a joke meant to deride and dismiss costs of hypocrisy in opposition to followers of a person generally known as the Prince of Peace arming themselves to the hilt. But it was additionally a view into a captivating spiritual growth presently underway, one formed by an understanding that bullets might have prevented the sacrifice on the coronary heart of the Christian religion.

It could be a mistake to color the connection between firearms and religiosity with too broad a brush. The evangelical affect on the sale, use and advertising of firearms in the US doesn’t imply Christianity is at fault for the latest spate of shootings. In any case, in Buffalo, in Uvalde, in Tulsa, and this month at a church supper in Vestavia Hills, Ala., Christians have been among the many victims. Christian clergy members have rushed to each scene to consolation the survivors. Pals and households have gathered at Christian funerals to mourn the useless.

Because the historian Daniel Okay. Williams has noted, “Gun rights advocacy is just not an intrinsic function of each model of evangelicalism.” Whereas latest surveys discover that 4 in 10 white evangelicals personal weapons, the bulk don’t, and different denominational affiliations provide examples of spiritual participation discouraging a fixation on firearms. It’s potential that the much less one sees oneself as an itinerant loner in a hostile world, just like the armed preacher in a silent western, the much less one is more likely to look to weapons as a supply of salvation.

Nonetheless, the methods Christian concepts could also be contributing to a gun tradition that abets our epidemic of mass shootings by serving to to maintain the nation nicely armed ought to encourage reflection. Not one of the latest mass shootings had explicitly spiritual motivations, however the spiritual contexts of our seemingly everlasting downside with gun violence — its historical past, its theology, its myths — are too vital to disregard.

Mass shootings are, in a method, assaults on the thought of group itself. They happen the place there are folks gathered — for leisure, for studying, for purchasing, for worship — within the areas we create collectively. Some consider that such assaults are the fault of armed people alone and may be addressed solely by way of armed particular person response. Others consider they happen inside the framework of what we collectively enable and should have communal options.

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