Elgin is correct: the discussion usually revolves around the policing of either the item or the person. Yes, he is correct, partially, in pointing out the problems of enforcing any type of gun control. While his evidence is somewhat anecdotal, most evidences are in this regard. For instance, I know many, including myself, who use guns for nothing but hunting and would not think of stockpiling weapons in fear. Or, I know some people who have at one time or another suffered mental breakdowns and these people should never possess anything more deadly than a plastic straw. Unfortunately, Elgin’s point is a black-and-white dichotomy, and it is a severely falsely dichotomy.
Thus, his first solution, that of more guns, flies in the face of wisdom, logic, and reality. The best analogy to Elgin’s solution is this: to end AIDs, we give everyone AIDs instead of government programs designed at education and supplying protection. Or, with a more theological slant — to combat sin, we make everything sin so that no one recognizes the possibility of no sin. Are we supposed to carry guns in order to prevent the desperately few mental cases? This goes against the role of Government, the principles of “community,” and in many cases, would challenge economic and theological principles. Added to this is the Milgram experience whereby people are shown to be intrinsically open to suggestion and rather evil if they are convinced they do not have to suffer consequences.
Theologically, a vigilante populace, with the individual armed and ready to do battle, is against Scripture. In Romans 13, we are told that the governing authorities are the sword, the might. Elgin proposes that those carrying concealed weapons, against the sum total of human experience, would help to either defend or disarm shooters and wait for the police. This goes behind the duty of the individual to self-defense to co-oping the duties of the governmental sword. Further, this goes into self-offense. We need look no further than the excessive use of Florida’s “Stand your Ground Laws.” To force, under the banner of peace and safety, the citizenry to become the police is not something that we as a society are prepared for, or we as Christians should support.
One of the larger errors in my friends view is the idea that we can separate guns and people. We give soldiers guns to kill people; we arm police officers in the unlikely event they must shoot someone in the line of duty; and we would arm individuals by mandate with the intent to defend with extreme prejudice. If an architect designs a building that is faulty, we will blame not the building but the architect. If a doctor uses a medical procedure designed to kill people and succeeds, we will prosecute the doctor. The analogies are endless here, but can be summed up in this. We cannot easily separate the tools of destruction from the people who use them. Without assault weapons such as the ones used in Arizona, Colorado, and Connecticut, the murders if they would still be as such would not be mass murders. To pretend that some sort of separation exists between the person who pulls the trigger and the trigger connected to the hammer is to ignore an ontological reality, I fear.
My friend ends his statement by turning to the nature of sin in humans and, what is frankly, a cop-out. We can eliminate mass murder, or rather, reduce it to the point where we it is a shock rather than just another occurrence. Sin is a scar, but not the total of human nature. It is a sickness that can be contained by laws, but never cured. Our need to take, to kill, to enslave, to lust are things that can be limited through proper community responses, namely laws. We see this because we have ended slavery in this country, we have established property laws as well at anti-theft measures. We have put in place, in most places in this country, laws that will severely punish rape as well as have established educational programs on a national level that tackle the major issues of the day, such as rape, drunk driving, and a host of issues. Sin is not the totality of human nature — to strive for betterment is. Therefore, we recognize a problem exists and it is our better human nature that will create a path to either fix the problem or to limit the issues giving rise to the problem.