Mass Shootings: Christian Perspective on Prevention and Reaction

I am posting this here over from a facebook status update I put up this morning that created a pretty lengthy conversation. Here is a little bit of my perspective on this. You can put armed guards all over the place and that will deter crime. That is on the prevention side of the equation. If you bring people to Christ and give them a place to belong/transform lives to be more Christ like, that is also on the prevention side and that gets deeper into the root causes of these things. You can also treat mental illness as preventative means. But you will never get everyone and you will never prevent everything. We can reduce these things (and have over the last 5 years as violent crime has gone down every year since 2007) but we will never eliminate them.

Second, we have to differentiate between addressing symptoms and addressing the actual problems. Armed guards and legislative action by the government are aimed at symptoms, not the actual underlying condition. You cannot legislate immoral people to be moral people. You cannot legislate the heart or spiritual transformation. When all you do is address symptoms instead of getting under the surface and address the real root causes you will be largely ineffective. It is like trying to dry up a runny nose when there is an allergen that is actually causing the nose to run. You keep going outside and playing in piles of leaves and keep taking your runny nose medication until you are blue in the face. It is just not an effective way to treat the real, underlying issue. There will be some effect, sure but it won’t be as big of an effect as we might desire.

Third, the church is the missing piece here. The church works on the prevention end (changing lives) and informs the reaction end (how do we present ourselves when these things happen). The church/Gospel can do more than slap bandaids on severe lacerations…we can and do change lives. I am sure there are names of people who would have done similar things as these mass murders but were reached by a Christian somewhere and got their lives turned back around.

Hopefully some of that perspective is helpful.