‘Double-barreled foolishness’ regarding guns is no laughing matter

June 18, 2014 

Historically, it’s quite amazing what court jesters could get away with in regards to offering biting criticism while making their kingly patrons laugh or grimace.

A jester’s primary task was to entertain and bring an air of levity to the gatherings of kings and cohorts. Yet they were often given license to offer sharp criticism and advice that challenged those in power, albeit clothed in joke and wit. The jester’s voice usually reflected a deep concern for the general welfare of the common folk, or as one writer put it, jesters had the freedom to alert both kings and popes of their “moral halitosis.” Biblical prophets functioned in a similar way, calling the powerful back into ethical and faithful leadership using biting humor and wit in the name of God.

One of cable TV’s court jesters, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show,” recently took the powerful National Rifle Association’s promotion of gun ownership humorously to task, attempting to show that the NRA’s emperor had no clothes. In light of the persistent work to allow for the arming of every citizen and the right to carry and bear arms in public with no real regulation, the NRA’s concurrent promotion of Stand Your Ground laws has left all American citizens with an odd dilemma.

One person’s right to carry guns anywhere bumps up against any other person’s right to shoot to kill whenever he or she feels threatened. Freedom to carry comes up against the right to defend self and not back down. It seems a perfect circle of open warfare. For a moment, even the NRA saw the foolishness, that is, until pressured to retract their public comments about the nonsensical practice of openly carrying weapons into business establishments.

As a gun owner, I can support the right to own guns. As a citizen, I can support the need for rules and regulations of such weaponry to protect both family and the public. As a Christian, however, I cannot understand why it’s the voice of much of American Christianity that so rabidly defends both over-the-top policies, each of which are antithetical and incompatible with Christian teaching and witness.

Stewart made great fun of the double-barreled foolishness being promoted regarding guns, but in truth and in the end, it really is no jest, and tragically, no laughing matter.

Kim Latterell can be reached by email at latterka@plu.edu.

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