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Monday, March 19, 2012

RTD Faith and Values Op/ED on Virginia Tech and Handgun Rationing

The Richmond Times Dispatch ran this Op/Ed in Saturday's Faith and Values section, asserting that the repeal of Virginia's handgun rationing law is "at odds with Tech tragedy."  I guess the author made the connection between the two because the Virginia Tech wrongful death trial was taking place in Christiansburg last week.  Never mind the fact that the Tech shooter abided by the "one gun-a-month" law in purchasing his two firearms.  Craig Anderson, the author, is a psychologist and the director of counseling services at Randolph-Macon College. 
In the season of Lent, as we approach Easter, I find myself reflecting upon Matthew 26:51-52 and the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into his place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

This is a lesser story in the arc of the Easter week drama. Nonetheless, it is not without relevance to the commonwealth of Virginia.
Anderson goes on to applaud the fact that the General Assembly decided to table bills that would expand the death penalty but lamented the fact that the Assembly passed a number of pro-rights bills, including a repeal of handgun rationing, which has already been signed by Governor McDonnell. 
If any state should be sensitive to the role that guns often play in the service of horrendous crimes, it should be Virginia. If there was ever an occasion that spoke — that cried — for the need of gun reform, it was the Virginia Tech massacre.

Yet five years later, after the Governor's Review Panel, the legal wrangling and all the political posturing — to say nothing of the direct pleas of Tech survivor Colin Goddard and the parents of several victims to McDonnell — access to guns (the means) in 2012 has become easier in Virginia.
Anderson closes by revisiting the reference to the the New Testament, where Jesus tells the disciples to carry swords, then muses that it may have been to teach a lesson in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Dave Kopel, Research Director, Independence Institute, has written on the subject of using the New Testament for the purpose of pushing pacifism, and specifically references the same passage that Anderson used to make his point at the end of the Op/Ed.
Putting the passage from Matthew in the context of the rest of the Bible would, therefore, look to the passage as a warning against violence as a way of life, rather than as a flat-out ban on defensive violence in all situations.
Kopel writes that using the New Testament to illustrate a pacifist view is a very weak argument.  The same can be said of the Tech tragedy as proof we need to keep rationing handguns.

This is the second Op/Ed in the last month that used a religious reason for opposing repealing handgun rationing.  Below is NRANews coverage of the first:

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