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My Gun Control Conversion – A Preacher’s Position on the Orlando Mass Shooting

The massacre in Orlando at the gay nightclub over the weekend has left me, like so many, on an emotional roller coaster. I am heart broken one second and enraged the next. It has taken me some time to gather myself on even where to begin to discuss this situation. There is so much to say. First, I want to say how proud I am of my church, Sunnyside Baptist Church in Toccoa Georgia.

Entering church on Sunday, I was unaware of the shooting. It happened after I was asleep on Saturday, and getting the family ready for church, we did not turn on the tv on Sunday. In our morning worship service, we have a time where people can share prayer concerns, and we had a church member announce we needed to pray for the victims in Orlando. I pastor a theologically conservative church believing that homosexuality is against God’s word, but last Sunday, we knelt together to pray and lift up the LGBT community in Orlando and the loved ones affected by this horrific shooting. Disagreeing on moral issues does not have to equal hatred or bigotry. It doesn’t at Sunnyside and most other churches. I was proud to see my church show compassion and love to those in need, regardless of lifestyle.

Now, I am angry. I want to see action taken. After much careful thought and research, I am now a complete supporter of strict gun control laws. Before we go any further, I am a gun owner, and I still support gun control laws and so should you. Now, I know. I can hear many of you screaming at your screen right now. “People kill people not guns.” “A person can kill another with a rock or fertilizer or bare hands.” “It’s a heart problem not a gun problem.”

Those points have some merit. The heart problem is why I share the gospel of Jesus and encourage my parishioners to do the same. Yes, fertilizer can be made into bombs. That is a true threat, which is why the Government regulates ammonium nitrate purchasing. As for the rock, knives, and bare hands argument, yes they can kill, but not nearly at the rate of an AR-15 or other guns. Do you think the Orlando Shooter would have killed over four dozen people with a rock or knife?

Even the most staunch defender of the second amendment must admit, we have a gun violence problem in America.

A CBS study found, in the United States, you are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun than in other similarly developed countries. This study found that 10.2 out of every 100,000 people will be killed by a gun in the U.S. The next highest rate in this study, is Austria with a 3. A geographical comparison of the United States by NPR found that the gun death rate in the United States is higher than all 23 Western European countries, 2nd out of 21 Central and Eastern European countries, 8th out of 43 Sub-Saharan African countries, 3rd out of 19 Southeast and East Asia and Australiasian countries, and shockingly, 2nd out of North Africa and Middle Eastern countries. The only area where the United States fared decent was against the drug and gang overrun countries of Central and South America. Counties like Iran, Chile, Russia, Bosnia and Herzgovinia, Palestine, and Libya have lower gun related death rates than the U.S.

These studies are often attacked by anti-gun control people for “cherry picking” the countries involved in the studies. Take a special note of the NPR study from the previous paragraph that compares the U.S. to other countries geographically. It’s hard to cherry pick that many, but anti-gun control people argue about how does someone decide what a “developed” country is? To appease this group. I did some research using the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
I examined the 49 countries that scored as highly developed, which includes the United States. I did not find gun related death statistics on 9 of the 49 Countries (Ireland, Liechtenstein, Macau, Brunei, Andorra, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Baharain), but of the 40 highly developed countries for which I could find statistics, the United States had the highest gun related death rate at 10.2 out of 100,000. The closest to America was Argentina with 6.46 and Montenegro at 8.91. Most countries were 3 or under.

These stats were found using the United Nations 2015 Human Development Index report, and the NPR article referenced above as well as numerous articles from www.gunpolicy.org.

To put this into perspective you have the same chance of dying from a lightning strike in the U.S. as in a homicide by gun in Japan, or from hypothermia in the U.S. as in a homicide by Gun in France, or falling from a ladder in the U.S. as in a homicide by gun in New Zealand…this would be funny if it wasn’t true.

By any logical comparison, the United States gun related death rate is horrifically high.

To go along with the high gun related death rate in America, in the last 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reported on 28 mass shootings, which is almost 3 a year! If these numbers do not have your jaw on the floor, then you have become desensitized to gun violence because the U.S. has so much of it!

It is time for action. Are you aware of what gun control laws did in Australia?

In an 18 year period, 1979-1996, Australia had 13 mass shootings. After the 13th of those mass shootings which took place in Part Arthur, Australia enacted strict gun control laws in 1996. They have now gone 20 years without a mass shooting. Gun related homicides have also fallen by 72%. By any estimation, it has been a huge success. Could you imagine 20 years in America without a mass shooting?

Also, it is very important to note that Australians did not lose the right to bear arms. You can still legally purchase and own fire arms.  Here is a website that will show you what Australians have to do to purchase guns. It is all reasonable. There is no responsible and law abiding citizen in Australia that will be significantly impacted by the gun control restrictions, but do you know what was impacted by this gun control? Mass shootings! They have not had one since the gun control laws were passed in 1996!

Need more evidence that gun control works.  Here is a recent study on 3 European countries and their respective gun control laws.  Austria in 1997, Belgium in 2006, and Switzerland in 2003, all enacted some form of gun control. Gun suicide rates and gun homicide rates went down in each country. This study found that suicide in particular is an impulsive act and with guns being less available was dramatically impacted.

The United States has a gun violence problem whether it mass shootings, homicides, suicides, or just a gun accident. Gun control has been in effect in Australia for 20 years, Austria for 19, Belgium for 10, and Switzerland for 13. Australia has had zero mass shootings, and the European Countries have seen a dramatic fall in gun related deaths.

Gun control laws have zero impact, I am sorry a waiting period or background check is of no consequence when compared to mass shooting casualties, on responsible law abiding citizens. They can still own firearms, but gun control has had a huge impact on mass shootings and gun related death rates. That is a fact backed by years and years of data from 4 countries.

I am unapologetically pro-life. My pro-life stance not only applies to abortion. It is why I am against the death penalty also, and it is now, why I am unapologetically pro-gun control. I do not see how a person can look at the last 20 years in Australia and last weekend in Orlando and still be against gun control.

Truly, Jesse Colbert

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