El Paso. Dayton. Some want to blame mental illness, when few of the mentally ill are killers. Some want to blame violent video games. If that were the case, many of my students would have mug shots in the newspaper. Some on the crazy train, like one Ohio politician, want to blame homosexuality and football kneelers. Huh?

Anything but the gun.

We hear renewed cries for gun control on one side and “thoughts and prayers” plus mental illness, on the other. I hope for improvements. About 90% of Americans want background checks. It’s not just liberal hippie leftovers from the ‘60s saying, “Let’s make love, not war.”


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We need such a reasonable measure. I would add that we don’t need assault weapons. If you need that to kill a deer, you need to find another sport. Self-defense? Again, how many need that degree of self protection? And all self-defense is limited. I once asked someone who wanted no restrictions, "Would you be okay with a neighbor who owned a nuclear bomb, as a ‘right to bear arms’?” He said yes. I had no words. We would be stuck in a constant state of the TV show "24," with Jack Bauer giving up any hope of capturing the weapons in time to save the world.

At this point, given how many weapons are out there, more guns than Americans, I wonder what measure would even work. People own powerful weapons already and I don’t think people would be up for a door-to-door search and confiscation of weapons. No, that wouldn’t happen.

Guns are big in this area. Hunting is popular. How many times have I had students write narratives about killing their first deer? Fine.

I have a complicated history with guns. They were never something I was raised around, in our strict Pentecostal home. My brothers were not even allowed to play with toy guns. Having gone camping years ago, however, with a small group of friends, I came to appreciate hunting. One friend, Dean, showed a great consideration for nature, a gentleness and respect for the environment. He didn’t fit my ignorant image of a drunk in hunter’s orange, looking to shoot everything. As long as the animal is used for food, not a trophy, I am fine with it.

The problem isn’t guns, per se, but our reliance on them. Faith that we can control our personal space if we just hold a Glock or a shotgun. I recall church friends who said that the Second Amendment is the most important amendment because it guarantees all the others. Their faith was in their guns. Not law. Not God. It was an absolute faith, with no room for limits.

I am not opposed to guns. I am opposed to our faith in them. It is a faith with plenty of collateral damage, including the blood of 40,000 victims last year in America, many from suicides. The guns that protect too often destroy.

Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is an English instructor.