School Shootings; the Solution Is Both

Ikki Soma

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And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” Isaiah 2:4

My younger daughter has a friend who has been her “setter” for three consecutive seasons of club volleyball. This morning I learned that the high school her friend attends was placed on lockdown. When I saw the news, my heart skipped a beat. I wondered, Was there a shooting at her school? It turned out that there was only a threat of a possible shooting; school officials were exercising caution. My heartbeat stabilized.

School shootings are not new. They have been recorded in the annals of U.S. history for almost 200 years. But the recent mass shootings at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech University, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have brought such widespread horror that we cringe at even the possibility.

In the wake of these recent tragedies, politicians, celebrities, and lay leaders have put forth their solutions to the problem. Even leaders of faith communities weigh in. Some Christians say, “We don’t need gun control, we only need the Holy Spirit’s control. Only God can change hearts.” Some quote the Second Amendment as if the Apostle Paul himself wrote it. On the other end of the spectrum are Christians who believe that no one - not even law enforcement - should possess firearms. They believe that the laws must be changed and there must be stricter gun control. So there are two views: (1) hearts need to be changed or (2) laws need to be changed.

Why can’t the solution be both? In Isaiah 2, we get a glimpse into life under the reign of Jesus Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. In the Kingdom, we not only see hearts changed “that we may walk in His paths” (v. 3), but we also see His law come forth and the interpretation and application of His law. “For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations.” (vs. 3-4) Because of this, we don’t see weapon control but ultimately weapon destruction. “And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” (v. 4) I love the picture of turning weapons into farming tools. 

So, if we believe in the already-not-yet Kingdom, then we should be advocating for both the change of hearts and the change of laws, not either/or, but both/and.

Romans 13:3-4 tells us that one of the functions of government is to protect its citizens from evil. God has given the government both authority (13:1-3) and power (13:4) to limit evil and protect its citizens. But the Church has been given the authority to make disciples of Jesus and thereby see hearts changed. If we want to see a decrease in school shootings, it will take a change of both hearts and laws. And in a preview of the Kingdom, you just might see a farmer harvesting a bountiful crop with what used to be an AR-15