Shockingly, Friday’s horrific shooting in Connecticut wasn’t even the worst elementary school massacre in history. The worst happened in 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan. Read the story here. This was the third-worst massacre in US history–only 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were worse.
Everyone’s going to be talking about guns in the coming days. One side will call for tighter gun controls and for making it harder for such folks to obtain guns. The other will argue that armed citizens with gun rights and concealed-carry laws would have minimized the scope of the tragedy.
The Bath Township massacre is a historical object lesson that shows us why the entire debate that America is about to have will, I fear, completely miss the point.
It needs to be said again: the fundamental problem in Newtown, or Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or Bath Township was not laws or regulations or guns. Nor was the problem the lack of any of these things. Would gun control have prevented the Bath massacre? It was a bombing. Would an alert teacher’s firearm and concealed-carry permit have stopped the shrapnel? The bomb was pre-placed and timed–the murderer wasn’t even on the scene till the very end.
Sure, there are things government can do to promote public safety. The whole discussion over gun control might not be a total waste of time, but it won’t ever get to the heart of the issue. It’s basically an argument over whether to install fire extinguishers or a sprinkler system in a building that’s already on fire.
We can’t fix the problem of Bath and of Newtown. Sure, there are things we can do to reduce risks and limit the damage, but we can’t actually fix the root problem.
The problem is the human heart. It is deceitful, and desperately sick–who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) So, the only solution is a heart change. Murderers need to have their desires and longings and values replaced. And, of course, that’s impossible, isn’t it?
Sin is deadly, and Friday is yet another needless example of why. Sin needs to be taken seriously, and dealt with. That’s why we need to look above and beyond for answers and for hope. Hope in Christ, not in the laws and deeds of men.