Yes, Guns Do Kill

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Guns are the most common instrument for murder and certainly the most likely instrument for mass murder. In fact, I have never heard of a mass murder being carried out with anything but an assault weapon or handgun, have you?

[Witness To Justice]

We’ve heard it said that "guns don’t kill people; people kill people."

While that is technically true, people could not kill other people unless they have the weapons to do so. This last weekend as news stories spread about the mass killings in Binghamton, New York, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Orting, Washington, we were stunned. How could this happen?

We shouldn’t be surprised; these kinds of incidents did not just happen this last weekend. Within the last month alone, four Oakland Police Officers were killed and eight people were killed in a Rehabilitation Home in Carthage, North Carolina. We need only look back over our recent past, and remember the tragic events at Virginia Tech and high schools across the nation, to be reminded that it seems to be turning into an American tradition.

While each of these stories is different from the other, there are some things the same. What is the same is that the people responsible for the mass killings had a cache of guns at their disposal; guns that fire repeatedly. The common thread is that the accused shooters were angry at someone, and wanted to take revenge for being rejected or disregarded. Some claim to have been a result of job loss or depression due to the economic situation. In at least half of these, the terrible tragedy was as a result of family violence, one of them leaving five innocent children dead.

What is common is that gunmen wear bulletproof vests when they charge onto the scene and begin shooting at everyone in sight. This is not a new problem for police. Unfortunately, one does not have to have a special license to buy body armor, nor is it necessary to run a background check. But, wouldn’t you be curious if someone came into your gun shop and bought a variety of guns, a bunch of ammunition and a bulletproof vest? Of course, we can’t just direct our questions to gun dealers, these products can be bought at a neighborhood garage sale, the internet, the local gun and knife show, or right on the street.

Some will argue that guns are not the only problem; that people are killed with other kinds of weapons.

No argument there, but let’s get real. Guns are the most common instrument for murder and certainly the most likely instrument for mass murder. In fact, I have never heard of a mass murder being carried out with anything but an assault weapon or handgun, have you? I’m sure that those who support gun ownership will agree that no responsible hunter would use an assault weapon to shoot an elk or a deer, certainly not a rabbit or a bird. Then why do we need assault type weapons at all because all they’re for is to kill people?

We know that the economic situation in this country is desperate.

We know that our rates of family violence are unacceptable. We know that the mental health care system in this country is broken. We know that putting a gun in the hands of a distressed person is dangerous. We should not be surprised when this combination of issues results in tragedy.


Jaramillo is a Minister with the United Church of Christ, which has more than 5,700 churches throughout the United States.

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