Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

The Missing Piece in the Gun Debate

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Jan 21

Do you ever get the sense that fewer and fewer people are willing to address the root cause of big problems?

Take for example the fiscal state of America. Instead of cutting spending and tackling the crippling national debt, lawmakers raise taxes.

When it comes to education and struggling schools, rather than examining the curriculum or expanding parental choice, the immediate response is usually a call to increase the school district's budget.

Abortion or sexually transmitted disease rates rise -- and there's a chorus of individuals championing the free distribution of condoms in public schools.

And then there's the controversial matter of guns and Second Amendment rights.

On Wednesday, President Obama unveiled a broad agenda designed to curb gun violence. There were 23 separate executive actions offered.

Some say Congress should pass stricter gun control legislation. Others say video game makers should either tone-down or stop the production of violent content. Still others point to Hollywood and its gory films that glorify guns and other weapons.

It’s not my point today to critique the validity or merit of any of these issues. However, it has been my observation that largely missing from the on-going discussion about violent crime has been the matter of the health of our families -- where values are first “caught and taught” -- and the moral state of our society in general.

It's easier to blame other issues and people, to repeat what everybody else is talking about. It's a lot messier when you start pouring into the personal, examining matters of mental, social and spiritual health and try to figure out what motivates someone to kill innocent people.

In thinking about the real underlying cause of the recent wave of gun-related violence, I was reminded of a speech given by Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, back in 2011. Reflecting on the financial collapse in 2008, Mr. Cameron noted that many people blamed the faulty economic system and the greed of its people. Yet, upon final analysis, the prime minister suggested it wasn't a money problem that was to blame for the financial meltdown but a moral one:

For too long we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong. 'Live and let live' has too often become 'do what you please.' Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles. To be confident in saying something is wrong, is not a sign of weakness, it's a strength. ... We've got to stand up for our values if we are to confront the slow-moral collapse...

Make no mistake: Morality is -- or should be -- at the heart of the current debate. But when a culture advocates for moral neutrality, is it any wonder that bad things happen, however unintended?

The main reason we're disinclined to make hard choices is because, well, they're hard and difficult. But the hard road is often the best choice and the best choice is actually fairly easy to make when your values and morals are determined and well defined.

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