A sacrament is that which brings into being what it signifies. A handshake signifies friendship and it brings into being more friendship. An embrace signifies warmth, and it brings into being more warmth. The Sacrament of Reconciliation signifies forgiveness and it brings into being more forgiveness. The Eucharist signifies sacrificial love and it brings into being more sacrifice, more love.
A gun is an anti-sacrament. It signifies hatred and fear and shooting one, or practicing shooting one, brings into being more hatred, more fear, and always, always, more guns.
Clearly, the time has long since passed, if it ever existed, when private citizens could amass enough weapons to rise up against the tyranny of the government. Clearly, gun ownership simply allows us to arm ourselves against each other.
To own a gun is to live your whole life on high alert for a moment that, unless you’re a gang member, run a meth lab, work in organized crime, or have enlisted in the military, the overwhelming odds are will never come. It’s to stand eternally in front of the mirror like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and sneer at an imaginary foe, “Are you talking to me?”
To walk through the world quietly, peacefully, unarmed, is to live your whole life in freedom. Sure, someone may come along and randomly shoot you but a building might fall on you, a drunk driver might plow into your car, or you might be struck by lightning, too.
Sure, the violence our culture worships will continue to erupt in ever more berserk violence, most of it committed with guns. Meanwhile, though, you get to enjoy each moment to its fullest, secure in the knowledge that you will never, ever, either randomly or intentionally, shoot someone else.
If we want to live in a world where guns are not needed, we get to act as if we live in that world already.
That’s how we bring into being the Kingdom of God.
That’s how we begin to answer the call of Pope Francis: “No more war. War no more.”