In some branches of the military they instruct budding soldiers to revere their guns, to treat them with the same sort of reverence that one might to the Creator.

Gun collectors lock away or display their most prized possessions, concealed by glass and wooden shrines, their nameplates neatly naming each piece like a museum artifact. "Colt .45, circa 1883". Some gun collectors look lovingly at their gun cases with the same kind of expression that an expectant mother might have when she prays before a Catholic dais.

Some gang members hold their weapons to be like swords of old, their ever-present protection and security against a cold and savage world, their emblems of power and might for all to see, the last thing a victim might see.

They say that a gun, when pressed against your temple, can be a great motivator. "What could I do? He held a gun to my head." By the same token, God can be an unseen motivator the likes of which the world cannot imagine.

Two pounds or more of steel and plastic can be all the God a person ever needs in this life, the thing that serves as the pivotal and deciding factor in who lives and dies in any one of a hundred situations.

A gun cannot give life, but in the wrong hands it can be used to spare one- or take one.

Is it truly a necessity that guns should exist? Are we so uncivilized and savage that the many cultures of pre-processing and canned meats can justify a need to hunt with a Glock 9? I have yet to hear of someone having a shoot-out with a steer buck, nor do I suspect that there are many apes out there who are packing in the jungles of Africa.

A gun has only one purpose: to kill. A gun is not made merely to wound people. Practice targets, with their hit zones marked by numbers which are used in a scoring system, do not give a head-shot or center-mass zone low marks. A handgun, a fully automatic weapon or a sub-machine gun are not made for the sport of hunting anything in the natural world but other men- or women.

How can we, as a species, claim to be even remotely enlightened or civilized when we mass manufacture these machines, these lead-throwing instruments of death? Is our fascination with these "tools" one borne of our pride in human ingenuity or is it a sick reverie of destruction? Have we included a new idol, along with money and sex, in the form of a gun, another thing that we can place before our faith in God?

I understand that there are some very sick people out there in the world who have no qualms about using guns for criminal means. I am equally aware of the existence of hateful people who would like to witness or play party to the absolute destruction of an entire sub-set of humanity. As long as these people exist and are created, how can we as an entire species claim maturity? How can we say, with a clean conscience, that we are ready for peace when there are some of us who revel in violence?

God is not a gun. He does not hold a weapon to our heads and say, "My way. Or else." He does not destroy without purpose or clear justification. God is not the means of our demise.

But the NRA would have you think otherwise, wouldn't they?

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