By Dr. Jim Ferguson

Medical decisions are relatively straightforward because they emerge from facts and reason rather than emotion. We all have emotional and rational aspects of our personality, but errors often result when important decisions are driven by passion.

It may be risky to discuss the topic, but the passionate debate of gun control after the Florida school shooting swirls around us. Student survivors, understandably, cry out for gun control. Personally, I have no use for what has been labeled an “assault rifle” such as the AR-15. However, I believe in the rule of law and the Second Amendment. You should read it. And you might be surprised to learn that assault weapons were banned in the US between 1994 and 2004. During this period there was no difference in the number of murders.

It is surprising that so many people (including US Senators) apparently don’t understand the difference between a semi automatic and a fully automatic weapon. So-called machine guns (fully automatic weapons), like the Thompson submachine gun carried by Tom Hanks in the movie Saving Private Ryan, have been banned since the 1930s, except in the military. These weapons continue to fire as long as the trigger is pulled or until the gun is empty. My 9mm pistol, like the AR-15, is a semi automatic firearm. These weapons fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, unless the semi automatic rifle is modified by a bump stock converter.

More disturbing than anything I’ve heard in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy is that the murderer was brought to the attention of the FBI twice in the months prior to the shooting, and nothing was done. A chief function of government is to protect citizens, and the FBI, the preeminent law force in the US, did not protect the Parkland students. Nor have the police and our leaders been able to stop the nightly murderous carnage in Chicago or NYC.

Every tyranny in history has begun by taking the means of self defense away from individuals. If you doubt me, research my contention. You may be surprised to learn that FBI statistics in 2015 showed 1,544 murders committed by knives, 624 by hands/feet, 437 by blunt objects and 252 by rifles such as an AR-15.

There are 300 million guns in the US. Many people don’t own a gun, and others like me own several. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find any statistics on the number of guns possessed by criminals. It is unrealistic (and unconstitutional) to advocate getting rid of guns in the US. Our heritage is one of self protection in partnership with governmental agencies such as the police. We have laws to prevent gun sales to the mentally ill and criminals. Unfortunately, terrorists and criminals are not law abiding and will always find a way to obtain a weapon to empower their nefarious schemes or to protect themselves from their lawless comrades.

Recently, a commentator asked whether guns are different now than fifty years ago? I don’t remember school and church shootings when I was a boy. I think the real difference is that our civilization has devolved. Violent video games and Hollywood chainsaw movies cheapen life and make killing a game instead of real. And we removed the Moral Law of God from schools in 1962, substituting in His place relativism, situational ethics and now political correctness.

When is the last time you read the First or Second Amendments? The first ten amendments to the Constitution are the Bill of Rights which guarantee the rights of individual citizens. We hear much about the right to bear arms and separation of church and state. Did you know the latter is not in the Constitution? You doubt me? Read the Constitution and show me my error. As relates to religion, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

In a 1947 Supreme Court case, Justice Hugo Black coopted a phase from a letter written in 1800 by President, Thomas Jefferson, to Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut.  Jefferson wanted to assure them that the United States was not going to establish a state religion such as existed in England. Jefferson felt that “religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God.” Thus Jefferson advised a philosophical “wall of separation between Church and State.” Activist and SCOTUS seem to read the establishment part of the First Amendment and ignore the latter governmental prohibition of “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.

So, where do we go from here? I believe in the rule of law just as I believe in individual freedoms which are protected by the law. Without laws the strongest person or the guy/gal with the biggest stick is the master. Similar abuses are possible in a democracy. A tyranny of the majority is exemplified by two wolves and a sheep deciding what they’re going to have for supper.

Our American Republic is a form of government predicated on the rule of law. The founders of the United States understood the historical abuses of democracy. Benjamin Franklin said, when asked what type of government the Founders had fashioned for the new country, “It’s a republic madam, see if you can keep it.”

I also believe in consequences for those who break the laws of our land. Too often it seems there are no consequences for disobeying the law either in the hood or in Washington. And it’s not enough to go on a TV show and cry to say you’re sorry. Dishonest FBI agents, those politically motivated in the Justice and State Departments, and the sleazy IRS and VA employees must be brought to man’s justice.

I will leave you with several quotes to consider as the way forward for our country. The first comes from John Adams who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And Dwight Eisenhower said, “Recognition of the supreme being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Without God, there could be no American form of government.”

Great leaders show us the way; we just need the courage to follow this advice and that of the Chronicler who shows us the way to heal our broken land (2 Chronicles 7:14).