Saturday, October 07, 2006

Guns, Games, and Theology

This term I'm taking a LCC class about pistols. It is mostly lecture, but includes three sessions at a shooting range. Afterwards I will be eligible for an Oregon concealed firearms permit.

I'm taking the class for two reasons.

The lesser reason is that I know studies have shown that when more people have a concelaed weapons permit then crime decreases. (This is when laws are not changed. Studies about the effects of changing gun laws on crime are a different issue.)

The more significant reason is that I am designing a science-fiction setting for use in a role-playing game. My wife and I used to enjoy role-playing games alot, but we had to stop a couple years ago when a minister I worked with became very upset about our use of a fantasy setting (of my own design) that included magic spells.

(I've written before about how scripture views magic: scroll down in this post. Fantasy magic involves fireballs and teleportation and invisibility: nothing like the magic discussed in scripture. But some people do not understand the difference, and scripture teaches a principle of stopping doing something if it might cause damage to someone's faith.)

So I want to do role-playing games with my wife, but cannot use a fantasy setting. After a couple years with little progress in designing a science-fiction role-playing game, I realized that I was hindered by my lack of knowledge about guns.

Is there a reason to use a revolver when a semi-automatic pistol is technologically available? In the future, would all rifles be rail guns? Why are so few fully automatic pistols manufactured or used?

How does accuracy change when using a gun you have never held before, compared to one you are used to? What about holding the gun with one hand versus two, or shooting with your weak hand, or shooting while walking?

Internet reseach provided partial answers to these and other questions, but I realized that doing a good job designing and moderating the game would also require some real experience with guns. Not much, but a little. As an analogy, only studying about riding a bicycle or playing a piano just is not the same...

This past week, there has been some speculation that America will follow Israel and Thailand in deterring school shootings by arming teachers. This prompted a surprising realization: I have no desire to have a gun at home for self-defense, but if the college asked for some teachers to be armed, I would not mind being one who did. The main reason seems to be that owning a gun at home for personal self-defense assumes I would need to use it; but being part of a group that was armed to deter crime assumes I would not need to use it.

In other words, I have no emotional aversion to owning a gun, just using it. This makes sense theologically. Part of really believing in an afterlife and a God who is a fair judge is that it makes both pacifism and killing others easier. Yeshua was clear about the balance he preferred: he taught his followers that it was okay to carry a sword, but to turn the other cheek.

UPDATE: For those curious, there have been "gun crimes" at LCC of a gun improperly stored in a vehicle or carried by someone illegally, but the campus has never seen a criminal with a drawn gun.