by Major Chick Yuill –
The other week I made a brief but impassioned speech at the Rotary Club of Pasadena, where I am a member. The main speaker had just concluded her presentation and opportunity was given for questions or comments. Normally, I sit quietly at this point. But on this occasion I could not keep quiet. I rose to my feet, said what I feel deeply, and sat down. There was a moment’s silence and then from around the room applause broke out–not from everyone, but from a sufficient number to lead me to believe that my views are more widely held than might sometimes be imagined.
I ought to explain that the speaker was representing Women Against Gun Violence, and her words found an echo in my heart to such an extent that I had to give vocal support to her sane and sensible observations. So many members of Rotary have thanked me for what they felt to be honesty and courage that I am going to pin my colors to the mast here in New Frontier! Do you want to know what I think on the subject of guns and violence? Well here’s what I passionately believe:
I have no idea why any normal person–especially a Christian person–wants to keep a gun. The purpose of a gun is to inflict hurt on others. I cannot imagine Jesus keeping such a weapon in his home.
I cannot understand why anyone with an ounce of compassion for God’s creatures would ever want to kill an animal for ‘sport.’ I’m not a vegetarian and I do accept the killing of animals to provide food for humans. But that needs to be done as humanely as possible. I don’t ever want to keep the company of those who regard such a thing as ‘fun.’
I love America and I love Americans. But some aspects of life here are beyond my comprehension. One of the things I will never understand is the gun lobby. In an age when we witness such tragedies as Littleton, it’s time for Christian men and women–all people of goodwill and common sense–to stand firmly against their perverted reasoning. I believe the wrath of God will burn hot both against gifted actors who employ their eloquence to plead the cause of the gun lobby and against weak politicians who lack the moral courage to stand against such blandishments.
I agree with the Pope in his recent statement in which he insisted that if we are going to be pro-life in one area, we need to be consistent and pro-life in every area…
That’s why I stand firmly for the rights of the unborn child and against abortion on demand.
That’s why I will not join those who support the death penalty. I have seen too many miscarriages of justice to trust that responsibility to any human authority. If a man is unjustly imprisoned, you cannot give him back the years, but you can give him some monetary compensation. There is nothing you can do if he has been wrongly put to death.
That’s why I believe the way of non-violent resistance is ultimately far more effective than war. The problem with modern warfare is that the old principles of the ‘just war’ no longer match the situation. And, believe me, all the talk of ‘smart weapons’ is just that–talk. There is no bomb that is smart enough to change direction when it ‘sees’ a group of old people or children. The weak and the vulnerable always pay the greatest price in any war. Winston Churchill and I would disagree on many things! But he spoke the truth when he answered a critic who accused him of doing too much ‘jawing’ when he should be concentrating on hostilities. Churchill simply responded: “Jaw jaw is better than war war!”
If I haven’t made you so mad that you’ve stopped reading, let me say one last thing. I know that not all readers will agree with my convictions. I certainly acknowledge that better men and women than me have held quite different views to mine. And I have nothing but the greatest respect for those who have paid the ultimate price in military service. But there has always been a very strong strand of pacifism and non-violence within The Salvation Army that goes right back to no less an authority than Catherine Booth. I believe that to do justice to Scripture and to strengthen our prophetic voice to the world it is a strand of Christian thinking that this movement needs to rediscover. So there is no guarantee that I will not deliver a few more impassioned speeches–or New Frontier articles–in the days ahead!