Guns use people, says Archbishop of Canterbury

By staff writers
December 23, 2012

In his final BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day before retiring, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has talked about the corruption of a gun-toting culture.

His comments were specifically tied to sorrow and regret for the recent killings in Connecticut, USA.

Dr Williams dismissed the argument often put forward by the National Rifle Association and other firearms advocates, that "it's not guns that kill, it's people".

He declared: "People use guns. But in a sense guns use people, too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action."

The archbishop acknowledged that "control of the arms trade, whether for individuals or for nations, won't in itself stop the impulse to violence and slaughter" but argued that restraint was important.

"If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target. If all you have is the child's openness and willingness to be loved, everything looks like a promise," he said.

"Control of the weapons trade is a start. But what will really make the difference is dealing with fear and the pressure to release our anxiety and tension at the expense of others. A new heart, a new spirit, as the Bible says; so that peace on earth won't be an empty hope."

In stark contrast to Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who put out a pre-Christmas tweet lauding military spending, Dr Williams declared: "In the new world which the newborn child of Christmas brings into being, weapons are not left to hang on the wall, suggesting all the time that the right thing to do might after all be to use them. They are decommissioned, knocked out of shape, put to work for something totally different."

Meanwhile Episcopal and other mainline churches in the USA have been lining up to encourage President Obama and the Senate to take action on gun control, while the NRA has expressed a desire to see a huge expansion of gun ownership.

* Read the full talk here:

* Research from Ekklesia on 'Thought for the Day':

* ‘Thought for the Day’: Beyond the god-of-the-slots:


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