When we were in Germany I would often ask, if the occasion arose, what my German friends thought were the aftereffects of the war on Germans themselves. Invariably I would get a very mournful response. The Germans I spoke to were horrified by what their countrymen had unleashed on the world. They wondered what was wrong with them as a nation and as a people that could have allowed such things to happen. They vowed that after such devastation and collective agony of self-recrimination that they would never be the authors of such atrocities again. The history of post war Germany seems to bear that out.

Japan went through a similar period of self-examination, leading to an avowal never to possess atomic weapons, although they clearly have the brains and the technology to do so. So where is America’s conscience? How can suffer their nation to be so systemically violent and not see the ramifications of their thinking?

What happened in Newtown is not an isolated incident; it is simply one more tragedy in a history of violence. The nation was born in war and their history is one of conquest of territory and the acquisition of what once belonged to others. Movies, television shows and video games extoll violence as the solution to every problem. There are 300 million guns in America, almost enough for every man woman and child in the country. The United States is the world’s leading exporter of arms to the rest of the world, selling $8.6 billion worth in 2010. Last year the industry topped $30 billion and in a time of economic recession grew by 30% from 2008 to 2011. This year is not yet over and already the FBI have conducted 16.8 million background checks for weapons purchases, some of which will be for multiple guns.

The real tragedy of what happened in Newtown is not that 20 little children died, but that their deaths simply go to fuel the arms and entertainment industries that are quite literally making a killing on the slaughter of innocents. In the first four days following the July mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., gun sales increased 41 percent. On Friday some pro-gun groups took to Twitter urging people to buy guns: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted “more guns, less mass shootings” in the wake of the event. Where does this insanity end? Are we witnessing the destruction of America at the hands of its own twisted gun laws?

In Scripture we read “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” Why? Because only God can administer that kind of justice without destroying Himself in the process. The same passage (Rom. 12:21) goes on to advise: “Do not be overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is not just good spiritual advice, but it is actually the way out of this dilemma. Ann Coulter and the NRA would have Americans believe that if the young woman who confronted the shooter in this tragedy had been carrying a weapon, the outcome would have been different. Really?

Suppose young Victoria Soto had a weapon. Would she have known what to do with it? Chances are the shooter, having just killed two dozen people, would have been a little quicker on the trigger and she would be dead. Not only that, he would have been enraged and emboldened to keep going. After all, there is nothing like a little competition to sharpen the killer instinct. But instead she met him unarmed. She had just hidden all her kids in her classroom and then simply told him they were elsewhere. He shot her, and moments later shot himself. Why? The school wasn’t surrounded by the police. There was nothing between him and several dozen more killings. Was it her innocence that finally overcame his rage; her patent good in the face of his evil? Surely this is how Scripture teaches us to act. Surely this is the way to overcome the violence gripping America. Not more guns.

(For an insight into the psychopathology involved, see: http://thebluereview.org/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother/)