John Snyder, a member of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, a group that honors the “gun saint” brags that he is designated the “senior rights activist in Washington” by Shotgun News. Snyder recently published a news release on the Christian News Wire saying “we must be armed to fight the Islamists.”
Snyder attempts to argue for the use of handguns on the basis that we are under threat from terrorists. It is the same piggyback and fear-mongering argument used by radical Tea Partiers and scions of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller to propagate the conspiracy of Muslim menace and threat. The fact is you are more likely to be hit by lightning, killed in a car crash, drowning, fire, or murder than to be killed by a terrorist in America. From Reason Magazine,
But how afraid should Americans be of terrorist attacks? Not very, as some quick comparisons with other risks that we regularly run in our daily lives indicate…in 2003 about 45,000 Americans died in motor accidents out of population of 291,000,000. So, according to the National Safety Council this means your one-year odds of dying in a car accident is about one out of 6500. Therefore your lifetime probability (6500 ÷ 78 years life expectancy) of dying in a motor accident are about one in 83.
What about your chances of dying in an airplane crash? A one-year risk of one in 400,000 and one in 5,000 lifetime risk. What about walking across the street? A one-year risk of one in 48,500 and a lifetime risk of one in 625. Drowning? A one-year risk of one in 88,000 and a one in 1100 lifetime risk. In a fire? About the same risk as drowning. Murder? A one-year risk of one in 16,500 and a lifetime risk of one in 210. What about falling? Essentially the same as being murdered. And the proverbial being struck by lightning? A one-year risk of one in 6.2 million and a lifetime risk of one in 80,000. And what is the risk that you will die of a catastrophic asteroid strike? In 1994, astronomers calculated that the chance was one in 20,000. However, as they’ve gathered more data on the orbits of near earth objects, the lifetime risk has been reduced to one in 200,000 or more.
What are the odds of dying in a terrorist attack?
So how do these common risks compare to your risk of dying in a terrorist attack? To try to calculate those odds realistically, Michael Rothschild, a former business professor at the University of Wisconsin, worked out a couple of plausible scenarios. For example, he figured that if terrorists were to destroy entirely one of America’s 40,000 shopping malls per week, your chances of being there at the wrong time would be about one in one million or more. Rothschild also estimated that if terrorists hijacked and crashed one of America’s 18,000 commercial flights per week that your chance of being on the crashed plane would be one in 135,000.
Even if terrorists were able to pull off one attack per year on the scale of the 9/11 atrocity, that would mean your one-year risk would be one in 100,000 and your lifetime risk would be about one in 1300. (300,000,000 ÷ 3,000 = 100,000 ÷ 78 years = 1282) In other words, your risk of dying in a plausible terrorist attack is much lower than your risk of dying in a car accident, by walking across the street, by drowning, in a fire, by falling, or by being murdered.
For Snyder and his ilk these facts obviously don’t matter. Why let facts get in the way when you need to drudge up support for liberal gun laws? Can we say that Snyder is motivated by religious sentiment and that he in fact feels that he is religiously obligated to own a gun?
In his “news release” Snyder writes,
Snyder warned, “Those who work against this freedom in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere should beware. If it so happens that people are murdered because politically correct elitists spoke and worked successfully to prevent citizens from getting, carrying and using self-defense guns, the blood of the innocent will be on their hands.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that, ‘A man without a sword must sell his cloak and buy one,’ according to Luke (22:36). It’s time to take all of His words to heart.”
Ominous words from Snyder, but does this comport with Christian teaching? Is the old song, “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition” on the mark? Imagine if a Muslim had said something similar about Muslim teaching requiring Muslims to own guns, there would be no doubt that individuals in the media and the usual anti-Muslim suspects would be saying that this is the correct interpretation of the religion and therefore Islam is a violent Faith.