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America’s Greatest Orator


 

 

Vol.12, No. 5 TheBaptistVineLine.com October-December 2013

 

 

By J. J. Burnett.

 

 

Dr. Graves was born in Chester, Vermont, April 10, 1820. He was the son of Z. C. Graves, a well-to-do merchant, and a grandson of a French Huguenot who “fled to America,” after most of his ancestors “had perished” in the persecution which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantes. His mother was the granddaughter of a distinguished German physician and scholar by the name of Schnell. Dr. Graves was the youngest of three children. President Z. C. Graves, of the Mary Sharpe College, was an older brother, and Mrs. L. M. Marks was his sister.

 

 

The loss of his father by sudden death, when young Graves was only three weeks old, and the subsequent loss, to the widow and children, of an estate involved in a partnership business, were seemingly unfortunate events, but proved in the end to be “blessings in disguise”; the youngsters, of necessity, were brought up to work and save, and formed habits of self-reliance.

 

 

At the age of fifteen James was converted and baptized, uniting with a Baptist church in Vermont. In his nineteenth year he was elected principal of the Kingsville Academy, in Ohio, where he remained and taught for two years. He then went to Kentucky and took charge of Clear Creek Academy, near Nicholasville.

 

 

Uniting with Mount Freedom Church, Kentucky, he was “licensed” to preach, but without his knowledge or consent. For so great a work, he felt himself wholly unqualified. But he believed in preparedness for any calling and in hard work as an essential to success.

 

 

He was notably a self-educated, self-made man. For four years he gave six hours a day to teaching and eight hours to private study, covering a college course without a teacher, and mastering a modern language each year. Meanwhile he was digging into his Bible, with great

admiration for Paul as a model preacher, and purposing in his heart to be himself a preacher when he should be “qualified” for a calling so high and holy.

 

At the age of 24 he was called to ordination and set apart to the work of the ministry, Dr. Dillard, of Kentucky, being chairman of the “council” and preacher of the ordination sermon. July 3, 1845, at the age of 25, he came to Nashville and opened, in a rented building, the “Vine Street Classical and Mathematical Academy,” joining “by letter” the First Baptist Church. In the fall of the same year he took charge of the Second (now the Central) Baptist Church, served the church one year as pastor, but declined further service, in order to become associated with Dr. R. B. C. Howell as one of the editors of The Baptist.

 

 

His connection with the paper was editorially announced November 21, 1846, as follows: “We have the pleasure of announcing to our readers that the committee of publication have, at length, succeeded in procuring the services of an assistant editor for this paper, whom we here introduce in the person of our beloved Brother J. R. Graves, the indefatigable and successful pastor of the Second Baptist Church in this city. Brother Graves is already favorably known to many of you as an eloquent speaker and a very handsome writer.”

 

 

This was the beginning of an editorial career which lasted nearly half a century. As editor, Dr. Graves wielded a facile and a pungent pen, and week after week, did a prodigious amount of editorial and other work. When he took charge of The Baptist he was only locally known, and his paper had about 1,000 subscribers: at the beginning of the Civil War it had attained the largest circulation, it was claimed, of any Baptist paper in the world and no man in the South was more widely known than its editor, or had a greater influence upon the denomination.

 

 

In addition to editing and publishing his great paper he edited a monthly, a quarterly and an annual, besides editing hymnbooks for our churches and the great numbers of standard works issued from the presses of the Southwestern Publishing House; such as Robinson’s History of Baptism, Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, Orchard’s History of Foreign and English Baptists, Moses Stuart On Baptism, and other similar works – a character and volume of literature that necessarily influenced in a marked degree the thinking, the pulpit teaching and the denominational life of the Baptist people.

 

 

As author, he wrote and published, among other works, the following: The Desire of All Nations, The Watchman’s Reply, The Trilemma, The First Baptist Church in America, The Little Iron Wheel, The Great Iron Wheel, The Bible Doctrine of the Middle Life, The Exposition of Modern Spiritism, Old Landmarkism–What Is It?, and The Work of Christ in Seven Dispensations. Most of these works, as nearly all of his writings, were of a controversial nature and exerted a distinct influence wherever read.

 

 

As an organizer and promoter of Baptist interests he originated the first ministers’ institute in the State, and perhaps in the South, to train and equip pastors and help young ministers who were unable to attend theological schools. Without salary, or other compensation, he raised funds for the endowment of a theological chair in Union University, and without “fee or reward” he solicited and collected funds and other equipment with which to start the Mary Sharpe College–and drafted its “admirable curriculum.”

 

 

In 1848 he planned and set on foot the Southwestern Publishing House, Nashville, for the publication and dissemination of a sound Baptist literature, and later was instrumental in establishing the Southern Baptist Sunday School Union. Both these institutions did great good, and promised large success, but were destined to be destroyed by the Civil War.

 

 

In 1870 he submitted to the Big Hatchie Association the plan and constitution of a Southern Baptist Publication Society, and, in 1874, turned over to the society $130,000 in cash and bonds; but the financial crisis which followed, and other adverse conditions, wrecked the society’s plans

and caused its suspension.

 

 

As a logician and thinker, he was masterful and lucid, possessing in a high degree the gift which enabled him to so state his propositions that they came from his lips or pen with the force of axiomatic principles or self-evident truths. A judge in the city of Memphis, lecturing the bar on the importance of a clear statement of propositions, said: “The gift is as rare as genius, but may be cultivated. Of living ministers I know of no one who possesses it in a higher degree than Dr. Graves of the First Baptist Church in this city. He lays down his propositions so clearly that they come with the force of axioms, that need no demonstration – you can see all through and all around them.” (Borum)

 

 

As a polemic, controversialist, debater, Dr. Graves was a master. He was quite certain that he, and every other divinely called Baptist preacher was set for the defense as well as the propagation of the truth, that he was directly commissioned by the great Head of the Church to contend earnestly for the faith delivered “once for all” to the saints; and this he did amidst shot and shell from every quarter throughout a stormy life. His conviction in regard to truth and duty forced him to unsheath the sword-”the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” against the Lord’s enemies, against error and the sword was never sheathed; he fell fighting.

 

 

Dr. Graves had something like a dozen public oral discussions with representatives of other denominations, the last one, “The Graves-Ditzler Debate,” being a two weeks’ discussion with Dr. Jacob Ditzler, a professional debater of the Methodist persuasion. The debate was published, making a volume of several hundred pages, and was widely read. This contest has been called the “battle of the giants;” in it Dr. Graves fully sustained his reputation for fairness and scholarship, for ability and skill as a debater, and again proved himself to be a fearless, peerless and successful champion of Baptist and New Testament orthodoxy. He did not lend himself and his great powers to sarcasm and invective, vices all too common in polemical discussion. His one serious purpose was the refutation of error by correct interpretation of the Scriptures and sound reasoning. He would be courteous toward his opponent, but not at the expense of loyalty to Christ. He esteemed loyalty to Christ and his truth, above everything else, a cardinal virtue in a Christian minister.

 

 

He found no Scripture which commanded him to love error, or tolerate false doctrine; and if in his zeal for the truth and in the heat of debate he failed to exemplify perfectly the apostolic injunction to speak the truth “in love” (which is ideal), and if in his effort to cut off the head of error with the sword of truth he decapitated the errorist at the same time– that only proves that he was “human.”

 

 

The truth is, that while Dr. Graves could not make much allowance for the teachers of error he very greatly sympathized with the common people who, blindfolded, were led into the ditch by their “blind guides.”

 

 

The spirit and bearing of Dr. Graves, among his brethren and elsewhere, also his appearance and marked personality, are justly represented in the following newspaper reports of The Nashville American: “On the rostrum sits Dr. Graves; upon whose forehead is stamped strength, activity and vim, whose power from the press and pulpit is felt and acknowledged all over the Southwest; a man on whose every lineament is strongly marked immobility and stern inflexibility, driving with ungloved hand his Damascus blade into the vitals of error–a bold and fearless defender of the faith; yet gentle and meek as a child.” One of the most quiet and unassuming men in the convention is the great Landmark champion and upholder of the most strictly Baptist principles, Dr. J. R. Graves, formerly of this city but now of Memphis, editor and proprietor of The Baptist.

 

 

In personal appearance Dr. Graves is about five feet ten inches high, will weigh about 160 pounds, and has a fine face with a well-balanced head. His dark and almost black eyes show the true ring of metal, his fine brow and broad forehead give evidence (from the phrenologist’s point

of view) of a more than ordinary brain, his finely chiseled nose marks him as a man possessed of penetrating thought, indomitable zeal and energy, his mouth is expressive of sublime sentiments, and upon the whole his physiognomy indicates great reasoning ability.

 

 

His discourse, full of unction, full of logic, was eloquent and convincing.” “ As an orator, he is very powerful, and as a writer he unites strength, pointedness and clearness. He is fearless and boldly avows his sentiments and opinions, though they may differ much from those of others. “He has a wonderful command over his audiences, holding them spellbound for hours at a time. He uses no clap-trap, no trick of oratory, no prettiness of speech, but he is deeply in earnest, utters the strong convictions of his own mind and carries his hearers with him as by the force of a tornado.

 

 

Teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, statesmen, as well as the illiterate, all go to hear him, and bow before his power. Men bitterly prejudiced and hating him, hear him and are fascinated, go away resolved never to hear him again, but break their vows and hear him as often as they have opportunity.

 

 

His sermons are mostly doctrinal and as a rule strongly controversial. He is a great preacher, in the best sense of the word.” Controversial as he was and with all his fierce antagonism to error, he was nevertheless a gospel preacher in the fullest sense of the term. He never failed to emphasize the vital doctrines of grace and the necessity of the new birth. As in ancient times, “all roads led to Rome.” So in Dr. Graves’ preaching, “all roads,” led to Christ and the plan of salvation.

 

 

Great crowds went great distances to hear him, not altogether or mainly through curiosity, not because he was personally magnetic, which he was, but because they wanted to hear a man who was master of great subjects as well as of assemblies, discuss the great doctrines of the Word of God. The writer, [or J. J. Burnett, HLW] when a boy, went thirty miles to see and hear J. R. Graves, of The Tennessee Baptist and the Great Iron Wheel, and listened closely to a two hours’ sermon, a part of the time standing.

 

 

It is not generally known, I believe, that Dr. Graves was a specially gifted revivalist; and it is of record, however, that in his earlier ministry and before he was thirty years old, he had witnessed, in special meetings and under his immediate ministry, more than thirteen hundred conversions.

 

 

We have spoken of Dr. Graves as the author and recognized champion of a system of teaching known as “Old Landmarkism.” The system, the author claims, is contained, expressly or by necessary inference, in the New Testament Scriptures, and consists of ten distinct points of doctrine, constituting, like the ten commandments, an organic whole, so that, in the author’s view, to “break one” is to “break all.”

 

 

The title of the little book [i.e., Old Landmarkism, HLW] was suggested by two Old Testament Scriptures, “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set” (Solomon), and “Some remove the old landmarks” (Job.). I let Dr. Graves state the points himself, since his book is before me. At the close of chapter XI he asks the question,

 

 

What is the mission of Landmark Baptists? and his Tenfold Answer constitutes the substance of Old Landmarkism:

 

 

(1) As Baptists we are to stand for the supreme authority of the New Testament as our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. This is the distinguishing doctrine of our denomination.

 

 

(2) As Baptists we are to stand for the ordinances of Christ as he enjoined them upon his followers, unchanged and unchangeable till he come.

(3) As Baptists we are to stand for a spiritual and regenerated church, the motto on our banner being, Christ before the church, blood before water.

 

 

(4) To protest, and to use all our influence, against the recognition on the part of Baptists of human societies as scriptural churches, by affiliation, ministerial or ecclesiastical, or by any alliance, etc., that could be interpreted as putting such societies on an equality with Baptist churches.

 

 

(5) To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of the divine origin and sanctity of the churches of Christ, their unbroken continuity, etc.

 

 

(6) To preserve and perpetuate the divine, inalienable and sole prerogatives of a Christian church,

 

(a) to preach the gospel,

 

(b) To select and ordain her own officers,

 

(c) to control, absolutely her own ordinances.

 

 

(7) To preserve and perpetuate the scriptural design of baptism, and its validity and recognition only when scripturally administered by a gospel, church.

 

 

(8) To preserve and perpetuate the true design and symbolism (of the Lord’s Supper, as a local church ordinance, and for but one purpose–the commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ, and not as a denominational ordinance, etc.

 

 

(9) To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of a divinely called and scripturally qualified and ordained ministry, holding office and acting for and under the direction of local churches alone.

 

 

(10) To preserve the primitive fealty and faithfulness to the truth, that shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, and to teach men to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded to be believed and obeyed.

 

 

This is the author’s own synopsis of his system, to which he adds these words: “Not the belief and advocacy of one or two of these principles constitutes a full Old Landmark Baptist, but the cordial reception and advocacy of all of them.” Of course these are not intended to be the landmarks bounding the whole Biblical system of truth or of Christianity, but only the landmarks of a New Testament church. He contended most earnestly for the preservation of all the great landmarks of the world’s spiritual heritage in the truth of God; not only for the local church and church ordinances, but for

 

 

(1) the inerrancy, the all-sufficiency and supreme authority of the Scriptures;

 

 

(2) the proper deity and atoning work of Christ:

(3) justification by faith; and

 

 

(4) the personality, power and work of the Holy Spirit landmarks, and more than landmarks, the very essence of Christianity, to be preserved at any cost by the churches of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

 

As to the acceptance by the denomination of Dr. Graves’ view of a New Testament church and its ordinances, it may he said:

 

 

(1) Many brethren (pastors and churches) gave him their endorsement and adherence, avowing their full belief in the landmark system, going the full figure and refusing to “commune” except in the local church where they held their membership, and only with fellow-members of the same

church.

 

 

(2) Other churches and pastors, making a difference between membership rights and non-membership privileges and recognizing the doctrinal unity and solidarity of the Baptist family, continued the practice, as aforetime, of so-called “inter-communion,” the members of one Baptist church communing, upon invitation, with members of another Baptist church.

 

 

(3) Still other churches (but very few in the South or Southwest), holding that the ordinances belong to the “kingdom” and not to the local churches and considering that the validity of baptism depends upon only two necessary things, no more and no less, that is, the right faith and the right act (immersion in water), continued the practice of recognizing so-called “Alien Immersion,” or the immersion of a professed believer by a denomination other than Baptist, or by no denomination, and at the same time practiced, accordingly, a communion more or less unrestricted.

 

 

As to the question of “church succession” the denomination has ever been divided. Everyone who believes the Bible [Matthew 16:18; 28:20, HLW] believes, of course, in some sort of succession, perpetuity or continuity for the church built by the Christ; and certainly every true Baptist is interested in discovering and verifying the succession promised by the great Head of the Church, and would be glad to see any visible foot-prints, to catch any possible glimpse, of a genuine Baptist or New Testament church along the track of history through the “Dark Ages” of Catholic apostasy and persecution, when the true church was evidently “in the wilderness,” whither she had been driven by Satanic power and where she was “nourished” and preserved by her divine Lord.

 

 

But whatever may be the truth of history and whatever our individual beliefs may be in regard to the question of succession, all must admit, I think, that “visible” succession, however well or however poorly established, is not the most vital thing about a church; the vital thing is that it succeeds directly from Christ and the New Testament.

 

 

The subject has its difficulties, involving three questions of importance:

 

 

(1) a question of correct interpretation of a passage of Scripture;

 

 

(2) a question of history;

 

 

(3) a question of emphasis.

 

 

Dr. J. B. Gambrell’s illustration of the “Lost Horse” [as I remember, this was of Robert E. Lee’s famous horse, Traveler. He was lost awhile after the Civil War. And the retired General offered a handsome reward to anyone who found him. HLW] shows the gist and relative merit of Baptist contention and differences on this point: “I do not place much stress,” he says, “on historical succession–but the New Testament reads as though things were started to go on. “Let me illustrate my idea of succession: a man lost a gray horse. He finds some horse tracks step by step for a hundred miles. Then he comes upon the horse–but it is a black horse. That is historical succession.

 

 

Tracks are not worth a cent. If, on the other hand, you find the gray horse, it does not make any difference if you do not find any tracks. The whole business lies in the identity; we have the horse hunted for. So, the man who takes the New Testament and finds a church in his neighborhood or elsewhere like the one in the Book, has succession.”

 

 

This puts the main emphasis in the right place, while it may be thought to depreciate in a measure, at least inferentially, the value of a history of an ancient and “peculiar people” with whose fortunes have been bound up in an age-long conflict the fortunes of the kingdom of God. In

this connection I may be permitted to say that while Dr. Graves was a successionist there is no evidence, I think, that he put undue emphasis on the fact of succession or on any sort of “mother-church” notion; he did emphasize church authority and with apostolic zeal contended for the recognition of the same.

 

 

As to the “validity” of ordinances, the Baptists of the South and Southwest stand almost solidly for four’ necessary things:

 

 

(1) A proper subject (a believer),

 

 

(2) A proper act in baptism (immersion),

 

 

(3) A proper design (to show forth), and

 

 

(4) the proper authority (a New Testament church)–all these being held as Scriptural requirements conditioning the valid administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper alike.

 

 

The Baptists of the North and East, we think, are coming, and will come, more and more to this position–a position that would seem necessary, if Baptists are to justify their continued existence as a separate denomination and assure for themselves a denominational future.

 

 

And these results, it must be admitted, have come about, in large measure, through Dr. Graves’ strenuous contention for a “Thus saith the Lord” in all matters of religion. His slogan was “Back to the New Testament.” And whatever may be our theory or practice in regard to some of the questions involved, or supposed to be involved in Landmarkism, there can be no doubt that Dr. Graves’ manifold contention and protest, by voice and pen, has been a great service not only to the Baptists but to the whole religious world.

 

 

For well-nigh half a century he stood as a bulwark against error, as a mighty breakwater against the incoming flood of a false liberalism which is the constant menace of a pure Christianity in a “Laodicean Age.”

 

 

Dr. E. T. Winkler, editor of The Alabama Baptist, writes: “Extreme as the views of Dr. Graves have by many been regarded as being, there is no question that they have powerfully contributed to the correction of a false liberalism that was current in many quarters thirty years ago.”

 

 

Dr. S. H. Ford, in his Christian Repository, endorsed this statement, adding these words: “We differ with Dr. Graves in some things, but honor his heroic life-work in meeting and exposing error wherever uttered.”

 

 

Dr. Cathcart, in The Baptist Encyclopedia, speaking for Northern Baptists, says: “Dr. Graves in his peculiarities represents a section of the Baptist denomination, a conscientious and devoted portion of our great apostolic community, but in his earnest and generous zeal for our heaven-inspired principles, he represents all thorough Baptists throughout the ages and the nations.”

 

 

Dr. Graves, as already indicated, took a great interest in young preachers. He was jealous of any influence that might affect their moral or doctrinal stamina, or turn them aside from apostolic ways. He was ever anxious that our theological seminaries turn out New Testament prophets after the order of Paul and John the Baptist.

 

 

The writer has a vivid recollection of his first personal acquaintance with Dr. Graves. It was during a seminary vacation and while acting as a supply pastor for a church in Memphis. In going his rounds he dropped into the office of The Baptist to have a talk with the editor. Though busy furnishing “copy” to the printer, he arose from his desk to greet his visitor, but most of the greeting, as we remember, was

a sudden and dramatic reference. to a “Jacob staff,” a “Gunters chain”, and a “compass.” For five or ten minutes he warmed to his subject, giving the young preacher “points” on theological surveying, running boundary and divisional lines, giving metes and bounds, establishing corners, setting up landmarks, etc., that in future generations no “true Israelite might ever lose his inheritance;” in it all laying special emphasis on the fact that there is and can be no true “orientation” of doctrines, creeds and systems, except as they are brought to and examined in the light of the New Testament Scriptures.

 

 

Dr. Graves was a thorough believer in the equality and spiritual democracy of all believers, and was opposed to a minister accepting any title of distinction that would put him above or apart from his brethren. For this reason he refused more than once to be made a D. D. [Doctor of Divinity] Whether or not he accepted the LL.D. conferred upon him by Union University and appearing after his name on the title page of some of his works, I cannot speak advisedly. Perhaps the publisher, following a time-honored custom, used his own discretion in the matter.

 

 

Dr. Graves was a popular presiding officer and a skilled parliamentarian, presiding with dignity and consideration for his brethren. He knew how to preserve order and dispatch business, and was ever watchful in keeping from before a Baptist deliberative and advisory body matters over which it could have no jurisdiction. He was frequently president of the West Tennessee Baptist Convention and for a number of years was moderator of the Big Hatchie Association.

 

 

Dr. Graves was married three times–all “fortunate” marriages, his companions being women of “taste and refinement.” His first marriage (1845) was without issue. His second and third wives were sisters, Miss Lou and Miss Georgie Snider, daughters of Dr. George Snider. The living children of the second marriage are Mrs. O. L. Hailey and James R. Graves, of Dallas, Texas, and Mrs. R. H. Wood, San Antonio, Texas. The living children of the third marriage are W. C. Graves and Z. Calvin Graves, of Memphis, Tenn.

 

 

Dr. Graves died at Memphis, TN. closing his earthly career, June 26; 1893.In this sketch the writer has purposely refrained from eulogy, believing that facts are more eloquent than eulogistic words.

 

As to Dr. Graves’ gifts as an orator many competent judges will agree in the opinion and endorse the unqualified statement of one of our ablest speakers and writers when he says: “I regard J. R. Graves as the greatest orator America ever produced in any calling.”

 

(From Sketches of Tennessee’s Pioneer Baptist Preachers by J. J. Burnett, originally printed in Nashville, 1919, now by The Overmountain Press, Johnson City, TN.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gun Expert Lott: Let Teachers Carry Arms, Ban Gun-Free Zones to Halt Mass Shootings


Saturday, 15 Dec 2012 06:53 PM
By David A. Patten

Banning gun-free zones and allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons could help eliminate mass shootings at schools, John R. Lott, one of the nation’s leading gun experts, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview Saturday.

Lott, an author and college professor, told Newsmax that gun-free zones become “a magnet” for deranged killers who hope to burn their names into the history books by running up a big body count.

Lott’s landmark book “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws” is in its 3rd edition. He told Newsmax there is a “very good chance” the Connecticut school shooting could have been averted, if teachers there were permitted to carry concealed handguns.

It is no accident, he said, that mass shootings repeatedly have occurred in designated gun-free zones, which attract lunatics looking to murder as many souls as possible before they turn their guns on themselves.

Newsmax: Dr. Lott, your work suggests people are more secure, rather than less so, when firearms are readily available in society.

Dr. Lott: Simply telling them to behave passively turns out to be pretty bad advice . . . By far the safest course of action for people to take, when they are confronting a criminal, is to have a gun. This is particularly true for the people in our society who are the most vulnerable.

Newsmax: The media typically spins these mass shootings as an American phenomenon. They suggest we ought to be more like Europe, with strong gun control, because then we would not have these problems. Is that true?

Dr. Lott: No. Europe has a lot of multiple victim shootings. If you look at a per capita rate, the rate of multiple-victim public shootings in Europe and the United States over the last 10 years have been fairly similar to each other. A couple of years ago you had a couple of big shootings in Finland. About two-and-a-half years ago you had a big shooting in the U.K., 12 people were killed.

You had Norway last year [where 77 died]. Two years ago, you had the shooting in Austria at a Sikh Temple. There have been several multiple-victim public shootings in France over the last couple of years. Over the last decade, you’ve had a couple of big school shootings in Germany. Germany in terms of modern incidents has two of the four worst public-school shootings, and they have very strict gun-control laws. The one common feature of all of those shootings in Europe is that they all take place in gun-free zones, in places where guns are supposed to be banned.

Newsmax: Can you give readers an example of an incident where a teacher or authority-figure with a gun was able to thwart a violent shooting?

Dr. Lott: There was the university case in the Appalachian law school. You had the K through 12 in Mississippi and the one in Edinboro, Pa. You had New Life Church [in December 2007] — you had 7,000 parishioners there when the person broke into the church with about a thousand rounds of ammunition.

But there was a woman there, a former Chicago police officer who had gotten a concealed handgun permit because she was being stalked by her ex-husband. She had asked permission from the minister there to be able to carry a concealed handgun. She was worried if she couldn’t carry it at the church there, that she would be vulnerable going to and from the church. She shot at him 10 times, wounding him, and he committed suicide . . . These types of cases occur all around us, and they usually don’t get much attention, especially if they are stopped before people are injured or killed.

Newsmax: How can society prevent such mass shootings, or are they avoidable at all?

Dr. Lott: About 75 percent of the time when these attacks occur, the killers themselves die at the scene. Even the times when they don’t die, it seems pretty clear their intent was to die, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to commit suicide, pull the trigger, and shoot themselves at the last moment.

But in their warped mind, what they want to do is commit suicide in a way that will get them attention, so people know who they were when they were here. I’s a pretty sick idea, but if you read the documents that they leave, the diaries and the video tapes, it is pretty clear that these guys know that they get more attention the more people they can kill.

So their goal is to try to kill as many people as possible. So there are two issues here. One is focusing on the attention. And I think it’s pretty clear that  . . . if people stopped mentioning their names — I’m not saying that’s possible — that’s one thing that would reduce their incentive to go and commit these crimes.

The second thing is to give people the option to protect themselves. One of the things I’ve written about recently is the attack at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater. There, you have seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie when it opened at the end of July.

Out of those seven movie theaters, only one movie theater was posted as banning permit-concealed handguns. The killer didn’t go to the movie theater that was closest to his home. He didn’t go to the movie theater that was the largest movie theater in Colorado, which was essentially the same distance from his apartment as the one he ended up going to. Instead, the one he picked was the only one of those movie theaters that banned people taking permit-concealed handguns into that theater.

The problem is, whether it is the Portland shooting earlier this week, or the Connecticut shooting Friday, or the Sikh temple attack in Wisconsin, time after time these attacks take place in the few areas within a state where permit-concealed handguns are banned. It’s not just this year, it’s all these years in the past. And at some point people have to recognize that despite the obvious desire to make places safe by banning guns, it unintentionally has the opposite effect.

When you ban guns, rather than making it safer for the victims, you unintentionally make it safer for the criminals, because they have less to worry about. If you had a violent criminal stalking you or your family, and was really seriously threatening you, would you feel safer putting a sign up in front of your home stating, “This home is a gun-free zone.”

My guess is you wouldn’t do that. And I’ve never run into any gun-control proponents who would do that either. And the reason is pretty clear: Putting a sign there saying this is a gun-free home isn’t going to cause the criminals to say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to break the law, so I’m not going to go in and attack these people.’ It encourages them to do it. It serves as a magnet for him, if he’s going to engage in this attack, that that’s the place where he is going to engage in, because he finds that it is going to be easier to do it there.
Yet every time we have one of these mass shooting incidents, it renews the call from the media and the left for banning guns.

I believe that the people who are pushing for these gun controls are well intentioned. I think they’re wrong. I think the things they’re going to make life more dangerous. But it’s understandable. If you see something bad that happens, and it happens with a gun, the natural reaction is: ‘Well, if I take the gun away, bad things won’t happen anymore.’ The problem is you have to realize that when you go and ban guns, you may only take them away from good law-abiding citizens and not the criminals. And to disarm good law-abiding citizens . . . you just make it easier for crime to occur, not harder.

You also have to think about self defense. They say bad things happen with guns. But the news rarely covers people using guns defensively to stop crimes from happening. And that has a huge impact on people’s perceptions about the costs and benefits of guns.

Newsmax: So can you give us a correlation between crime rates in jurisdictions that try to ban concealed guns and the crime rate in those that do not?

If you look over past data, before everyone that was adopting [concealed carry laws], you find that for each additional state that adopted a right-to-carry law . . . you’d see about a 1.5 percent drop in murder rates, and about 2 percent drop in rape and robbery . . .  Just because states are right-to-carry doesn’t mean they’ve issued the same number of fees. You have big differences in states’ training requirements.

The bottom line seems to be when you make it costly for people to get permits, fewer people get permits. You particularly price out people who live in high-crime urban areas from being able to get permits, and those are the ones who benefit the most from having the option to defend themselves.

Newsmax: Do gun free zones invite these attacks?

Dr. Lott: Yes, they’re magnets for these attacks. They make them more likely. These gun-free zones are really tiny areas within a state, and yet that’s where these attacks occur time after time.

Whenever you see more than a few murders taking place, the odds are almost a hundred percent that they are going to occur at a place where permit-concealed handguns are banned. And they were doing it, ironically, in an attempt to try and make people safe. But the problem is it is law-abiding citizens who obey those bans, not the criminals.

Look at Virginia Tech, for example, where we had 32 people killed. If you were an adult with a concealed handgun permit, you could take your permit-concealed handgun virtually anyplace in the state, except for universities and a couple of other places. There are hardly any gun-free zones in Virginia. And yet, if you were a faculty member and you accidentally carried your permit-concealed handgun onto university owned property there, and you got caught, you were going to get fired and your academic career would be over.

You’re not going to get an academic job anyplace in the country. Same thing with the students: If you get expelled for a firearm-related violation, your academic career is over. Those are real penalties. Those people’s lives are going to be dramatically changed. But if you take somebody who is a killer . . . you would be facing 32 death penalties or 32 life sentences, plus other charges. And the notion that somehow the charge of expulsion from school would be the key penalty that would keep them from doing it, not 32 death penalties, is absurd. It just doesn’t make any sense . . .  It represents a much bigger real penalty for the law-abiding good citizens than it does for the criminals there.

So we have to think about who is going to be obeying these laws. And it’s true for gun-control laws generally. One of the things I try and do in “More Guns, Less Crime” is show what happens to gun rates when guns are banned. It would be nice if things were that simple, that going and banning guns would eliminate crime.

But what you find happening is murder rates and violent crime rates go up. And the question is why. It’s a pretty simple answer: Because the law-abiding citizens are the ones who turn in their guns, and not the criminals.

Newsmax: Would it be a good idea to have teachers who have concealed carry permits in the schools, to better protect kids?

I’m all for that. I’ve been a teacher most of my life. I’ve been an academic. I have kids in college still, and kids below that. It’s not something that I take lightly. But it’s hard to see what the argument would be against it.

People may not realize this, but we allowed permit-concealed handguns in schools prior to the ironically named Safe School Zone Act. And no one that I know has been able to point to a single bad thing that occurred, not one.

We changed the law, and we started having these public-school shootings. So I don’t think they got the intended result that they were hoping for with that type of ban. Right now, [some jurisdictions] allow you to carry concealed-permit guns in the schools. There are not a lot of them. But there are no problems that have occurred with any of those states, either.

Newsmax: Could arming teachers and getting rid of gun-free zones have averted a tragedy such as we saw in Connecticut?

Well, I think two things would happen. One is, we see the way these killers search out places where people can’t defend themselves. So I think there’s at least a very good chance that if it is known teachers and others there would have permit-concealed handguns, it would have dissuaded the attack from occurring to begin with. Secondly, even if he did attack, it would be by far the safest course of action.

The amount of time that elapses between when the attack starts and when someone can get to the scene with a gun is very important in determining what the carnage is going to be. The faster you can get somebody [there], the more you can limit it. If you could get the police there in 8 minutes, which would be record time, that would be an eon for people who are there helplessly having to face the killer by themselves with no protection.

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339 – Dec. 05 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


A long and arduous ministry of over forty years
December 05, 1792 – Joseph Smedley was born in Westmoreland County, England. This is where he professed Christ and became a member of a Baptist church. After emigrating to the U.S., he applied to the Fifth Baptist Church of Philadelphia for membership, and a committee was appointed to investigate the matter and report to the church. Upon investigation, they discovered that he had been excluded by a church in England, and they would need time to determine the facts. On Aug. 23, 1834, in the absence of a letter, they decided to receive him into the church based on his confession of his Christian experience and on his approval of the church’s confession of faith and discipline. It shows the importance Baptist churches placed on church membership. The following month Smedley requested a letter of dismission in order to go west, where under the advisory counsel of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and the employment of the U.S. Government, he became a teacher and missionary among the Indians. During this time his wife Mary Radcliff died in July of 1836 and left him in the care of seven children. In spite of this loss, he continued his ministry among the Choctaws, Creeks and Cherokees in an area of 80 miles west of Ft. Smith along the Arkansas and Canadian rivers. Smedley organized the first black Baptist church in Ft. Smith in 1856. He continued his missionary work, but the Civil War greatly curtailed his ministry. After the outbreak of hostilities, he was able to make only occasional visits to his churches. After a long and arduous ministry of over forty years, Smedley died on Aug. 27, 1877.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 507-08.

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