Doug & Gun Violence

I usually use these pastor’s epistles to write something folksy, possibly humorous, certainly positive about our faith walk together. Maybe not as humorous as our Sunday smile stories which my brother tells me are so bad, they’re actually good, but not so today. Today I would like to think with you about something that has covered our country like a plague of locusts; only it’s worse, much worse – gun violence.
Doug Gehr is a Church of the Brethren pastor who has filled our pulpit on several occasions when I was away. I did not know Doug before, but two weeks ago Andy Hallman sent me a link to a blog that Doug writes which was absolutely brilliant. The title was “If Not Now, When? Thoughts on the Issue of Gun Violence” (click for the full article) and I’d like to share some of Doug’s thoughts with you as our country continues to suffer from the incredible slaughter of our innocents, especially our teenagers.
Doug writes, “Again….this is becoming exceedingly frustrating. It used to be shocking. A lone gunman walks into a crowd of people and randomly shoots and kills numerous individuals for no apparent reason. We found it to be unbelievable…numbing. Sadly, it is becoming almost routine.
How did we get to this point? It is a loaded question. In many ways it is far too complicated to answer in a few paragraphs. Besides, it is highly subjective in that most people who seek to explain this phenomenon do so with a clear bias, whether to the right or the left. Opinions aside, here are some facts that cannot be disputed:
• The United States of America has more mass shootings than any other country.
• Each shooting is followed by emotional debates and legislature grid lock. In other words, nothing changes.
• American factories manufactured over 100 million firearms in the past twenty-five years. Almost half of these (50 million) are in civilian hands.
• The United States has 4.4% of the world’s population and 44% of the civilian-owned guns.
• There are more gun shops in the United States than Starbucks coffee shops in the entire world.
• There are 15 million semi-automatic military style AR-15 rifles in civilian hands in this country.
According to Politifact, 90% of Americans support universal background checks on all gun sales. 72% of NRA members support universal background checks. That’s almost three out of four members. Yet the NRA officially opposes this and has successfully controlled enough members of Congress to block any effort to do so. This is not how a democracy works.
Currently nineteen states already have criminal background checks for all gun sales. In these states the difference is stunning since this law was enacted. For example:
• 47% fewer women are shot by their partner
• 47% fewer suicides by firearms
• 48% less gun trafficking
• 53% fewer law enforcement officers have been shot
After each mass shooting, the controlling party in Congress regurgitate the same old lines to claim that “now is not the time to talk about gun control.” So please tell me, when is the time to talk about this? If not now, when?” Doug writes.
Doug’s blog contains much more info than I can put in this article. If you’d like to read his whole blog, let me know and I’ll be glad to get you a copy.
Obviously, I agree with the thrust of Doug’s thinking and I know this is a volatile subject. Sometimes hunters feel threatened by these arguments, but these mass horrors have nothing to do with hunting. We have hunters in our congregation and some really skilled ones. I have seen Harry Groff”s prize buck hanging on his wall with as big a rack as an elk has. Harry doesn’t need a semi-automatic – no hunter does. I personally don’t hunt but I come from a family of hunters including my Dad, uncles and cousins. There’s a big difference between shooting game and shooting people.
So, what we have is a national tragedy and a spiritual tragedy. Our God weeps at this unnecessary tragedy. We, as Christians need to speak up. As Doug Gehr says “If not now, when?”
Pastor Rod

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