Editorial Responses: Register-Guard supports proposals to reduce gun violence in Oregon

The Register-Guardhttp://www.registerguard.com/

EDITORIAL: New York leads the way

Oregon lawmakers should take hard look at gun deal

Published: Midnight, Jan. 16

New York is poised to become the first state to harden its gun laws in the wake of the slaughter of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn. Other states, including Oregon, should follow New York’s lead, putting pressure on the White House and Congress to put in place the tough, common-sense national gun laws needed to help prevent future mass shootings.

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers agreed on major changes to the state’s gun laws — changes that include an expansion of the state’s existing ban on assault weapons and new measures that attempt to keep guns out of the possession of mentally ill people who make threats. The state Senate, which is dominated by Republicans who traditionally have balked at gun-control legislation, approved the package by a 43-18 vote. The Assembly, where pro gun-control Democrats have a strong majority, passed the legislation late Tuesday.

It’s a remarkable achievement, one that Gov. John Kitzhaber and Oregon lawmakers should replicate with their own package of gun and mental health measures. Cuomo’s post-Newtown exhortation to New York lawmakers should resonate in Salem: “We don’t need another tragedy to point out the problems in the system. Enough people have lost their lives. Let’s act.”

Kitzhaber has said he will support what he considers reasonable changes in Oregon’s gun laws, but adds that he won’t lead the charge. He should reconsider the qualifier. Democrats control both Oregon’s House and Senate, but it will take more than a tacit nod and a signature from the governor to strengthen this state’s gun laws in a rural state whose citizens historically have resisted new restrictions on the possession and use of firearms.

State Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, is leading a push for legislation that would ban or limit assault rifles, limit magazines to no more than 10 rounds, expand background checks to include private person-to-person gun sales, and repeal a state law allowing people with concealed handgun permits to bring guns into schools.

That’s a serious legislative package, although much depends on the details of provisions such as the proposed ban on assault rifles.

Burdick and other gun-control supporters in the Legislature should take a serious look at the assault-rifle ban approved in New York. Actually an expansion of an existing ban, it would broaden the definition of such weapons, banning semiautomatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and any military-style features, as well as semiautomatic shotguns with military-style features. New Yorkers who already own assault rifles would be able to keep them but would be required to register them with the state — a key provision that recognizes the reality that many people already own such weapons.

In an interview with The (Portland) Oregonian, Kitzhaber rightly noted that state lawmakers concerned about mass killings should look beyond firearm restrictions and consider mental health reforms. Again, the New York legislation merits consideration in Oregon. A key provision would require mental health professionals to notify local mental health officials when patients appear likely to harm themselves or others. Law enforcement would then be authorized to confiscate firearms owned by a patient deemed dangerous.

The national and state gun lobbies are already gearing up for a fight in Salem that could be similar to the one in Washington, D.C. That means Kitzhaber will have to step in and make room for gun control in an already crowded legislative agenda of education funding, sentencing reform and public employee pensions.

That should be a moral and political no-brainer in a state whose traditional wariness of gun control has been shaken by the shootings at the Clackamas Town Center mall and the Connecticut elementary school.

As New York’s governor noted, “Enough people have lost their lives.”

KITZHABER HAS SAID HE WILL SUPPORT WHAT HE CONSIDERS REASONABLE CHANGES IN OREGON’S GUN LAWS, BUT ADDS THAT HE WON’T LEAD THE CHARGE. HE SHOULD RECONSIDER THE QUALIFIER.

More irrational gun arguments — otherwise known as more fancy lies

Irrational gun arguments: the ATF, the Holocaust, slavery and tyranny
Friday, 18 January 2013 22:39:18 PST
allvoices.com

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/13840574-irrational-gun-arguments-the-atf-stopping-the-jewish-holocaust-slavery-and-tyranny

F2000 Tactical Assault Rifle for military use

F2000 Tactical Assault Rifle for military use

Since the horrifying school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., the right and left have been ratcheting up the gun rhetoric daily—from liberals thinking laws will stop America’s obsession with violence to conservatives passionately defending their right to bear arms and stop tyranny. The sentiment isn’t monolithic, for there are some liberals with guns and some conservatives who support commonsense gun laws.

But among those making the noise are the NRA, with their recent ad featuring President Obama’s daughters front and center, while calling the president “an elitist hypocrite.” Then there is the Gun Appreciation Day organizer failing to see the obscene irony in his statement on Dr. King and slavery, to the Holocaust put on blast for a lack of ammo in the hands of the Jews.

So let’s continue the irrational conversation on the nation’s many guns, on mass shootings, accidental killings, criminal possession, hunting, tyranny, slavery, the Holocaust, big government and the Second Amendment.

There are some rational steps being taken by the president to tighten our gun laws. He unveiled 23 executive orders aimed at gun control on Wednesday. Vice President Joe Biden has been working behind the scenes, meeting with the NRA, manufacturers, and the country’s biggest gun retailer, that juggernaut of mass products, Walmart.

Meanwhile, there is another convo taking place among pundits, in social media, in blog-land, and beyond—and some of it defies logic.

Irrational argument number one: “I think Martin Luther King Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.” This fromLarry Ward, organizer of Gun Appreciation Day, to CNN host Carol Costello.

There are so many variables here, and every one of them was lost on Ward. Like the fact that the civil rights leader was murdered by a gun. The obtuseness of his statement is stunning. Then there was his sad pandering to blacks with his slavery-could-have-been-avoided-if-only-those-enslaved-were-allowed-to-carry-guns argument, which descended into the incredulous.

Why stop at slavery? While preaching gun protection and the Second Amendment, he should have thought of the Native American people having guns too and what the outcome would have been when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and proved not to be as peace-loving as they first portrayed themselves.

Irrational argument number two: The Holocaust. Folks are actually using Hitler’s horrors to make their no-restrictions-on-guns argument. Memes on Facebook claim if the persecuted Jews had guns they could have prevented their nightmare. I guess they forgot that France and the Allied forces had not only guns but other weaponry usually found in the military (like warplanes, tanks, bombs) and that demon Hitler still managed to conquer most of Europe.

Irrational argument number three: “The right to bear arms is … the last form of defense against tyranny.” This is the mantra of many gun enthusiasts. Former rapper/actor Ice-T recited those very words during a recent interview.

So we need guns, semi-automatic killing machines, to protect ourselves if the big, bad government decides to act tyrannically? I don’t know what America these folks are living in. Maybe they have been watching too many Hollywood movies. Have they seen what the government is packing lately?

In case they forgot, the military industrial complex and the government are one and the same, and their weaponry has long surpassed Glocks, Bushmasters, AR-15s and all semi- and automatic rifles.

It’s fascinating, for the ones who accuse the government of psych-ops and other elaborate conspiracies of military mass destruction are the same folks who believe guns hoarded in their basement or lockboxes can go up against that kind of sophisticated tyranny.

Irrational argument number four: We already have more than 23,000 gun laws on the books; the government just needs to get the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to enforce them. What Republicans are leaving out in this conversation is that they have methodically and effectively muzzled that department to the point it is legislatively impotent. Like a Daily Beast article asks, What Does the ATF Do, Anyway?

There isn’t even an officially appointed head of the ATF, and that position has been empty for six years. The acting director, Todd Jones, has another full-time gig, as the US Attorney for Minnesota. It is an appointed position, thanks to Republicans. The ATF also cannot do a slew of things because it is undermined and limited by Congress via powerful NRA lobbyists.

Here are some of the things the department that is supposed to be in charge of enforcing gun laws in this country cannot do:

  • Despite all their loud hoopla over the Fast and Furious program, Republicans have muzzled the ATF so that it can’t force gun vendors to take inventories.
  • The ATF cannot effectively track guns because it is not allowed to create a gun registry and database.
  • The ATF cannot make gun records public.

Republican Joe Scarborough and gun control

Joe Scarborough’s Gun-Control Crusade Is the Only One

You Should Pay Attention To

Jan 16, 2013 2:20 PM EST

Piers Morgan, Jamie Foxx, and countless others have said their peace on why we need gun-control reform. But MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough says it better than any other pundit doe

The gun-control reforms  President Obama introduced Wednesday have their fair share of big-name supporters.

Joe Scarborough
Joe Scarborough (William B. Plowman/NBC, via Getty)

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show has been a weeks-long sermon shouted from the TV mountaintop, a notorious blowhard delivering ratings-gold rants that amounted to little more than publicity and an asinine deportation debate. Well-meaning movie stars like Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Rennerpleaded for an end to gun violence … as their über-violent shoot-’em-up blockbusters racked up millions of dollars at the box office.

Finally, then, emerging as the celebrity world’s best gun-control advocate is MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the man behind the one argument for reform that you should be following.

For the past 24 hours Scarborough’s Twitter stream has featured a takedown of the National Rifle Association’s extremism, 140 characters at a time. On Morning Joe over the past week, he’s slammed the organization as “sick” for, among other things, apparently releasing an iPhone videogame that allows users—age 4 and up—to take target practice. On his Politico blog, he warns the NRA of future extinction if it ignores a public that increasingly wants reform and continues with its “tone-deaf” ways.

Sure, these are things that his talking-head colleagues have said, in various ways, before. But Scarborough is different. For one, he is a Republican. He is of the same party that so many people on one side of the debate—those for sweeping gun-control reform—consider the bad guys. He is a longtime supporter of the Second Amendment and a believer of the original intention behind the formation of the NRA, calling it a good and “proud” organization that has been “besmirched and diminished” by a few powerful but out-of-touch gun lobbyists. “How sick are these people that have commandeered the NRA and turned them into an extremist operation for survivalists and gun manufacturers?” he says. And as a former representative, he knows the legislative difficulty that any meaningful reform will encounter.

Scarborough’s rants—as much as rational, reasoned arguments can be called rants—are rooted in advocacy. As much as he is decrying the recent spate of gun violence and the current mindset of the NRA, he is encouraging members of the Republican Party, to which the group is closely tied, to force it to reform its ways and make its way back from the edge of alienating and ultimately counterproductive extremism.

His message cites the stats, throwing out recent poll numbers about Americans’ support out “as a wake-up call” to the NRA and the Republican Party in general. “If they keep their feet in cement,” he says, “they’re going to be run over—not by Joe Biden, but by Middle America, by people that want to protect their children.”

And it’s not just the NRA he’s going after. He’s including gun manufacturers in his condemnation of the gun industry for “ginning up fears” that the government will reactionarily ban guns entirely following the Sandy Hook shooting, a fearmongering tactic that has goosed gun sales. “Hey, they can’t take your guns away—we’ve got something called the Second Amendment in the Constitution of the United States,” he says. “Justice Scalia said in 2009 they can’t come and take your guns away. You can have a handgun to protect your family. But after that, they can regulate guns.”

So much of the antigun argument has relied on passion and anger to make a point—and there’s certainly a place for that—but Scarborough is boiling the debate down to logic, and survival. His take on the gun debate isn’t an opportunistic takedown of an out-of-touch organization, but a much needed canary in the coal mine for a major presence in American politics that doesn’t seem to be paying close enough attention. Quite simply, he says that if Republicans continue to back the NRA as it promotes its current stances, they would be “driving off the cliff into political oblivion.”

“The only way we will be able to change is if [gun lobbyists’] audience, their constituents, their membership, says this time must be different,” Obama said in his address Wednesday, “that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.”

Scarborough, for one, is doing his best.

Sowing Seeds of Hope Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

Sowing Seeds of Hope                                                                                                                                                                              Susan Lea Smith                                                                                                                                                                                  Cedar Hills United Church of Christ                                                                                                                                                 January 20, 2013 (as preached on the occasion of Martin Luther King Sunday)

Today we remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who loved God and his neighbors with all his heart,might, soul and mind,  who picked up his cross on his people’s behalf and behalf of all of us, and who sought to follow Jesus until the day he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet.

Dr. King led the civil rights movement throughout the 1950s and 60s and taking Gandhi’s approach of non-violent resistance to evil, he led boycotts, marches, sit-ins and protest of every sort.  But he was more than a civil rights leader. He was a tireless advocate for peace, nuclear disarmament and an end to the war in Vietnam.  And he fought for economic justice at every turn.  Indeed, Dr. King was in Memphis fighting for economic justice, supporting the city’s garbage collectors strike when he was shot dead on that sad day in April.

Dr. King was not only an activist: he  inspired us through his remarkable speeches and sermons.  He was indeed a modern day prophet and an absolutely consummate preacher!  Now prophets have two unique tasks.  The first is speaking the truth in love – diagnosing the true ills of a people and then prescribing a cure even if that requires telling them uncomfortable and inconvenient truths. The second is sowing hope that these difficulties will be overcome.  The emphasis prophets give each task depends upon the circumstances of their time and place: they proclaim what the people need to hear

In today’s Scripture, Isaiah, a prophet of long ago, spoke at a time when his people most needed hope.  He spoke at a time of hardship, confusion, and despair.  He assured them that by remaining true to the inclusive message of liberation and compassionate justice, their loving God would bring them honor among nations and prosperity. Through these words, Isaiah did his best to sow seeds of hope.

Likewise, Dr. King’s clarion call to justice and his hope-filled vision of the future gave courage and hope to those of us who fought beside him, facing arrest, fire hoses, police dogs, cross burnings and death.   But he supplied hope not just to those who struggled along with him: he offered an inclusive hope of racial equality, peace, and economic justice for all.  And he promised that one day we would achieve those dreams, we would indeed reach that mountaintop.  And from that mountaintop, our whole society would see the gospel vision, the Kingdom of God that, with God’s help, would come to pass on earth.  Quite simply, Dr. King sowed seeds of hope—far and wide.

Since the morning of December 14th, 2012, when I spent hours praying in this sanctuary…since December 14th,  a day that like Pearl Harbor day will live in infamy, I’ve considered how Dr. King would have responded to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary and the larger problem of gun violence.

Dr. King abhorred violence in any form and, like Gandhi, was sorely disappointed on those occasions when his followers succumbed to that terrible…terrible temptation to use violence against evil.  So there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. King would have been at the forefront of the battle against gun violence.  But I am less certain which strategies he would have used to counter the power of the NRA with Congress and an antagonistic Supreme Court.

Perhaps Dr. King would have simply urged us to keep pressure on our legislators, writing letters, attending town meetings and talking to them at the legislature.  I have it on impeachable authority that this strategy is very important right now.

Perhaps Dr. King would have led us in marching on Washington (and the state capitols of our great nation) to demand effective regulation of such weapons.

Perhaps Dr. King might even have urged us to commit non-violent civil disobedience, to do radical, risky things—things that I fear I lack the courage to do.  I can imagine that he and his closest followers might have stormed into gun shows where semi-automatic weapons are sold to convicted felons and people suffering from dangerous mental illnesses – and, like Jesus, upset the tables of the merchants of death.  But I think he would have refrained because, however tempting, that sort of action would exacerbate fear.

Though I am not certain about his strategies for direct action, I am certain he would have shared another dream – a dream that not one, single more American child will die by bullets from the barrel of a semi-automatic weaponHe would have shared that dream.

He also would have sought to sow seeds of hope for all Americans, seeking to create an inclusive vision even for those who grasp most tightly onto their semi-automatic weapons – suspicious of humanity and afraid of their government.  For you see, the job of a prophet is more than telling people what they are doing is wrong or what they ought to be doing.  A prophet must illuminate a vision of the kingdom of God and reassure us that we, with the help of God, can bring that kingdom to earth.

Forces of darkness are telling Americans that we need semi-automatic weapons to resist foreign invasion, crime, governmental tyranny, and social disorder when the apocalypse comes. They bombard our friends and neighbors with a message that our country is on its way to ruin and our government is somehow responsible for that ruin.  They seek to have us desperately worship the false idol of those weapons, trusting in firepower, rather than our God.  They truly are engaged in a battle for the American soul.

Sadly, Dr. King is not here to fight the battle against gun violence.  Only you and I can fight this battle.  But the same Spirit of loving compassion and justice that nurtured, called and guided Dr. King, the voice of God that spoke so clearly and strongly to him, remains.  That Spirit now calls us to do our part to assure America is no longer a society where deeply disturbed people have ready access to weapons of mass destruction.

In her sermons over the last few months, beginning with the one before Sandy Hook when she read a list of recent mass shootings, the Rev. Mary Sue Evers has provided a prophetic voice about gun violence.  Have we been listening?  Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?  I hope and believe we do.

But today I ask even more of you, of us, than she has asked.  For we must address not just the symptoms, but the disease that makes people hold onto their guns so tightly: their profound fear of our society and our government. Dr. King taught us that the antidotes to fear are self-awareness, courage, love, and faith. So, to combat the disease of fear that grips those who cling onto semi-automatic rifles, to help them fight their fear– each of us must serve as a prophetic voice, intentionally, consciously, sowing seeds of love, of faith, of hope among our friends and neighbors.

To be such a voice, we must be careful about how we address the various flaws of our society.  Whenever we talk about problems in apocalyptic terms, whenever we use rhetoric more extreme than our positions, and whenever we blame the flaws of our society on corrupt government and mindless bureaucrats, we play into the hands of darkness and we foster more fear, cynicism, and despair.

I confess that I’ve said such things, I’ve used that sort of dark rhetoric— and I suspect that many of you have as well.  We ought to be more careful.

We ought to take care not to feed apocalyptic nightmares by suggesting that somehow the sky is falling: the global economy poised on the brink of collapse or that any other problem from nukes in Iran to global warming is about to destroy life as we know it.

We ought to take care not to act, or overstate our position, in ways that create more fear instead of less.  If we moderate our actions and our rhetoric, we can foster dialogue: if our issue is with death-dealing semi-automatic weapons, it is good to reassure owners of ordinary hunting rifles that we do not support banning their weapons.

We ought to take care not to foster contempt for our government by suggesting that our democratically-elected government is somehow illegitimate.  Each time we engage in such dark rhetoric, we reinforce the darkness. Leave the darkness to the darkness.

So, what should we say?  What might Isaiah or Dr. King say in these confusing and troubling times.  Preach the good news and sow seeds of Gospel faith: trust in God’s abundance, mercy, and justice, and foster that trust in others. Lift up the victories and sow seeds of hope—celebrate the states that are acting on this issue and celebrate that our President is prepared to lead the battle against gun violence even through it carries political risks.  Tell stories of compassion, justice, and love.  Let me share just one little story—an almost unbelievable story—right now.

In my last sermon, I recounted how directly experiencing God, the Spirit that is love, during my stay in India has led me to experience the same exquisite joy whenever I serve as a conduit of that love to others.  I gave one small example – my Wal-Mart moment, when the Spirit moved me to pay the bill of a woman at the checkout counter at Wal-Mart who had her credit card declined.  Her plight flooded me with compassion in part because I’m sure her teenage daughter was absolutely mortified!!!  My Wal-Mart moment indeed freed me to share God’s abundance with others whether they just need an ear to listen, money for gas or groceries, or a hot home-made meal.

 Well, today I’d like to finish that story.  About two years ago, I found the tables turned.  One night, I was standing at the Safeway checkout counter with my son Nathanial, who had just returned from college.  He still eats like a teenager –those of you who have had teenagers can imagine what my grocery bills are like when he’s home! That night, when I zipped my debit card through and punched in my PIN, the system declined it.  I was embarrassed and anxious about Nathanial finding out how tight money was.  As I turned to talk with him, the woman behind me in line just handed her card to the clerk and paid my bill – more than $240.  When I asked where to send the money to repay her, she smiled and told me not to worry about that – she had enough money. That woman’s loving act was a simple, vivid illustration of how God’s love indeed fills the entire world and how trust in God enlivens, enriches, and simplifies one’s life.

The truth that we can proclaim to our friends and neighbors is that amazing things happen when we act out of loving compassion and when we trust in God’s abundance, mercy and justice.  If Dr. King were here today, I believe he’d remind us that we are all called to act with loving compassion.  We are all called, in whatever way we can find, to light a candle, to be a force of light chasing away the darkness.  Quite simply, we are all called to be prophets and to take on the task of sowing seeds of hope.  I pray that each of us will respond to that call. Amen.

Obama’s gun proposals supported by the majority of Americans

Polls show Obama’s proposals are supported by the majority.  Visit our polls page http://wp.me/P2Z8Ra-1x

What do you think?

Obama’s Gun Violence Proposal

Brad Plummer of the Washington Post reports that President Obama has 10 major strategies to address gun violence::

* Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
* Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.
* Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
* Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
* Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
* Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
* End the freeze on gun violence research.
* Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
* Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
* Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

Some strategies require Congressional action, but the White House announced that President Obama will sign 23 executive orders on guns and gun violence immediately:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/16/read-obamas-plan-to-reduce-gun-violence/?print=1

Happy New Year

Make this year truly meaningful.  Make a New Year’s Resolution: I pledge to do something each day (or 7 things a week) to reduce gun violence.  Share a story on gun violence on FB, sign a petition, write a letter to a government official…every day.  Make a pledge that honors those children’s lives and that will truly bring hope to our nation.

WWJD?

The answer to ethical questions for Christians must begin with the Scriptural teachings of Jesus.  Not necessary what would Jesus have done, but what a faithful follower of Jesus should do.  Huff Post Religion had a blog post on that this week.  It comes to the only conclusion that a faithful Christian can reach, IMHO.  But I would go further.  Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple.  It is time to turn over the tables of semi-automatic weapons in the temple of the NRA (otherwise known as Congress).  The NRA and gun manufacturers have created a systemic evil that can only be addressed by concerted action by Christians (and other people of faith) to banish it.  The time to act is now.

What Would Jesus Say to the NRA?
Posted: 12/24/2012 4:43 pm

by Shane Claiborne

….  From his birth in the manger as a homeless refugee until his brutal execution on the Roman cross, Jesus was very familiar with violence. Emmanuel means “God with us.” Jesus’ coming to earth is all about a God who leaves the comfort of heaven to join the suffering on earth. The fact that Christians throughout the world regularly identify with a victim of violence — and a nonviolent, grace-filled, forgiving victim — is perhaps one of the most fundamentally life-altering and world-changing assumptions of the Christian faith. Or it should be.

So what does that have to do with the NRA? Underneath the rhetoric of the gun-control debate this Christmas is a nagging question: Are more guns the solution to our gun problem?

Everything in Jesus’ world, just as in ours, contends that we must use violence to protect the innocent from violence, which is the very thing Jesus came to help us un-learn through his nonviolent life and death on the cross. Surely, we think, if God were to come to earth, he should at least come with a bodyguard — if not an entire entourage of armed soldiers and secret service folk. But Jesus comes unarmed. Surely, we think, if God were about to be killed he would bust out a can of butt-kicking wrath; but Jesus looks into the eyes of those about to kill him and says, “Father forgive them.” The Bible goes so far to say that the wisdom of God makes no sense to the logic of this world, in fact it may even seem like “foolishness” (or at least utopian idealism).  When soldiers come to arrest and execute Jesus, one of his closest friends defensively picks up a sword to protect him. Jesus’ response is stunning: He scolds his own disciple and heals the wounded persecutor. It was a tough and very counter-intuitive lesson: “The one who picks up the sword dies by the sword … there is another way.” …

Many Christians have begun to speak of Jesus as an interruption to the “myth of redemptive violence,” the assumption that we can use violence to get rid of violence or that we can destroy a life to save a life. The myth of redemptive violence has many ugly faces. It teaches us that we can kill those who kill to show that killing is wrong. It teaches us to live by the law of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” a law that Jesus firmly spun on its head, saying, “You’ve heard it said ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth … but I tell you…” There is another way. Killing to show that killing is wrong is like trying to teach holiness by fornication. The cure is as bad as the disease.

At one point Jesus even weeps over the violent world he lived in, lamenting that “they did not know the things that would lead to peace.” The fact that Jesus carried a cross rather than a sword has something relevant and redemptive to offer our violent-possessed world. After all, the Bible has a lot to say about loving enemies, and “Thou shalt not kill,” but doesn’t even mention the right to bear arms.

… What would Jesus say to our nation…:
10,000 people die from gun-related homicides each year, that’s one Sandy Hook massacre a day, every day
There are nearly 90 guns for every 100 people
There are more than 51,000 licensed gunshops (and 30,000 supermarkets)
Guns that can shoot 100 rounds a minute, and are only designed to kill, are still legal
Other than auto accidents, gun violence is the leading cause of death of young people (under 20)
$20,000 a second is spent on war

… [Jesus] consistently taught that we can disarm violence without mirroring it, and that we can rid the world of evil without becoming the evil we abhor. So let us recommit ourselves to Peace this Christmas season and new year — in honor of Jesus, and in honor of the holy innocents.

Full post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-claiborne/what-would-jesus-say-to-the-nra_b_2360543.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

Five more myths — beyond the canard that gun control doesn’t work

Five myths about gun control

In this Washington Post piece on December 21, 2012 (apocalypse past), Robert J. Spitzer — distinguished service professor and chair of the political science department at the State University of New York College at Cortland and author of four books on gun policy, including “The Politics of Gun Control”–tackles five myths about control:

  1. gun control is a losing battle for Democrats (the NRA has not been able to elect pro-gun candidates and gun control is not that salient an issue);
  2. guns are deadliest as murder weapons (no, guns facilitate far more suicides than homicides);
  3. American schools have become shooting galleries (no, schools are remarkably safe and getting safer);
  4. gun control laws are incompatible with our Western heritage (gun control laws have been around as long as guns have);                                and most significantly,
  5. the Second Amendment was adopted to allow rebellion against government (no, it was adopted to allow armed state militia to suppress insurrections!!!). 

For the full article, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-gun-control/2012/12/21/6ffe0ae8-49fd-11e2-820e-17eefac2f939_print.html.  Spitzer is available at robert.spitzer@cortland.edu

Yes Virginia, Gun Control Does Work

Despite the massive loopholes in the 1994 assault weapon ban, it still helped — according to the only official study that Congress permitted and according to an October 2012 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Study.

JH School of Public Health Study
http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/publications/WhitePaper102512_CGPR.pdf

National Institute of Justice Study
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_final2004.pdf