Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gary Hall on Advent Three and Gun Violence

Christianity is not only about loving Jesus and knowing God. It is about living out the implications of that love and knowledge. Human beings are precious, and that is why Jesus responds to John's question not with a list of ideas but with the news of human lives made better. And so for us.

On this Third Sunday of Advent, as we move ever closer to Christmas and its proclamation of good news and great joy for all people, I repeat what I said a year ago: the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby. You and I who follow Jesus must continue to stand with and for the victims of gun violence and we must redouble our efforts to help our leaders do the right thing so that our schools, our workplaces, and our streets will be safe places for precious human beings to live out their lives in the fulfillment of Christmas peace and joy.

Read the rest here.


RonF said...

While I'm a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I keep seeing stories like this when we look at these shooters:

Take the Navy Yard shooting as an example:

"A month before Aaron Alexis killed 12 people in the Navy Yard rampage, police in Rhode Island sent word to the Navy that the 34-year-old Texas man reported hearing voices and thought he was the target of a 'microwave machine.'”

"The Navy contractor was arrested in 2010 after firing a gun through the ceiling of his apartment. Adding to the list of run-ins with the law was a disorderly conduct arrest in Georgia in 2008. In 2004, he admitted shooting out the tires of a man’s truck in Seattle in what he told police was an anger-fueled blackout."

I would have no problems with a law that would take guns away from someone like this. One might also think that the Navy would bounce this guy's security clearance (at the very least) on the basis of such things.


Exactly. I think the one of the greatest fictions out there is that those who advocate for sensible gun laws (like background checks, for example) are opposed to the 2nd Amendment. Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords are a great example.

Mitchell McClain said...

The underlying problem was that Mr. Alexis did not get the treatment that he needed.

I AM for some sensible gun control laws but may be against background checks. They may further the stigma of mental illness and push people out of treatment.

The best way to prevent these tragedies is to provide people with health care.

On a personal note. I have lost my gun rights because of mental health reasons and plan to get my rights back.

RonF said...

Susan, you may not like it but I'll tell you why even the slightest change to gun laws meet with strong opposition - it's a lack of trust. For a long time a great many people involved in attempting to change our current gun laws have made no secret that they are adamantly opposed to gun possession in general and would be quite happy to see all guns confiscated from private hands. They even denied that the 2nd Amendment was intended to ensure the right to private possession of firearms. Not all took this position. But some very vocal advocates have.

It has also not escaped notice that recent decisions of the Supreme Court affirming the intent of the 2nd Amendment have been met with resistance. Just as legislatures in some States have gone to great lengths to do an end-around on the SC's decision on abortion, various legislatures such as the Chicago City Council have attempted to do an end around with guns. For example, they passed a law that a) requires you to go to a gun range and get certified to own a handgun and b) forbidden gun ranges for private use in the city. Imagine if the city said you were free to go to church but banned the building of churches in the city? They say you can own a gun but charge you $150 every 3 years for a permit - far in excess of what it costs to process it (you have to get an Illinois FOID card first, for which you are charged $10, and THAT'S where the background check is run by the State Police) and then say you can only have your gun in your house - not in your garage (even if it's attached) or on your front steps.

Then there's the call for passing various gun ownership and use restrictions when a tragedy occurs that very often propose laws that would have had nothing to do with preventing the tragedy. People often say after one of these shootings that it shows we should pass a strong background check law - but generally the gun's purchaser would have passed such a check. The disconnect causes distrust of the proposer's motives.

My overall point is that because of the history of resistance to the preservation and exercise of 2nd Amendment civil rights, advocates of those rights frankly don't trust anyone. "You can keep your health plan/doctor if you like it/him/her" has not helped. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly are seen as exceptions, not as being representative of any large group of people wanting to make changes. Don't expect this to change soon, I'm afraid, no matter how many tragedies you have in the near future.


I don't expect change soon. I expect change will come. And I believe God expects us to participate in bringing about that change ... not by sitting back and shrugging our shoulders and giving power over to those who captialize on the violence in our streets and schools by fomenting fear and making billions of dollars in the gun industry.

RonF said...

"... giving power over to those who captialize on the violence in our streets and schools by fomenting fear and making billions of dollars in the gun industry."

I'm interpreting this statement as meaning that you think that gun manufacturers are getting people to buy guns by fomenting fear of being shot in street violence. Is that true? If so, how are gun manufacturers doing this? When was the last time you saw or heard an ad for guns on TV or radio or in newspapers, magazines, social media, web sites such as eBay or Amazon, etc.? Gun manufacturers can't even advertise their products in any media other than those read by a small fraction of gun owners. They don't have any power.

About 10,000 people are killed in a given year in a gun-related homicide (there are about twice as many suicides, but it makes no logical sense that someone would buy a gun to defend themselves against someone else committing suicide). That's about the same number as are killed in car-related homicides. That's out of what I've seen various estimates of as about 200,000,000 to 300,000,000 guns in civilian hands in the U.S. I believe that you'd find that gun purchases as a function of a fear of the violence in our streets is a small fraction of gun sales. It's my guess, based on what people actually use their guns for, that most guns are bought for either recreational purposes (skeet, trap or target shooting) or for hunting (which can be either recreational or economic).

It seems to me as I listen or watch or read news media that it is the people who either outright oppose the exercise of 2nd Amendment rights or seek to restrict them in some fashion who use fear of guns and gun violence to promote their views

If you look at gun and ammunition sales you will see that there is little relation to crime rates (which one would think would fear of violent crime would be a function of) and there is little relation to events such as Sandy Hook or even 9/11. The one person who has done the most to sell guns in the U.S.A. over the last couple of days has been President Barack Obama and the various Democratic legislative leaders. Every time he or one of the Democratic legislators opens their mouth to propose gun ownership or use restrictions sales spike. And when I hear people talk about it no one talks about what they heard from the NRA. There's 5 million members in the NRA. There's 100 million gun owners. The NRA can only dream of being dominant among gun owners.

Most guns aren't being bought by people who fear street violence. Those people live in cities, and cities generally make owning guns illegal, or at least very difficult. It's very hard for them to buy guns unless they do so legally, and illegal gun sales would be a very small fraction of gun sales overall.

uffda51 said...

30+ dead Americans, each and every day, is simply too high a cost
for the absolute rights of the distrusting among us.

“ Don't expect this to change soon” is, of course, the “conservative” response to any proposed progress.

And RonF, why would you write “no matter how many tragedies you have in the near future.” Wasn’t Newtown a tragedy “we,” as in “we the people” all shared? Newtown happens to us every single day in the United States.

Yes, let’s talk about mental health. Who led the charge of the deinstitutionalization (and ultimately the criminalization) of the mentally ill in California and the nation? Who replaced public mental hospitals with for-profit “board-and care” corporations? Who began the push to turn the public prison system into a private for-profit enterprise? Ronald Reagan, backed by the “Moral Majority.”

Never mind how the “strict constitutionalists” twist “well-regulated militia” into “any and all guns, clips and magazines for anyone, all the time.”

Never mind that with rights come responsibilities.

Never mind that Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords share the views of 90% of Americans and 74% of NRA members.

As Susan points out, it is the gun industry, legally absolved of any responsibility for gun violence, who decides gun policy in this country. And business is good.

Jesus weeps.