Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guns and God

Here I have been living my life assuming that most people who practice a religion believe in peace and justice. As it turns out, there are some who believe in the total opposite. Historically violence in the name of religion has been practiced for centuries. Take the Crusades as just one example. Or the Arab/Israili continued conflicts, or the massacres in Bosnia, or witch hunts, or burning people at the stake, etc. You get the picture. In fact, when one looks at the history of conflict in the world, religion figures pretty prominently. Intolerance of others' religious beliefs or conflict over land or leaders can lead to violence and then to decades long wars. What happened on 9/11 can be attributed in part to the extemist Muslims acting in fear of the Western way of life. These are not reasonable people. They are people who get whipped up by extremist leaders and who believe in their cause out of religious ferver. Anything in the name of their beliefs is justified.

One would think that most of this is happening in other parts of the world. But one would be wrong. Here, in this article from the on-line site, Alternet.org, is a scary story about folks who reside amongst us who want to harm us. If you don't believe me, just read these words from Herb Titus, lawyer for the extreme gun right group, Gun Owners of America ( GOA) who said this about the recent McDonald Supreme Court decision:" Titus cites the “totalitarian threat” posed by “Obamacare” and “what Sarah Palin said about death panels.” People need to be armed, he said, “because ultimately it may come to the point where it’s a life and death situation.”" Really?

But to go on with the theme of guns and religion, there is more in this article that demands examination by inquring minds. I won't get this right unless I cite it exactly from the "alternet.org" article. " The militia movement and Christian Reconstructionism both contend that our current civil government, most especially the federal government, is illegitimate: that it has overreached the limits of its divinely ordained authority, and that it continues to do so. At this intersection of the religious right and the militia movement, gun ownership is portrayed as a religious issue. “When we’re talking about firearms,” GOA executive director Larry Pratt told RD, “we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.”" ( bold type is mine) An obligation?

I actually had a recent "discussion" with a Libertarian gun rights guy at an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Million Mom March. He told me that he had an "obligation" to own a gun for self protection and to protect his family and his property. Somewhere in my upbringing in the Lutheran Church and now at my United Church of Christ church, I learned that one can turn the other cheek and that violence was not the answer but rather that peace and justice were the better course for human interaction and to counter human suffering. We should treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. So if the extremists want to be armed everywhere they go, what is that saying about how they wish to be treated by others? I guess we should all be armed just in case.....

This is serious and potentially dangerous talk and action. We are now seeing a group of people who have, through the media and internet, been given coverage for their views. They should be a fringe group who are not to be taken seriously except, of course, for their threats and their arming themselves against the government. But the "tea party" movement is not distancing themselves from these people. In fact, some of them appear to be part of the "tea party". In addition, some of these folks chose April 19th, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, to go public in Washington D.C. and at a Virginia park near Washington D.C. to spout their nonsense and scary rhetoric. So, here's more about what Larry Pratt ( Gun Owners of America) thinks, again, from the article: " ” Pratt believes the federal government is largely unconstitutional, and that all federal agencies save the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury (which should be “a lot smaller”), should be abolished. (The Internal Revenue Service is a part of Treasury that Pratt would like to see abolished.)"

Having a gun in the home for self defense is one thing. Taking it to a dangerous extreme is quite another. The article and words of Larry Pratt and the 300,000 others who belong to GOA, speak for themselves. What are we to do? I suggest, for starters, that you read information on the God Not Guns Coalition web site. Faith communities have been teaching peaceful solutions to conflict for centuries. Now is the time to be more purposeful about it. Uncertaintly about change, about the economy, about health care, about immigration and other current issues, make some people more fearful than others. But those who promote the ideas of the extremists by suggesting arming themselves against the government and the President in the name of God and religion should be called out. This rhetoric should not be given credence. Whether it is through a faith community or not, these words, from the God Not Guns Coalition are an invitation to non-violence in this current hyperbolic atmosphere: " We invite every faithful individual and faith-based group to join us as we work to prevent the tragic toll of gun violence."

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