Along with many, I wore an orange t-shirt (over my clergy shirt) to a public hearing at the Minnesota State Capitol as a colorful sign of opposition to two gun bills that were being introduced. The first was a Permitless Carry Bill (HF-0188) which would “…make it possible for anyone to carry any type of gun…into schools, places of worship, hospitals, government buildings and the state fair.” The other bill was a Stand Your Ground Bill (HF-0238) (remember Trayvon Martin) which “…would allow people to ‘shoot first, ask questions later’… A person could shoot somebody simply because they felt afraid, even if the person constituted no actual threat.”

I prepared an opposition speech as did many. This is what I would have said.

I urge the committee to oppose these bills. Why? Because they make it easier to buy a gun, easier to carry a gun in public and easier to kill another person. Furthermore, these bills nurture a culture of fear, defensiveness and anger which only spark the passion for gun violence.

We may talk of RIGHTS. Good enough. That’s America. The Declaration of Independence speaks of ALL people having the right of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These bills give preferred right to only the person carrying the gun.

The Second Amendment speaks of the “right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” But it also speaks of a “well regulated militia.” Rights are balanced by regulation.

Our Constitution also charges the government to “ensure domestic tranquility.” These bills fail the charge. They give easy permission to kill. They also call upon you as elected officials to do your duty to “ensure domestic tranquility.”

We may debate statistics. I will stand firm in trusting statistics from Harvard University, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University. Let’s put them all on the table and have a go. More guns equal more deaths.

I assume many of you are members of faith communities. I am a Lutheran minister, and so I look to Holy Scripture for guidance. Isaiah writes “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and spears into prunning hooks.” Jesus says “Enough!”, “No more of this!” and “Those who live by the [gun] shall die by the [gun].”

Let hunters hunt. Let sports shooters shoot. Let protectors protect homes and property. But let not guns threaten the public common good. Let us not make killing too easy. I urge the committee to vote down these dangerous bills. Life is too precious to be too easy to silence.