A Coast Guard officer stockpiles a buffet of 17 weapons: semi-automatics, a sniper rifle, shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Why? He is a White Nationalist who wants to start a race war. He also wants to kill members of the Democratic leadership and prominent journalists who have been critical of President Trump.

The silence from President Trump is broken only after prompted by a journalist’s inquiry. Tweet silence. Silence from the Justice Department. Silence from Republican leadership. Silence! What would they have said if the shooter was a Muslim?

Considerations are numerous. First, it was easy for this officer to procure a buffet of weapons. Our national gun laws are few and loose, making weapons purchase seem like walking into a candy store and purchasing gun sweeteners. Purchase your weapon online with no questions. Attend a gun show and purchase from a private seller. No problem. Befriend a neighbor who has a weapon you want. Easy. Purchase from a licensed dealer, pass a background check, spot on. Guns everywhere!

Second, a mass shooting in America occurs nearly every day. Schools have active shooter drills. Workplaces become shooting galleries. The large Church Mutual Insurance Company sponsors risk management seminars, teaching the ALICE safety protocol. Churches and places of worship are open targets. And national political leadership cannot garner the votes to pass common sense gun violence prevention laws. Only the Democratic house has passed meaningful laws but they will be squelched by the Republican Senate and most assuredly President Trump if any law would pass both the House and Senate. Fealty to the base.

Third, gun enthusiasts with holstered weapons showed up at the Minnesota Capitol recently to protest the location of a hearing on school gun violence. The location was a local school. They felt the location was prejudicial to honest conversation. Their intimidation was successful. The Democratic leadership backed off the site.

Fourth, to quote the Southern Poverty Law Center’s HATE AND EXTREMISM IN 2018 issue, “… the racist ‘alt-right’ has been involved in murdering 43 people and injuring 67 over the past four years alone.” Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in an email, “… can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight!” His comment was made two days before five journalists were killed and multiple others wounded at the CAPITAL GAZETTE newspaper in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

America, we have a problem. It is past time to beat our swords into plowshares and spears into prunning hooks. It is time to pass gun safety laws such as criminal background checks which close the private seller loophole, and Red Flag Laws which will temporarily remove weapons from the possession of a person who is a danger to self and others.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

In Hope,

Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes