Disappointment describes my feelings after the Minnesota Legislature failed to pass two gun bills focused on gun safety: Comprehensive Background Checks and Red Flag (Extreme Risk Protective Orders). Analytics of these bills prove they save lives. See: protectmn.org, thetrace.org, engageelca.org. But as the Jewish people say to each other: “Next year in Jerusalem!”, we can say “Next year in St. Paul!” How can we move forward? I suggest three areas of focus:
1) THEOLOGICAL. As Christians our greatest asset is the Word of God. It is the Will of God that everyone is created in the Image of God to live nonviolently in all facets of life. God did not create us for violence. The Creation Story posits harmony, balance and peace. The foundational ethics of Jesus is nonviolence. Regarding weapons, Jesus says “Enough!” and “No more of this!” Paul speaks of the Fruits of the Spirit which are nonviolent. The Armor of God is nonviolent. The only part where Paul allows violence is by the state for the sake of order, yet this permission is bracketed by the call to love. The final chapters of Revelation speak of a new heaven and a new earth of no more dying and no more crying.
2) CONSTITUTIONAL: The Preamble speaks of the purpose of our nation is to “ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, establish justice and provide for the common defense,” all balanced towards nonviolence with violence reserved for state protective actions. The Second Amendment was originally included to support states’ rights and the formation of militias. Individual rights were secondary and permitted for the sake of suppressing slave rebellions, control of the Native American population, hunting, and at the ready for national emergencies. Militias were the muscle behind a nearly nonexistant national army. Furthermore, states were to keep an inventory of personal arms so they could know the extent of their militias’ force. State and national protection as well as racial domination were the foundational purposes of the Second Amendment.
3) POLITICAL: Politics is about the “polis”, the people. Politics is how we can live together. What do we need to do to live together in peace? Politics is about the common good. It is about our individual, family and public interactions for common harmony. This includes maintaining safe gun practices in our homes, providing security measures in schools and work places, and passing common sense gun laws that provide safer gun guidelines for purchase and use. We need to study the analytics of what makes for safer gun usage. We need to study what other states and nations are doing which makes them more gun safe. In Minnesota, we can do better for the sake of the polis.
I believe these templates for the future can help create a safer human culture amidst a culture awash in guns.
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes