JESUS. The person, the Son of God, the reason for gun violence prevention. JESUS is where I begin when addressing GVP. Why? Because Jesus’ life, mission and ethics are to be replicated by Christ’s followers. Human rights, gun rights are interpreted through Jesus.

Hebrews 2:10-18 helps define Jesus’ mission and will for humanity, and provide a template for GVP. There are four sections to Jesus’ template for action:

1. JESUS IS THE PIONEER. The pioneer leads. The pioneer ventures where no one or few have trod. The pioneer has courage while surrounded by unknowns. The pioneer presses on in hope for new life. The pioneer is fueled by the promise of what is to come. Those committed to gun violence prevention (GVP) are pioneers. We are committed to leading. We choose courage in the face of known and unknown opposition. Buoyed by courage, we hope for new laws and we press on not always knowing what kind and temperment of opposition lies before us. Jesus as pioneer is our example and spiritual grace.

2. JESUS CALLS US BROTHERS AND SISTERS. We are in this effort together. As we are united so are we united with all who suffer gun violence and with our opposition. We have no enemies. Hate is not our motivator. As we are all wounded by GV, so are we all part of the solution. We are called to talk with each other, struggle for solutions together, discover common ground of safety for all.

3. JESUS AS LIBERATOR. Death and woundedness are not the price of freedom, but an evil power that we not hasten. Too often, the abuse of guns hastens the grief of death. Too often, the abuse of guns enslavens us to fear. Too often fear shackles our souls to more gun violence. Jesus frees us from these fearful shackles and deadly weapon abuse so we can trust love and right laws to lead us to a liberated life.

4. JESUS AS MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST. Gun abuse is not merciful. Gun abuse is not the equivalent of high priestly status. High Priests value the sanctity of all life. Mercy nurtures life as its nature is forgiveness and understanding. Gun abuse is not merciful and bullets silence understanding. Jesus as Merciful High Priest transforms our fear-filled defensiveness into embracing comity.

Gun violence tests our faith. Faith stirs response to suffering. The suffering Christ opens us to loving response. The carnage of gun violence screams for our Jesus’ reply. Jesus guides. Jesus provides.

Ron Letnes