Passion Sunday has a response to those who say we are in the midst of a “new normal.” NEWSWEEK of 1 April 2020 described this “new normal” in an article on the effects of COVID-19, fear and gun sales. It reported:
Bullet sales surged 276% on 3 March 2020. David Chipman of Giffords Law commented that “Fear has been the motivation for much of the increase in firearms purchases . . . the nation’s gun laws allow people to hoard weapons in the same way they are able to buy mass tiolet paper.” He further says, “My fear is that in a race to protect themselves from the pandemic, some people might be bringing a different danger right through their front door.”
Kris Brown, President of the Brady gun control group, said she is “very fearful” of the threat to children home from school. According to Brady, eight children are unintentionally injured or killed every day in the USA as the result of an unlocked or unsupervised gun in the home.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, expressed similar concern, saying guns in the home increase risk of homicide and suicide. “We have a gun homicide rate that’s 25 times greater than the average of other western developed nations.” Her advice in this COVID time, “Wash their hands and lock their guns.”
NICS said the rate of background checks processed on 16 March 2020 soared by 300% compared to the same date in 2019. The FBI reports a 41% increase in background checks over the same period last year. Mark Healy, gun shop owner, says, “I’ve been in this business for 10 years and I’ve never seen it like this.” Mike Weeks, another gun store owner, says “It’s like Black Friday everyday!” Brandon Burns, owner of Spartan Arms and Range Supplies in Las Vegas, showed pictures of his store: “No handguns, no rifles, no ammunition, no 9mm, no 40mm, no .45, no 5.56, no .22, no twelve gauge, no twenty gauge, we don’t have it . . . . Things are not normal right now.”
It is Passion Week. It begins with Jesus sending two of his disciples to fetch a colt and bring it to him. As Jesus rode on the path down from the Mount of Olives, some in the crowd shouted “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven! . . . . As he came near [Jerusalem] and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace.’ “Then he entered the Temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written, my house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.'” (Luke 19:29ff)
In this time, we search for peace. Luke proclaims peace from Jesus. Peace, not from a weapon, but from a person, the Liberator, the Christ, who casts out fear. Jesus, the Christ-Peace, who demonstrates faith-filled courage and fearless objection, drives out that which tarnishes God’s world, enlightening and empowering us to transform the world and make real God’s Kin-dom, in part, by making God’s world gun safe. Jesus, through the Church and through us, has been and is and will be the “New Normal.”
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes