CHRISTIANITY MEANS POLITICS MATTERS. God does not will people to kill people. As people of faith, we are called to give witness to God’s will for life. God wills that all of us have life “abundantly”. Deuteronomy 30:19 reads “Choose life so that you and your descendents may live.” There are at least 700 abundant references to “life” in scripture as a central Judeo-Christian value. Abundant life and choosing life means politics matters.
POLITICS rightly performed chooses abundant life. Why? Because politics is about ordering life for the common good. Honestly, there have been “hits and misses” while addressing gun rights, with some opening the gates to guns for all and others with a GVP center. On the federal level, in 1791, the Second Amendment enshrined gun rights and militia responsibility into our Constitution. In 1934, in response to gangland massacres, the National Firearms Act was passed, banning machine guns, taxing and registering certain arms. In 1938, the Federal Firearms Act regulated dealers and prevented felons from purchasing arms. In 1968, the Gun Control Act banned imported guns, mandated and imposed stricter licensing requirements and prevented mentally ill persons from purchasing weapons. In 1986, the Firearms Owners Protection Act again banned machine guns, prohibited a national registry, limited ATF inspections to once a year, allowed licensed dealers to sell guns at gun shows, and loosened regulations on the sale and transfer of ammunition. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required background checks and established the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). In 1994, an Assault Weapons Ban imposed a 10 year limit which expired and was not renewed in 2004. In 2003, the Tiahrt Amendment prohibited the ATF from publicly releasing gun violence data. It also shielded retailers from lawsuits, academic study and public scrutiny. In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce and Arms Act prevented gun manufacturers from being named in federal and state lawsuits by victims.
States GVP laws have had a mixed record. Those states with tighter laws have a lower rate of gun deaths. Check-out Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey. Minnesota has done a good job, but needs to tighten its background check system and pass a Red Flag Law. Generally, these states have expanded background checks to include private sales, mandated gun safety training, required permitting to pass through consultation with local police or similar enforcement personnel, and in some cases licensing requirements have been solidified. States that have Red Flag Laws (Extreme Rick Protection Orders) have a lower rate of gun related domestic violence and suicide. The common thread was state politicians passing GVP laws.
Internationally, countries with tighter GVP laws have a lower rate of gun violence. Consider Canada, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Compared with these countries, the USA ranks quite low on the rate of gun violence. The common thread was national politicians passing GVP laws.
CHRISTIANITY MEANS POLITICS MATTERS. Historically, political action regulated and defined the terms for gun use, causing BOTH increased death and preventing further gun carnage. The common thread in lowering gun deaths is the the passage of stringent and fair gun laws. Fair laws give responsible persons the right to hunt, shoot recreationally, and protect their home and person. ALL of the above mentioned countries and states allow these privileges. The United States, however, needs to do better. Nearly 40,000 gun deaths a year is not acceptable.
Politicians make laws. Rightly ordered laws focus fair gun laws for GVP. We the people elect politicians to enact laws to protect people and provide justice. In this election cycle, IF WE DESIRE A SAFER GUN ENVIRONMENT, we need to inquire of those seeking office where they stand on GVP laws. We need to attend candidate debates and forums. We need to read their campaign material and see if they have GVP positions consistent with abundant life. We need to demand that they adhere to the U.S. Constitution Preamble pledge to “ensure domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare”. Laws matter. Politics matters. Politicians make laws. Besides, if the Ten Commandments promote abundant life, ought not laws written today provide abundant life for all? Ought not our laws mirror the spirit and intent of the Ten Commandments? None of the Ten Commandments advocated violence. And yes, those Wandering Jews had a political bent, creating a system of laws to order the People of God. Christianity means politics matters. Abundant life awaits.
Blessings and Peace!
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)