DO VIOLENT IDEOLOGICAL VALUES LEAD TO GUN VIOLENCE? Here are four quotes that present violent values. Some are personal and some are political in nature. In both ways, I submit they light the matches for violence, and too often gun violence.

“You never blame yourself. You have to blame something else. If you do something bad, never, ever, blame yourself.”

“His primary rules were never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong. People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough, people will sooner or later believe it.”

“Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice.” “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back against these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. That was a big mistake you made. You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them. You showed weakness. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.”

“[The Republican Party] is a racist, lawless, blood and soil party.”

Quote one is attributed to President Trump, and quote three is from Bob Woodward’s book FEAR. The second quote is from a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler prepared by the United States Office of Strategic Services. The fourth quote is from Jennifer Rubin, a Republican, and a columnist for the WASHINGTON POST.

These expressions stirred a culture of fear and violence. Their expressed values are synonymous with gun violence. During the pandemic, gun sales have reached record levels. Domestic violence has increased. There is a strong relationship between domestic violence and gun violence. Gun violence correlates with authoritarianism. “Boogaloo Bois” and avowed White Supremists have appeared carrying AR-15s and other weapons. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security says “White supremist extremists will remain the most persistent and lethal threat” through 2021, and noted that 2019 was the deadliest year for domestic violent extremists since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Furthermore, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, which is known for violently attacking leftists, was shot and killed. A Black American is six times more likely to be shot by police than a White American. Racism often causes gun violence. These values are the matches for gun violence.

It is noteworthy that in all the quotes there is no hint of confession, forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. The core value is narcissism, from which power, fear and domination erupt. Respect for the dignity of the other is empty. Commitment to construct a diverse “beloved community” is tanked. The guiding light is “Invictus” on steroids, epitifying one who has an “unconquerable soul, is master of my fate and captain of my soul.” It is all about me! I am the ultimate value!

Biblically, the heart is the core of our values, of our being. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says “. . . the human heart is fully set to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 10:2 reads, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “. . . where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Guns used in violence are the instruments of the fool who trusts the values of power and fear over love. Those who perpetuate gun violence treasure the value of the gun to exert personal and political control. Inappropriate gun use unveils evil value. Evil is the ultimate value antithesis of Jesus. Psalm 51:10 reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”


Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)