Action on gun violence prevention (GVP) has been slow. Senator Warren Limmer (Republican), is dim on any action this legislative session, or ever. His stonewalling is often effective. Yet, during our weekly Wednesday ENGAGE: Connecting the Dots salon, GUN ACTION FORWARD was discussed.
Joan Peterson, long-time leader in GVP, became active after her sister was murdered by her husband. She is a leader in the Brady Campaign and Protect Minnesota. Joan was lead presenter for our salon. She said the Concealed Carry Law was the worst law because it normalized carrying guns. Guns intimidate. Joan supports registration (a “nasty” word), licensing and mandatory training. She urges people to unload and lock-up in-home weapons. Joan supports Universal Background Checks and Red Flag Laws (Extreme Risk Protection Orders) to help prevent in-home violence. She proclaims “If we pass laws we change minds”. Joan supports the banning of assault-type weapons. She said it takes 13-14 years for new laws to take real effect.
The group talked of the corruption within the NRA. The waste of member funds by executive leadership and their financial support of Right-Wing politicians who stifle any and all GVP action, clouds their moral focus, even as 42,000 die of gun violence. The NRA is strong because of its insistence on individual rights and support of gun manufacturers. Guns are good for business and the NRA is its billboard. Blood money. Even though the NRA’s membership is only 4% pf the population, its power is substantial.
We talked of the importance of messaging. Statistics are important, but they are only part of the way forward. Counter statistics always surface. The scriptural call to nonviolence needs to be a major piece in GVP. The will of God is life for all. Jesus came that we may have life “abundantly”! Then there is the Preamble of the Constitution, which calls upon “We the people”, the government, to “Insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . . ” The Amendments are a call for the common good and NOT an unbridled open door to unabashed individual rights! Our Wednesday salon will soon have a session on messaging and how we can more effectively move GVP forward.
A hopeful sign is that in one study of Minnesota concerns, gun violence prevention was #1 and #2 out of 105 desired resolutions. This is consistent with surveys indicating around 80% statewide support, and a strong majority number even by NRA membership. Last year, 467 Minnesotans died of gun violence, of which 82% were suicides. GV in St. Paul and Minneapolis reached record or near record levels. Rural suicides increased. It is clear the people are demanding action. There is opening for change. The Mission of ENGAGE: Lutherans for Gun Violence Prevention is: MEDITATE on, EDUCATE about, and ADVOCATE for change in the nonviolent Spirit of Jesus Christ. We are graced! We are called! Thanks for your partnership.
Blessings and Peace!
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)