The Apostle Paul, (or one of his disciples), writes in Ephesians 4:1-3: “I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.” This urging is a commitment to nonviolence as the Christian Way. It is also in contrast to BAD APPLE GUN DEALERS (BAGD).

A BAGD is profiteering without conscience, selling without compassion with no regard for humility, gentleness and bearing one another in love, nor striving for unity in the bonds of peace. Greed and business are unified for death.

The Brady Campaign documents 5% of gun dealers supply 90% of crime guns. Brady says there are approximately 3,000 BAGD in the USA. USA TODAY reports that the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), is the federal agency responsible for enforcement of gun regulatory safety. However, “. . . the Trace and USA TODAY found that the federal agency has been largely toothless and conciliatory, bending over backward to go easy on wayward dealers and allowing guns to flow into hands of criminals.” “In the vast majority of cases analyzed by reporters, the ATF gave violators the slightest penalty available: a boilerplate warning letter reminding them that their compliance is crucial to ‘reduce violent crime and protect the public.’ The agency revoked a gun dealer’s license less than 3% of the time.”

A major source of the problem is that there are 78,000 gun dealers, manufacturers and importers in the United States. The ATF employs 700 investigators who perform unannounced performance reviews. The goal is to inspect dealers once every three years. Yet, in 2020, the ATF inspected only 7.5% of all licensed dealers, and of those, 41% were found to have committed violations. A single violation is enough to shutter a gun shop if ATF can prove that the store willfully broke federal regulations according to The Trace and USA TODAY. LIke a broken record, the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation spend millions on lobbying to limit regulating the ATF. Richard Marianos, a former ATF assistant director, says “They are like the NRA. Never once have they said the ATF needs more money, help, support or resources.”

Solutions? Acknowledge that laws make a difference. And what are laws that can put down BAGD? 1. Enact the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, debated by Congress in 2013, to give law enforcement more effective tools to stop straw purchasing and trafficking; 2. Establish licensing of dealers and stronger requirements to better record keeping, securing practices and employee background checks; 3. Eliminate the Tiahrt Amendment which prevents the ATF from publicly releasing or sharing certain data on gun tracing; 4. Expose BAGD, publicly name and shame them; 5. Limit the number of guns a person can buy; 6. Eliminate restrictions on ATF so t hey can visit gun dealers more than one time a year; 7. Mandate liability for gun dealer negligence by repealing the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce and Arms Act which protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held responsible when crimes have been committed with their products; 8. Support increased ATF funding so they can hire more inspectors.

How can these actions be facilitated? Contacting our elected leaders and insisting on legislative action. Write letters, make phone calls, send emails, attend town halls. It is action of “We the people” that make the difference. This ought to be a natural action by we Christians. As followers of Jesus and readers of the Apostle Paul, we are graced and called to “lead lives worthy of the calling to which we have been called”, to insist that dealers and all people lead lives of humility, gentleness, bearing one another in love, and maintining a unity of peace. As followers of Jesus, we have the theological foundation to get the job done. Now, do we have the will and courage?

Blessings and Peace!

Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)